A Terrible Beauty: Delta 154

What's in a name? This 154-foot Delta would be as sweet by any other.

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As yacht names go, Mr.Terrible is a real attention-grabber. No, the owner of the 154-foot Delta Marine motoryacht is not unhappy with the builder's product. Nor was it built with settlement funds from a nasty divorce. Why then such a name? A clue, at least for residents of four western states, lies in the mustachioed figure whose image is evident throughout the yacht. The miniature marshal, sporting an oversized hat and star and brandishing a gas nozzle in place of a Colt, is the logo for Terrible Herbst, the owner's chain of service stations, casinos and motorsports teams spread across California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

The sleek yacht might better have been christened Mr. Magnificent, for it is a wonderful blend of clean, modern exterior styling, fanciful and innovative interior décor, and solid, progressive engineering. Any yacht, of necessity, is a combination of freeform art, structured design, and detailed engineering minutiae. Three lead designers, each managing a team, shouldered responsibility for Mr. Terrible. Adriel Rollins, of the Delta Design Group, was responsible for the interior design. J.C. Espinosa, of Espinosa Inc., was responsible, jointly with Delta, for the exterior styling and interior space planning. Jay Miner is the head of the Delta Design Group, and as such, was responsible for naval architecture and marine engineering, as well as integrating input from Rollins and Espinosa into a cohesive and functional whole.

The three worked from an owner's brief that was simple in its direction, more complicated in its execution. It called for two main elements: First, it was to be centered around a tropical Polynesian theme, but to be fresh, not clichéd; and second, to be elegant without being formal, in the owner's words, to "be just as welcoming and comfortable as home." And of course, not least, it had to be fast, quiet, reliable, and safe at sea.

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The result is so much more than an upscale version of tiki torches and hanging tropical fruit lanterns, although the pure innocent fun of such inspiration comes through in the riot of exotic hardwoods and other natural materials, including reeds and seashells, that comprise the majority of the interior décor. The colorful array of art glass that adorns the bulkheads and overheads reinforces the central Polynesian theme.

Exotic woods are everywhere. Bubinga is used for most of the joinery and cabinetwork, with wenge highlights and nosings. Figured koa, lacewood, and pear are used for accent paneling in various areas, and African walnut is used for decking, with Honduran mahogany woven into a starburst pattern at the midship entrances.

The dining room is especially interesting in fulfilling the owner's design brief. The overhead is executed in woven leather, the pattern resembling that of the thatched roof of a native hut. The chandelier mimics a tree, multicolored blown glass fruit hanging below polished stainless steel fronds. Polished stainless was selected for use here to reflect the light. It was also used for the same reason in various recessed niches, as well as to offer a view of the normally hidden reverse side of objets d'art. The drawer fronts in the dining room resemble reptile skins, and are repeated in the skylounge, where, stretched over the table bases, they echo the look of jungle drums. The use of custom blown glass continues in a school of colorful jellyfish adorning a bulkhead, and in the nautilus-inspired skylight in the master stateroom.

This is a yacht that should have clear glass panels in the main deck so every guest could see the engineroom. As might be expected of an owner whose working life centers around machinery and motorsports, Mr. Terrible's engineroom is a showpiece in itself. The dominant color is chrome, or rather stainless steel polished to within an inch of its life to resemble chrome. This is complemented by the high-gloss cherry red of the engines and the white of the remainder of the space. Even the bilges have been faired and given a coat of gloss white.

Mr. Terrible has four en suite guest staterooms, each with a queen berth, on the lower deck. The main deck carries a full-beam master stateroom forward, along with the galley, salon, dining room, bar, and outdoor seating. The swim platform is fitted with rails, deck sockets, and cabinets to allow for occasional fishing use. The master stateroom features a bathing area forward, recessed two steps down, divided from the sleeping area by a reduced-height bulkhead that allows light from the nautilus skylight to filter down to the shower and whirlpool tub.

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The interior spaces aboard Mr. Terrible are spacious and comfortable, but it is in her expansive exterior spaces that the yacht really shines. The upper deck carries the wheelhouse and skylounge, but the captain's cabin is on the lower deck, to allow more open deck space for guests. There's a bar and dinette area here, as well as space for tender stowage, and on the top deck, there's a helm station and a whirlpool spa.

From the waterline to the top deck, Mr. Terrible seems to be in touch with her environment more than many yachts her size. Even her inside has a casual outside feel, and the décor transports her guests to a far-off paradise, regardless of her actual locale, always "as welcoming and comfortable as home."

Delta Marine, (206)763-2383; www.deltamarine.com