Benetti 184

The force is with Benetti's new Galaxy.

Benetti 184

In Star Wars, the wise and aged Yoda advises, "Do or do not. There is no try." It is an admonishment to be fully committed to whatever you undertake, that an unfulfilled attempt is unacceptable. Clearly, Benetti chose "do" when it built the 184-foot motoryacht Galaxy.

Though she was built not so long ago and not so far away, Galaxy is still out of this world. Her striking exterior bears the unmistakable imprint of Benetti's longtime stylist Stefano Natucci. He also worked with the Australian owner's personal designer on Galaxy's interior, which exudes a warm coziness that belies the yacht's size. Featuring a host of exotic woods, including eucalyptus, European plane tree, maple burl and sycamore, the accommodations were laid out for selective charter as well as extensive use by the owner's family.

Galaxy is the first yacht delivered from Benetti's new shipyard in Lavorno, Italy. Previously, all Benetti yachts were built at the company's main yard in Viareggio, but with the success of the builder's semi-custom yacht program, which includes five models ranging from 80 to 145 feet, that yard is now fully dedicated to fiberglass construction. Benetti's sister company, production yachtbuilder Azimut, has a new facility a short walk down the street in Viareggio. The logistical and technological synergy of grouping the composite construction make sense, but that left Benetti's custom steel and aluminum yachtbuilding without a home, thus the expansion into Lavorno.

Many larger yachts intended for use in the Mediterranean give priority to stern boarding, given the area's crowded quays and the resultant predominance of docking stern-to. Galaxy includes a passerelle and a lovely entry to the saloon from astern, but also incorporates a sophisticated system for starboard side boarding in other areas of the world. A boarding ladder with self-leveling teak steps is built into the sidedeck's bulwark and deploys hydraulically to allow guests to embark and disembark comfortably when Galaxy is moored side-to. The ladder leads to the main deck lobby, where double doors open to both a spacious winding staircase and a circular glass-walled elevator serving all four decks, from the lower deck's four guest staterooms to the sun deck's stunning solarium.

Belowdecks, Galaxy features two queen-berth staterooms abaft the central elevator, one finished in bird's-eye maple and stallatite marble and the other in harewood and Egyptian yellow marble. The two twin-berth staterooms forward include Pullman berths, and are decorated in shades of green, with European plane tree and Laguna green marble to port, and eucalyptus wood and Guatemala green marble to starboard. All four include en suite heads, the after two with tubs and the forward with showers, as well as 26-inch plasma video screens. The entertainment system provides access to the multizone DVD and music center from each cabin. A central passageway leads through a series of two doors to the crew area, allowing both ease of service for the crew and a secondary means of emergency escape for both guests and crew.

Abaft the guest quarters is the engineroom, which includes an enclosed engineer's control room. The stern garage provides storage for two Yamaha personal watercraft, a small sailboat and a Novurania 660 RIB, powered by two 90 hp Yamaha outboards. There's also room for another RIB and two additional watercraft on the foredeck. A large swim platform folds out from the stern garage to provide direct access to the water, and a centerline crane serves the boats forward.

The owner's suite, finished in shades of beige and brown with clear maple burl, is situated forward on the main deck, entered through "his" office/study off the main guest lobby. A maple burl day head lies just outside the door. The owner's suite spans Galaxy's full beam, which allows for sitting areas and vanities both port and starboard of the king berth. A 42-inch plasma video screen slides out of a panel to starboard for viewing from the bed.

Forward, his and hers baths flank a central stairway and landing that lead to the owner's private observation lounge. The semicircular lounge, elevated for fantastic panoramic views forward and to either side through the room's nine vertical windows, has a "hers" desk to starboard and another plasma screen to port.

Abaft the owner's suite is a large galley, outfitted with an extensive list of stainless steel commercial-grade equipment, including standard, induction and steam ovens, heat lamps, deep fryer and three-door refrigerator. A dumbwaiter serves the two decks above, and a separate foodlift goes down to a large cold room and dry storage area located below the lower deck.

Served from the galley via a butler's pantry to port is a semi-enclosed dining room that seats up to 14 guests. The adjacent saloon boasts two pop-up 50-inch plasma screens connected to DVD and satellite systems. The saloon and dining areas are vertically paneled in timber and leather, and decks are Burma teak parquet. The saloon is outfitted with sofas and loose chairs both port and starboard, and includes a baby grand piano aft. The saloon's twin electric doors slide open to a spacious covered aft deck with additional seating and table space.

The upper two decks will be guest favorites. In addition to the wheelhouse and captain's cabin, the bridge deck includes a VIP guest stateroom that is quite special. The stateroom has a large window that extends the length of the room, affording unmatched views of the passing world. The cabin is finished in maple burl, with orange onyx in the Jacuzzi-equipped head.

Also on this deck is an unusually large sky lounge, with two seating areas and a bar as well as a game table. A panoramic dining area adjoins the lounge and can seat from eight to 14 guests at the adjustable-sized circular table. Two of the four curved glass panels that form the aft bulkhead can be opened electrically for alfresco dining. Just outside the dining area are two additional seating areas, divided by a centerline rear-observation "cockpit," an area that I've found remarkably popular on other similar installations.

The top deck is a sun worshipper's delight, designed with considerable input from the owner. The central feature of the deck is the fully enclosed solarium. In addition to serving as the uppermost terminus of the elevator, the white lacquered-wood area houses exercise equipment including a treadmill, a cross-trainer cycle and a weight machine; each is equipped with its own television. Sliding doors to either side provide access to the outside spaces. A large whirlpool spa occupies most of the forward end of the deck, protected from the wind by Plexiglas screens and flanked by two large L-settees with tables. Aft of the solarium, the portside bar is outfitted with a sink, refrigerator and icemaker, and for more substantial fare, is served by the dumbwaiter from the galley. The bar and the adjoining dining table are shaded by a retractable awning that extends from the back of the solarium. At the after end of the deck, extensive open area is available for sunbathing or for hosting larger parties, maybe even a Star Wars convention.

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