If KaiserWerft, the German builder of the Baron line of custom motoryachts, set out to explore the two extremes of yacht design, Ocean of Love and Catwalk would appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. But looks can be deceiving. Two years ago, when the firm debuted its second large yacht, the 102-foot Ocean of Love displayed some of the most curvaceous lines ever to grace a motoryacht superstructure. This year's delivery, the 133-foot Catwalk, has deck lines that are starkly straight in profile. Beyond this obvious, but largely superficial difference, however, the two yachts share a great deal.
When I visited Ocean of Love in Monte Carlo, I was immediately taken with her innovative split-level floor plan, which included a raised dining room, lying just forward of her pilothouse. As I sat at the spacious table and shared refreshments with the Baron folks, I couldn't help but marvel at what a wonderful difference a little extra height and a broad span of panoramic windows made. The view of Monaco's harbor and hills was magnificent, and my mind soon wandered to images of other venues that the yacht would likely visit. This room was sure to become a favorite of every guest.
The newest Baron, Catwalk, not only shares that great design feature; it also takes it a step further. The raised room is still fitted for dining, with a large split-circle table and a matching banquette all around, but this time it serves double duty as an observation lounge as well. The forward windows, raked well aft on Ocean of Love, are vertical on Catwalk, in keeping with her modernist profile, and enable a clearer view of the world ahead.
Catwalk also shares Ocean of Love's full-beam deckhouse, with no side decks at the main deck level. Instead, the full-length side decks are on the upper deck level. These "catwalks that give the yacht her name also give the captain a great view over the side while docking and provide easy access to the foredeck for the crew as well.
The catwalks also enable the guests to move easily from the sunbathing areas forward to the whirlpool spa that anchors the upper aft deck. Built into the aft-deck bulwark at centerline, the spa is flanked by a large sunpad to port, with open deck space for lounge chairs. There are two sunbathing areas forward: One is built into the cabin top just forward of the dining/observation lounge and is the larger of the two, and includes a folding cabana to protect guests from breezes and sun when desired; the second sunbathing area is a few steps down on the foredeck and consists of two U-shaped settees, facing each other so a table can be put into place for alfresco dining.
Just abaft the pilothouse is a space that normally would be used as a skylounge. However, since the observation lounge forward already serves this purpose, this cabin has been outfitted as what KaiserWerft terms an "owner's penthouse. Master staterooms on yachts of this size are normally situated forward on the main deck, and Catwalk is no exception. When the weather gets rough, however, this is not the most comfortable spot for sleeping because of the exaggerated rolling and pitching motions.
Theoretically, most owners aren't aboard for rough passages. This doesn't always hold true, however, and the penthouse, with a convertible single/double berth, will be a welcome refuge for sleeping when Mother Nature kicks it up a notch. It can also be used as a small spare bedroom, secondary lounge or an owner's private study.
In good weather, or when anchored or moored, the master stateroom forward on the main deck will serve the owners quite nicely. It has a king berth, and dressers line the port and starboard hullsides. The bath has twin lavatories and a spacious shower, and the head and bidet are located in a private compartment off the adjacent dressing area. Three hanging lockers and another dresser sit behind the berth's headboard, providing ample clothing stowage for extended cruises.
The view from the master stateroom rivals that of the upper observation lounge, with a three-panel skylight, spacious side windows and a semicircular array of vertical forward windows. In fact, another observation area, a small private one for the owners, lies at the top of a short spiral stair, reminiscent of a nautilus, built into the forward end of the stateroom.
Catwalk will primarily be boarded from the stern, but there's a spacious entrance lobby to starboard, just abaft the master stateroom. Nothing unusual there, except it's located directly under the observation lounge, recessed a few steps down to assure ample headroom. This places the side gangway at a more convenient height for boarding when moored alongside.
The offset in the main deck height also makes a nice physical differentiation from both the master stateroom and the saloon, rendering this lobby a private little world of its own. That's important, because it is another part of the yacht that does double duty. There's an L-shaped dinette here, similar to ones found on many smaller family yachts, that can be used for informal dining when the guest list is short.
Abaft the lobby is a day head, and to port is the galley that includes a bar for the crew to grab a quick snack (the main crew mess is below, aft of the engineroom). There's also a stairway adjacent to the galley that leads directly up to the dining/observation lounge. The galley is outfitted with a full set of Miele appliances, from the range and oven to the steamer and coffeemaker.
The saloon, up a few steps from the entrance lobby, spans Catwalk's full beam and thus has room for several separate areas. To starboard is a large conversation area, with a spacious L-settee and several loose chairs. Two swivel lounge chairs are situated to port for TV viewing, and a wet bar is located in the aft corner of the saloon, matched and in line with another on the open aft deck, just through the curved glass doors that form the saloon's aft bulkhead.
The guest accommodations, belowdecks and forward of the engineroom, are reached via two stairways down from the entrance lobby. The forward stair leads to a pair of guest staterooms that are fitted with convertible berths, changeable from twins to queens as sleeping requirements demand. The aft stair serves the two VIP staterooms, each fitted with queen berths as well as sofas, hullside vanities and more spacious baths than the forward staterooms have.
The crew accommodations are split fore and aft. Forward are the captain's and a steward's cabin, each with head and shower. Aft are two engineer/mate cabins, each with upper and lower twin berths, which share two heads and showers. There's also a crew mess, with seating for four, in the aft crew area. A RIB garage is also built into this area, with the boat launching across a swim platform that folds out of the transom.
There is no question Catwalk is an unusual yacht. Her modernist profile will appeal to some, not to others, but the flexibility of her guest-friendly arrangement will find many fans-and probably a few imitators as well. Baron has two more yachts under construction, both slightly longer at 138 feet. The next, Great White, is scheduled for delivery in August. She has an arrangement similar to Catwalk's, but the curves of her profile are more reminiscent of Ocean of Love. The following yacht, The Kaiser, is of a different design, still modernist but with a lower profile and revised arrangement plan.