Feadship 205: Cakewalk

The 205-foot Cakewalk is arguably Feadship's finest yacht ever

Every owner who undertakes the building of a custom yacht begins with an extensive wish list. For most, it is not long before reality sets in. Two questions inevitably arise in response to each of the dozens of desired features: "How much is it?" and "Do I really want it that much?"

For those fortunate enough to honestly answer, "It doesn't matter" and "Yes, just do it," there is Feadship.

The term "luxury yacht" seems redundant until you board Cakewalk. At 205 feet overall, she is the second largest Feadship to date. She is also arguably the most intricately designed and finely finished yacht ever to emerge from the Van Lent yard on Kaag Island, Holland. Taking craftsmanship to a new level, Cakewalk is the epitome of all that is yachting.

This is the owner's second Feadship. He previously purchased and refit the 142-foot Fiffanella. Enjoying that yacht but aware of her limitations for his large family, he thought about what the next iteration would be. His instructions for Cakewalk were direct. She was to be built without compromise and in keeping with his three Ts: timelessness, tradition and technology.

A first look at Cakewalk's profile reveals obedience to the first two Ts. Her proportions, enhanced by her raised bow, are classic and will be as attractive in 20 years as they are today. As you get closer, the third T, technology, becomes apparent in one of the most subtle, yet most complicated features on any yacht.

In either side of the bow, encompassing three large windows and cut through the topsides, sheer rail and trunk cabin side, are massive doors that open gull's wing-style to reveal 27- and 28-foot custom tenders. Watertight with hydraulically actuated dogs, the doors match the shape of the hull perfectly. The only clue to their existence is a mere quarter-inch gap around the periphery. Such construction, by any measure, is a metalworking miracle.

Another bit of tradition was the owner's insistence that Fritz de Voogt, long the chief designer for Feadship, be coaxed out of retirement to pass judgment on the profile and arrangement developed by the team he mentored for so many years. With minor tweaking, the overall design received a "well done" from the master, and detailed engineering proceeded.

One of the most prominent features of the yacht, and one that is immediately apparent upon entering the lush, spacious entry foyer, is a grand staircase reminiscent of the finest old Continental hotels. Spanning Cakewalk's four decks, the stair and its railings are so critical to the concept of the yacht that they were the first things to be detailed and the last to be built.

A full two and a half years from design to execution, this masterpiece winds from the lower deck guest area to the open sundeck as an unbroken sculpture of iron, cherry wood and marble. Integrated into this central tower is an elevator for the owner and guests. Lined with raised cherry panels and floored with an Oriental rug over carpeting, the lift parallels the stair from top to bottom. A separate hidden stairway for the crew allows them access to any space on the yacht without intruding on owner or guest areas.

Visually impressive, yet practical, such stair towers can have a downside in the event of fire. The unobstructed vertical space can become a chimney, quickly spreading fire to all decks. Safety, including fire prevention and control, was given considerable attention on Cakewalk. To minimize the danger of a fire spreading through the stairwells or elevator shaft, and to meet the stringent requirements of the MCA Code, Feadship incorporated steel bulkheads and automatic self-closing fire doors that completely encase the central area of the yacht.

Down one level from the foyer are six guest staterooms spacious enough to be master staterooms on any ordinary yacht. Each is outfitted with a queen berth, a sofa that converts to a single, and a Pullman berth above the sofa. Doing the math shows a total possible guest count of 24, plus the owners. All guest staterooms have en suite heads with tubs, as well as separate desk/vanities. Though similar in arrangement, each stateroom is decorated in a distinctive motif based on the seas around the world.

To avoid the hotel hallway look, the doors to the guest staterooms are recessed a few inches outboard. An oval foyer, with Italianate cabinets that hide a refrigerator and pantry, is centered amid the after four staterooms. It is one of the few self-serve areas on the yacht. Cakewalk's owners feel personal service is as important to their guests' yachting experience as the sumptuous surroundings of the yacht itself. As an example, other than the bar forward on the sundeck, there are no bars in the public areas. The 16-person crew includes four stewardesses to bring refreshments upon request from the several galleys and pantries.

Crew's quarters are forward on the lower deck, separated from the guest staterooms by the engineroom. There are seven en suite cabins and a large crew mess, as well as large stowage areas for frozen, refrigerated and dry stores.

The owner's stateroom is forward of the foyer on the main deck. A spacious anteroom can be opened to the foyer to make arriving guests more comfortable, or can be closed off to serve as an extension of the stateroom. A Greek neo-classical painting graces the overhead. There is an owner's office inboard of the stateroom's double entry doors. Building on the owner's three Ts, the office looks quite traditional but is equipped with the latest in computers and other electronic equipment.

The master berth is nearly lost in the vastness of the full-beam stateroom. A chaise lounge is to starboard, and two reading chairs with ottomans occupy an alcove to port. Two full-height, glass-front gentlemen's lockers grace the area, lending it an air of old Bond Street. A cabinet at the foot of the berth houses a pop-up TV that can rotate to be seen from the berth, the baths or the seating areas. For emergency egress, there is a door from the back of the dressing area into the tender stowage area.

Just abaft the entry foyer is the dining room. China and crystal display cabinets in the corners of the room have rounded fronts to match the curve of the table. In details that are quintessential Feadship, the individual panes of heavy leaded glass in the cabinet doors are both curved and beveled. The doors are trimmed with curved moldings inside and out to preserve ambience open or closed.

There is a larger lounge area one deck up, but the main saloon is abaft the dining room. Only a low cabinet divides the two spaces, so guests may linger and visit with one another over coffee and dessert. There is a game table in the after corner of the saloon, and its chairs can be brought around the extendable dining table when there are extra guests.

Another dining area, on the open afterdeck, is even larger than the interior dining room. Fully covered by the bridge deck, this area will enjoy considerable use when at anchor in warm climes. Winding stairs lead from here to a large swim platform, the hub of water sports activity aboard Cakewalk. Four PWCs, diving gear and a number of other water toys are ready for use, as are a changing room with shower and a separate laundry space for washing swimwear.

The lounge, aft on the bridge deck, is an informal area for relaxation. A Yamaha Disklavier grand piano is in the after port corner. Two game tables occupy adjoining corners. A large, L-shape settee that seats six is centrally located, facing the entertainment center on the forward bulkhead.

The entertainment system is one of the most sophisticated ever fitted to a yacht. There are the now-common wide-dimension flat video screens for TV and movies in several areas, including the bridge deck lounge, as well as surround sound to enhance the big-screen effect. There is a central electronic library of 75 films and 500 CDs on call at any time, accessible by pressing the remote control for a particular area.

More impressive is that three guests in three different locations can listen to the same CD or watch the same movie simultaneously, but starting at different times. If that is not enough flexibility, each space also has a private system so guests can watch their own videos or listen to their own CDs, apart from those in the central library.

The sundeck is divided by an enclosure in the base of the traditional mast. It houses the guest and crew stairs and the elevator, as well as a day head. Curved glass panels and doors help connect the two areas visually, as does the teak decking, which continues through the enclosure from both open decks.

Forward are four observation seats and a bar. The two tables in this area have adjustable legs so they can be moved and still fit the cambered deck. Aft, a large whirlpool is raised so bathers will be at eye level with those on adjacent sunpads. A fan of deck chairs line the after bulwark, but can be removed, along with a lightweight composite section of the bulwark itself, to transform the area into an emergency helicopter pad.

Contact: Feadship America Inc., (954) 761-1830; fax (954) 761-3412. Feadship Holland B.V., (011) 31 23 524 70 00; fax (011) 31 23 524 86 39;