Island Fever

Where yacht and private island meet. "Telltales" from our March 2012 issue.

March 2012 Telltales
March 2012 TelltalesSteve Haefele

A pal of mine who owns a large expedition yacht sent me a clipping from a marine trade rag heralding a breakthrough in marine design — the Yacht Island. A colorful illustration of the computer modeling of the yacht … er … island had nearly caused my friend to wet himself. I remained continent and continued reading. The "superyacht industry" is big on awarding itself for its vision, and something called the SYOG (Superyacht Owners Guide) had chosen the Yacht Island as the winner of its Superyacht Design of the Future award. Good God … could an island be the future of yachting?

"The majority of yachts have evolved to the traditional form that has derived from millennia of engineering and naval architecture," the designers explained. OK, what's wrong with that? The Yacht Island's design has been developed "free from such restrictive thought" — uh-oh! The winning design, called Utopia, looks something like a giant smoke detector atop four Chippendale table legs. Measuring 213 feet high and 328 feet in length and beam, she (if a Yacht Island is a she) would have a beam-length ratio of one — think oil rig. Thrusters would move the Yacht Island about at low speed, allowing her skipper to "redeploy." With 11 decks and a 13th floor observatory Utopia would have enough space for an entire "micronation," her designers suggest. I'm guessing that's plenty of room for freeloading friends, rotten kids and mother(s)-in-law.

While Utopia caught the judge's eye it was the 90-meter Tropical Island Paradise that moved my pal. Its design, said to be inspired by the islands of the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Polynesia, seems the sort of boat George Jetson would design for Fred Flintstone. The hull looks a bit like the headquarters of Spacely Sprockets while the main deck is laid out like the town of Bedrock with thatched-roof huts and a lagoon fed by a waterfall cascading from a volcano. The volcano has an owner's suite. Even Gilligan and the Skipper would be comfortable aboard because the diesel/electric-powered Tropical Island Paradise is capable of more than just a three-hour cruise! My pal insists that his Tropical Island Paradise would have an active volcano spewing nubile young women and ice-cold Kalik — I like that.

Those interested in something a bit more upscale might be moved by the 155-meter Streets of Monaco model, which the designers suggest "takes the streets of Monaco to sea" — no tsunami required! Diesel/electric power will give her a cruising speed of 15 knots, and her small-waterplane-area twin hull (SWATH) has allowed the "exploration of bold and daring design ideas without the restrictions of a conventional hull shape." These days a yacht that looks like a yacht is — well — passé! Tired of personal submarines, paddle boards and PWCs? No worries, the Streets of Monaco has a fully functioning go-cart circuit, and as you lap your principality you can blast past the bell stand of your own Hotel de Paris. On the upper deck you'll find Casino Square and aft Port Hercule Harbour, which has a depth of 10 feet — perfect for the swim-up bar. The prince's palace? Your master stateroom, of course!

If Monaco isn't enough I suspect the dreamers that came up with the Yacht Island will be glad to model you a Super Yacht Island — perhaps the_ Island of Manhattan_? Imagine five boroughs of pleasure all for yourself. Be prepared — it will cost you a bit more than beads. According to estimates, the first lucky yachtsman to catch island fever will have to pony up close to a billion bucks for the Streets of Monaco with all the options.

I’ve been thinking that instead of a Yacht Island I’m going to model an Island Yacht. A modest cluster of coral with four decks and an Awlgrip paint job. Imagine no dockage, fuel or bottom paint. Now that’s vision!