Feadship SL39

Ocean Mercury is the first of Feadship's new SL39 series, where unique specifications meet the convenience of a semi-custom build.

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The 128-foot steel and aluminum trideck motoryacht from Feadship, Ocean Mercury, brings a message to the yachting world, much as her mythological namesake did for the Roman gods of antiquity. While not the largest of the Feadship fleet, she carries quite a burden for the renowned Dutch builder. This model, known as the SL39, is a new design, but, more than that, Ocean Mercury represents the beginning of an entirely fresh concept for Feadship: a series of motoryachts that will meet the company's high standard for quality and customer satisfaction in a semi-custom package.

Variously known as modular design or distributed architecture, the concept seeks to offer maximum flexibility of layout and utility, while standardizing as much of the underlying platform as possible. This idea has been used extensively in military and commercial shipbuilding, and even by some other boatbuilders, but has never been presented in such an organized fashion as by Feadship. By keeping the hull, superstructure, propulsion, electrical, and auxiliary systems standard, and allowing a wide array of customer choices in both layout and décor, Feadship can offer yachts that carry their signature quality without the lead time, cost, and uncertainty inherent in a custom build.

With numerous options available for the layout, and nearly unlimited possibilities in décor, no two yachts should ever be the same. The differences will be determined by customers to suit personal preferences and intended usage, and they will enjoy the benefits of yachts that, for all practical intents, are custom-built to their direction.

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The guest-quarter options include the traditional four-stateroom plan around a central winding staircase, as well as a plan with two fullbeam VIP suites with sitting areas. There's also a hybrid layout with one VIP suite and two queen staterooms, and a flexible plan that includes two queen staterooms and two adjoining sitting rooms that can be converted to additional staterooms, for a total of four, when needed.

Here, and in the other optional spaces, the location of the staircases and main bulkheads are fixed to minimize changes from boat to boat. That will not, however, prove much of an impediment to customizing your own yacht. In addition to the four choices presented by Feadship, it would be possible to develop many other layouts, as long as one "colors inside the lines," staying within the physical limits defined by the hull, superstructure and bulkheads, and within the engineering parameters defined by Feadship.

As with the guest accommodations belowdecks, Feadship presents four options for the on-deck owner's stateroom. Two are fairly traditional, with a single full-beam stateroom for the owner. One of these has a study outside the main cabin, with a king berth off-center to port and a comfortable sitting area to starboard within the main room. The other has a centerline king berth, with a study to starboard and a smaller sitting area to port.

The other two choices for the owner's quarters have two staterooms rather than one. The first has an owner's suite adjacent to a smaller cabin suitable for a child or grandchild, a nurse, or a personal assistant-or a snoring spouse. The second has staterooms port and starboard. Although Feadship refers to them as owner's and VIP, they are nearly equal in size and amenities. It would be suitable for a yacht shared by two owners, or, coupled with the four-stateroom layout belowdecks, would create a six-stateroom, twelve-guest yacht ideally suited to regular charter service.

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Abaft the owner's area are the fixed galley to port and the central staircase, as well as a guest entry foyer and a day-head to starboard. Further aft is the main lounge area, which includes the salon and dining areas. One formal layout has a closed dining room forward and symmetrical sitting areas port and starboard in the salon. A second arrangement, considerably less formal and designed more for casual entertaining, has a large bar forward to port and a small dinette to starboard, rather than a dining room. The remaining two arrangements have open dining rooms, but differ in the layout of the salon.

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The final area of options is the bridgedeck. In three of the four plans presented by Feadship, the wheelhouse is a functional space isolated from the guest lounge by a bulkhead and intervening areas variously consisting of a captain's office, a captain's cabin, a service pantry, a gym, and a day-head. The after portion of the space in one design is a skylounge with seating clustered around a central point for conversation and cinema viewing. In another, the skylounge has a bar and game table to port, and a conversation area to starboard. The third layout has a spacious dining room in place of a skylounge, the obvious complement to the main-deck arrangement that omits the dining room.

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The fourth bridgedeck arrangement maximizes party space at the expense of the utility and crew spaces included in the other three. The wheelhouse is open, pillars taking the place of the bulkhead, and includes a spacious, curved companion settee and table. There's a large bar centrally located adjacent to the stairway, and the after portion of the space has comfortable conversation groupings to port and starboard.

As a result of these many choices, one can look at Ocean Mercury in a different light. What did the owner select, and why? He was an admirer of High Chaparral, an earlier custom Feadship of 164 feet, so he engaged designer Terry Disdale to create a similar ambiance in the more compact SL39 package. The degree of Disdale's success is clearly evident in Ocean Mercury. I've been aboard High Chaparral, and so recognized a hint of the larger yacht, but only enough to be reminiscent without being duplicative. The décor is primarily oak, with light fabric panels and touches of tan and brown. It is reserved, without the more formal English gentlemen's club feel of High Chaparral, and seems considerably lighter and more airy inside.

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In terms of layout, Ocean Mercury is a family yacht, so the owner set indoor comfort and high service levels as his priorities, with crew logistics figuring prominently into the mix. Anchoring the layout belowdecks is an arrangement with four staterooms that can convert to two VIP suites, and one of the convertible cabins is outfitted specifically as a baby's room. On deck, a full-beam owner's stateroom has his-and-hers baths and additional stowage. An open dining room features a table for eight with rosewood and ebony inlays and comfortable leather chairs. The salon includes loose settees and chairs, and a large pivoting video screen. To either side of the sliding doors to the aft deck are bronze and ivory statues on marble bases.

The bridgedeck incorporates a captain's cabin and service pantry, with a dumbwaiter from the galley that also serves the crew quarters. The skylounge has a 64-inch video screen and the aft deck can join the fun when the four sliding glass doors are opened fully, creating a single huge space that mingles the indoors and outdoors. Open bridge wings outboard of the wheelhouse aid in docking and closequarter maneuvering.

The top deck is fully dedicated to guest leisure. Ocean Mercury is intended primarily for use in the Mediterranean, so there's a whirlpool spa and sun-bathing area forward, and a central shaded area with fixed seating for relaxation and casual dining. The aft end of the deck is open, with loose seating for flexible use.

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As the first of the SL39 series, Ocean Mercury is proof that a Feadship can be delivered in a relatively compact package, and in a shorter time frame, while still retaining the quality and value for which the marque is famous. A second SL39, Kathleen Anne, has already been delivered and is also cruising the Med, and a third will splash shortly. Sisters but not twins, each is different, and yet they share a family resemblance-and the Feadship pedigree.

Feadship, (954) 761-1830; **www.feadship.nl**