Everybody is leery of the first day of April, but don't let caution keep you from admiring this 200-foot Feadship. Her owner not only used the date to launch his new yacht but firmly affixed same to her nameplate: April Fool. Charter service not being in her immediate future, her arrangement and outfitting reflect a strong design sensibility that gave me a sense of déjà vu. Once I found that her design was based on a concept by the French firm Larvor, with details by Janet Leroy, the reason was clear. Some 20 years ago, while working in Jack Hargrave's office, I was lead designer for the 144-foot motoryacht Calliope. We worked closely with Pierre Tanter and the Larvor organization on her interior, which was described in The World's Most Extraordinary Yachts as "modern, clean and efficient."
The same phrase is perfect to describe April Fool. Subdued yet exquisitely tasteful, she is remarkably free of the purposeless glitz that afflicts too many yachts today. The same can be said of her exterior styling, completed by De Voogt Naval Architects, the in-house design arm of Feadship. It is a traditional Feadship, a classic raised-bow profile that will look as good in 20 years as it does today.
Achieving that classic appearance aboard April Fool, though, was not as easy for De Voogt as it has been on other recent yachts in this size range. Compared with other Feadships, such as Cakewalk, High Chaparral and Rasselas (all have been featured in YACHTING), the elevator and associated staircases aboard April Fool are relatively farther aft, not in line with the traditional starboard side entry but rather between the dining room and the main saloon. With the entire belowdecks suite of guest accommodations located abaft the engineroom, putting the elevator aft allows it to be central to the guest areas on all four of April Fool's decks. It even goes to the sundeck, where the elevator lobby under the expanded radar arch has been enclosed to create a compact gymnasium with the world's best view.
April Fool's bridge deck, where other larger Feadships carry their tenders port and starboard, posed special challenges. The port side boat is a 30-foot San Juan SJ70 called Fooled Again, which means an asymmetrical arrangement that actually noses into the wheelhouse and cuts into the central area of the yacht. The captain's cabin has been moved aft, along with a ship's office. The wheelhouse itself has five screens in the main console, for enhanced functionality with an exceptionally clean look and, abaft the helm, a raised leather couch for six keeps onlookers out of the captain's line of sight while allowing them a view.
The skylounge is located farther aft on a bridge deck that is longer than usual. This in turn means the sundeck is longer, with more space for outdoor recreation. In addition to the central enclosed gymnasium, the top deck has huge open outdoor areas forward and aft.
The entire yachting world is now more concerned with too much sun exposure, and April Fool's owner is no exception. Because of that, Feadship developed a new awning system that has made its first appearance on April Fool. From the radar arch, curved tracks on each side (prominent features in the profile) extend forward to support a retractable awning that can be deployed to shade the four-stool bar and pop-up television, dining and seating areas. Forward, clear of the awning and elevated for a fabulous view of the sea, is a circular whirlpool spa with sunpads on either side.
The other end of the sundeck is fitted with an extendable dining table for up to 12 guests, served by a barbeque grill that slides away when not in use; carbon-fiber posts and tracks can be erected by the crew to support a full-beam canopy. Under way at sea, this area can be used to transport a man-overboard boat that is launched by a crane built into the bulwark at the port side.
Because April Fool is not in charter, and because the owner prefers to cruise with a limited number of guests, the yacht has only four guest staterooms in addition to the master suite. The result, on a yacht of this length, is that each guest enjoys VIP status with space and amenities not often found in guest cabins. Situated between the engineroom and the stern garage, there are two staterooms with king berths forward. These two staterooms are slightly larger than the aft stateroom, with an extra closet and desk. The two aft staterooms are fitted with twin berths, convertible to kings by sliding the twins together. All have en suite baths with showers and private toilet compartments, and the forward baths have Hollywood-style mirrors framed with rows of lights. At the touch of a button, the mirrors drop into pockets below sink level, exposing the portlight behind.
There is also a guest day room, finished like the rest of the guest area in whitewashed oak. This room is fitted with a television, computer and entertainment center for the owner's grandchildren. A settee in this room converts to a berth for an additional guest or two.
Because all of the guest accommodations are aft of the engineroom, reduction of shaft and propeller noise was of particular concern. Engine speed is limited to 1600 rpm, which not only reduces the potential for noise and vibration, but also allows April Fool to cruise at her top speed of 16 knots. For additional sound reduction, special rubber mountings for the shafting system were incorporated, and custom propellers were supplied by LIPS/Wartsila.
The master stateroom enjoys a level of grandeur and distinction all its own. Unlike the rest of April Fool, which is finished in oak, the master suite is cherry, accented with blue and white fabrics. The full-beam bath is shared, but the large dressing rooms are his-and-hers. His has leather flooring for a masculine feel, and hers is finished in white with pastel carpeting. The bath includes a shower, sauna and oval tub, all with gold fixtures.
The master suite enjoys an abundance of light-in the bathroom, the sleeping room, the dressing rooms and the adjoining library-and a wide view through oversized hullside windows. The glass is reinforced, laminated and chemically treated to achieve a level of toughness that renders the installation of storm shutters unnecessary at sea. Not only is this better for aesthetics, but it eliminates a lot of difficult work for the crew.
In conjunction with cut-down sections of bulwark outboard of the sidedecks, the same large expanses of glass make the views from the main-deck saloon and bridge-deck skylounge much more enjoyable. The saloon is a lovely room, with shades of white, beige and blue nicely framed by oak joinerwork. It features a game table for four in one corner, a reading nook for two in another, and a large sofa and four chairs surrounding a circular glass cocktail table facing the retractable video screen. Large bookcases form the forward bulkhead, nicely framing the entrance to the elevator lobby and the dining room beyond.
The dining room's circular ash table expands, with four removable leaves, to seat up to 14 guests. Chairs in hues of red, white and blue bring a splash of color, and sit atop a carpet with concentric shades of blue that are reminiscent of the sea just outside the six large windows.
"Modern, clean and efficient," with good looks and easy functionality, this superb yacht is the quintessential Feadship. We should all be so lucky as to experience an April Fool such as this.
Contact: Feadship; www.feadship.nl