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Refitting the Superyacht ‘Broadwater’

The 171-foot ‘Broadwater’ is derived from a 25-year-old yacht, proving that a major refit doesn’t need a complete upheaval of the yacht.

July 23, 2021
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1994 Feadship refit
Among the most noticeable changes to Rasselas, which is now Broadwater, post-refit: blue hull paint. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Tom van Oossanen

Toward the end of October 2018, Adam Voorhees of Adam Voorhees Design took a call from a client asking him to take a look at a 171-footer he was considering buying. The yacht was Rasselas, a 1994 Feadship. Classically styled down to its wood cap rails, the yacht bore an equally classic raised-panel mahogany interior and was largely unaltered since launch. More significant, despite 25 years afloat, it showed little age. “I thought it was a pretty nice platform, with the Feadship pedigree we all love,” Voorhees says.

Having just worked with this client on a 10-month refit, Voorhees knew two things were important. First, how fast could a transformation take place, to ensure the owner’s treasured time with friends and family could begin? Second, how clever could they be in profoundly changing a number of things without radically altering the yacht at its core?

1994 Feadship refit
“It’s a big feather in their cap,” Peter Wilson says in reference to Royal Huisman. Best known for its sailing superyachts, the yard is actively pursuing power and sail refits, plus new-build motoryachts. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Tom van Oossanen

Less than nine months later, during summer 2019, Rasselas was in the hands of Royal Huisman’s Huisfit team, with a lengthy work list to turn the superyacht into Broadwater by the following spring. Tasks such as adding 13 feet to its transom and leaving essentially no part of it untouched were challenging enough for the timeline. Then came the pandemic. Peter Wilson, co-founder of MCM and the owner’s representative, says it “turned everything upside down.”

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Decisive action—from the owner to Royal Huisman and everyone in between—made the refit succeed. Voorhees describes the design changes as “an evolution rather than revolution,” and it also helped that the owner knew about yachts and refits. While he’s owned boats of varying sizes, he’s acquired and extensively refitted two other Feadships. The first was a 163-footer built in 1990, the ex-Mi Gaea, refitted at Rybovich as his first Broadwater. The second was a 165-footer from 2000, the ex-Blue Moon, transformed at Florida’s Lauderdale Marine Center. That yacht also became Broadwater.

1994 Feadship refit
A 13-foot extension helped accommodate a beach club, something not found on yachts from the early 1990s. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Tom van Oossanen

The newest Broadwater underwent a lot of work too, but its refit couldn’t have been more different. “The previous Broadwater was approached as a gut job because we’d planned to do it that way,” Voorhees says. “This was different because she’s really classic and functional, so we thought, ‘Let’s see how much we can respect of this lovely vessel’” while layering on what matched the owner’s aesthetic and lifestyle.

Wilson agrees: “The owner wanted to breathe new life into the boat, but at the same time leave the original Feadship DNA intact—just make her more current and to have the features that one would expect of a superyacht today.”

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1994 Feadship refit
An Alexander Calder sculpture inspired custom pieces such as the dining table and wine display cabinet. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Onne van der Wal

Those features include a beach club, which in combination with a more welcoming main deck aft came from a 13-foot transom extension, designed by Voorhees and fabricated by the shipyard. New features also include the sun deck, where “a ton of physical transformation completely changed the layout,” Voorhees says. For the owner and charter guests, five sun-deck areas cater to different activities, while still feeling connected. Two or three people can choose an intimate corner, for example, while boisterous conversations go on at the bar and adjacent sun pad. Alternatively, the entire deck can become one large party platform. The radar mast and hardtop are new designs—with the addition of a day head in the base.

1994 Feadship refit
The overarching theme for the refit was casual elegance. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Onne van der Wal

The most dramatic changes are inside. Whereas Rasselas looked and felt like a proverbial gentlemen’s club, Broadwater is “a dialogue between the casually elegant with the cleverly unexpected,” Voorhees says.

Scant paneling retains its rich stain; instead, it’s painted white, letting the custom furnishings and the owner’s art collection shine. (No one wanted to remove the old-growth mahogany.) Added in are brushed, rift European oak, open-grain black walnut and fumed eucalyptus. These materials combine with textural stones and patinated bronze without adhering to one particular theme. Influences range from classical nautical tradition to equally classic French and Italian art deco, as well as from midcentury Scandinavian to a dose of California modernism.

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1994 Feadship refit
Adam Voorhees praises Huisfit’s interior project engineer, Ad Diepstraten, calling him “an interiors guru.” Voorhees adds that “he has a craftsman’s eye,” resulting in “a very easy conversation,” especially when the unexpected dictated a design pivot. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Onne van der Wal

Broadwater is even more different behind its walls. Bringing a private-use, 25-year-old yacht into compliance for charter is no small feat. It involved replacing the fire-suppression system, establishing new fire boundaries, rebuilding the gantry cranes for the rescue tender, and more, along with numerous conversations with Lloyd’s classification and Jamaica flag-state officials. “It’s not just combing through a rule book,” Wilson says.

As if that weren’t complex enough, COVID-19 hit. Wilson credits Royal Huisman with creating three factory shifts to maintain social distancing and momentum. As helpful as the effort was in minimizing delays, though, it meant “questions were coming day and night,” Wilson says. “A lot of caffeine was involved to keep answers flowing.” Having the owner’s captain on-site for the full yard period, “a great set of eyes and ears,” aided greatly. So too did the limited visits he and the owner could make.

1994 Feadship refit
Royal Huisman’s Huisfit landed the project due in part to an earlier visit the yacht made to the shipyard in 2019. Courtesy Royal Huisman/Onne van der Wal

“It’s profoundly important to make on-site decisions,” Wilson says. “Plus, he enjoys it.”

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With the new-and-improved Broadwater in his hands for several months now, the owner is pleased with the results. Among the three Feadship yachts the owner has transformed, Wilson says, “This is his favorite one so far.”

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