Marlin and sailfish. Yellowtail, bass, barracuda, bonito. What sounds like a platter of sushi in one context becomes altogether more exciting when you propose to catch these fish yourself. That's why the perfect blend of yachting and something to do has to be sportfishing. There's just something stirring about man's most cunning and beautiful designs chasing nature's own best of class-the superb gamefish that prowl the depths.
At 105 feet, Karyatis, the Dutch-built Heesen, sits at the pinnacle of this food chain, purpose-built for quarry and for comfort. Sportfishing, as practiced around the world and perfected in the waters that surround the U.S., demands a very different and specific style of yacht, one that's designed to linger in conditions and attitudes that a cruiser would sooner pass by.
But a sportfishing boat the size of Karyatis almost redefines the genre, because she is also a cruising yacht. For instance, where a vessel this size would generally have a wheelhouse and a flybridge, aboard Karyatis there are six steering stations. Two of them face astern and overlook the cockpit, offering skybox views of the fishing arena, for it is here that a skillful captain demonstrates the leadership and yacht-handling skills that make all the difference. His reputation rests on what his party brings back at the end of the trip.
Heesen is well acquainted with world-class sportfishing boats, having built Obsession in 1996, at 125 feet then the largest in the world. She had a top speed of 33 knots and dominated the scene in both speed and size. She was the first private yacht fitted with interceptors, a Russian invention used to stabilize high-speed craft that is now common aboard European yachts. Interceptors are essentially vertical sliding plates in the transom; when lowered at high boat speed, they create a wedge of water that acts like a trim tab. In 1999 Obsession was superceded by Red Sapphire, which, at 128 feet and capable of 34 knots, is one of the world's largest sportfishermen.
Now comes Karyatis, named for the Caryatids-the legendary young women of Sparta who danced every year in honor of Artemis Karyatis, the daughter of Zeus and goddess of the hunt and wild animals. They are immortalized on magnificent buildings all over Greece and are those stately young women who hold up one wing of the Erechtheion, on Athens' Acropolis, with their heads.
Pieter Beeldsnijders and Heesen's in-house naval architects designed Karyatis as a semi-displacement, hard-chined yacht capable of 30 knots. The architects opted for propeller pockets to accommodate the massive props necessary to push the yacht to her design speed without creating excessive draft. Propeller pockets also allow the propellers to run very efficiently, and very slowly, to reduce both cavitation and turbulence that could hamper fishing. Conventional trim tabs help smooth out the ride at the high speeds needed to reach the fishing grounds. Changing their angle maintains slow-speed stabilization while trolling. There's a bowthruster in a tunnel, and a drop-down sternthruster, which helps when landing large gamefish through the transom door.