Vicem's stunning Vulcan 46M launches this Turkish shipyard into the superyacht market.
July 23, 2013
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The stakes were high for a shipyard without experience in this range: Vicem had to not only meet Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) classification standards and the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) certificate for charter, but also design a superyacht that could compete against the best European and U.S. shipyards. I wondered about the name, until I discovered that Vulcan referred to the ancient Roman god of fire rather than Mr. Spock.
I couldn’t help letting out a low, admiring whistle when I first saw the Vulcan 46M at the Antibes show in April. It was unlike any Vicem I’d ever seen, including the 107-foot motoryacht introduced last year. The navy-blue hull, with its light-gray superstructure, was sleek, modern and regal beside the other superyachts, most of them with European pedigrees, on “Millionaire’s Row” at the docks. The Vulcan fit right in, and the crowds were drawn to her.
When I traveled to Turkey six weeks later to spend more time aboard, I wondered if the Vulcan 46M’s magic would fade without the glamorous Riviera surroundings. But she was right at home at Palmarina, a new facility in Yalikavak outside of Bodrum. The Vicem was docked between a yacht from a well-known Dutch builder and a sleek, 50-meter Italian beauty. The Vulcan offered a subtle, understated contrast to the vessels that flanked her. Frank Mulder, the Dutch naval architect known for his fast superyacht designs, did the 46’s exterior, while Art-Line, which worked on Helia (Heesen), Sophia III (Moonen) and Vive la Vie (Lürssen), created the clean, expansive interior. The shipyard also hired project managers from the United States and the Netherlands to oversee the build process, while calling in other experts to train workers in composite infusion techniques. Vicem was determined to hit a home run with this yacht.
Leapfrogging to the front of the superyacht pack with a thoroughly modern 150-foot, composite trideck that makes speeds of up to 25 knots is no easy task, especially if your shipyard has built mostly midsize, cold-molded, mahogany hulls for the past 20 years. But that’s what Vicem has done with its Vulcan 46-meter, the latest in a trio of composite superyachts.Courtesy Vicem Yachts
Twenty years ago, Vicem founder Sebahattin Hafizoglu had a very different vision for his Turkish shipyard. Hafizoglu figured rightly that a select group of U.S. yachtsmen would appreciate the craftsmanship that went into Vicem’s mahogany interiors and the strength of its cold-molded hulls. He also offered a highly customized boat at a competitive price. Vicem’s Classic (think Down East styling, 55 to 80 feet) and Cruiser (long-range motoryachts, 68 to 107 feet) series attracted new owners, and the yard even built some 64-foot sport-fish models with a Carolina flare.
But the Vulcan models, a 32-, 35- and now 46-meter, mark a sea change for the Antalya shipyard. The Vulcans are considerably larger than Vicem’s other lines, employing fresh technology and advanced composite construction. That is especially true of the Vulcan 46M, which was designed with a relatively shallow draft of 7 feet 6 inches, a 25-knot top end, transatlantic range and staterooms for 12 guests and seven crew.
“When we had a choice of good, better or best, we always chose best,” says Gary Smith, president of Vicem of the Americas. “We took longer than we’d initially expected for the build, but we wanted everything just right.” The Vulcan 46M did her shakedown cruise from Antalya to Antibes, then back again to Yalikavak in southern Turkey. She put 350 hours on the engines in the first months, with no issues. Capt. Massimo Marras, who’d been with her during the build, told me he was very happy with the performance.
The first impression you get from Mulder’s exterior is that it’s well-proportioned and sleek, definitely not a top-heavy floating condo. Secondly, you notice space and light as you pass through an electrically opening cockpit door into the salon. Art-Line left a clear line of sight from the salon at the rear to the master suite in the bow and engineered a sizable atrium around the amidships stairway. It allows sunlight to filter down through all three decks. Headroom is also a generous 7 feet throughout most of the interior.
Vicem opted for high-gloss Brazilian rosewood instead of its signature mahogany for this vessel’s interior, with a few exceptions in spots, like in the woven coconut shell that covers the aft entry wall. With the proliferation of natural light, the red-tone mahogany provided a rich contrast to the stark-white carpeting and headliner. The joinery and furniture, built by Vicem’s master craftsmen, add warmth, and I couldn’t find flaws or mismatched grains in any of the wood. A rosewood dinner table for 10 showed off a perfect starburst grain at its center. Art-Line also took a page from Vicem’s past by designing the walls like the internal frame of a wooden boat, with a slight curve and thick wood and fiberglass insets shaped like a boat’s ribs. It’s a reference that’s eye-pleasing, without hitting you over the head.
The owner’s suite forward on the main deck places the bed in the center of the space with a rosewood floor that loops around forward like a wooden path. On the outboard starboard side across from the bed are twin lounges, with a hanging locker, a toilet and bidet, and a large shower forward of them. Concealed behind a centerline, floor-to-ceiling bulkhead just forward of the bed is a Jacuzzi tub. The portside of the suite sports a vanity across from the bed with another hanging locker and matching sinks found farther forward. A cubicle with an exercise machine is at the rear of the suite. Vicem also used quality components across the suite: Tecma full-size toilet, Cantalupi LED lighting, Italian marble, Alape ceramic sink and Dornbracht stainless-steel fixtures. Those components also are used in the four en suite staterooms on the deck below, two with twin berths and two with queen berths. About halfway through the build, Vicem decided to install Apple iPad 2s in the staterooms and salons so that owners and guests could control the entertainment system.
That commitment to the latest system caused delays, but the tech pursuit can be seen in the pilothouse too, with best-in-class electronics: Furuno GMDSS and SSAS, Raymarine and Anschutz radar (S- and X-band), Anschutz autopilot and gyro compass, and Saab DGPS. After my initial tour, Marras steered the Vulcan into the island-dotted waters near Bodrum. The twin 3,650-horsepower MTU diesels soon had the superyacht cruising along at 22 knots, shouldering into a 15-knot headwind. Seas were running 3 to 5 feet, but we could hardly feel any motion at the helm as she hit her top end of 24.7 knots.
Marras says the Vulcan 46M will reach 25.5 knots in calm conditions. Smith says she climbed to as high as 28.2 knots during the initial sea trials, before the interior was installed. Running at 12 knots, which Marras did on the return trip from France to Turkey, the 150-footer had a range of 4,000 nautical miles. The sky lounge abaft the wheelhouse is another entertaining area of the Vulcan 46M, with the same sense of space as the lower-deck salon but with a bar and entertainment center. A retractable, 46-inch Panasonic TV turns the sky lounge into a home cinema. The bar here connects to the dumbwaiter, allowing food from the galley to reach the immense 5-by-10-foot teak table on the deck outside.
The flybridge above features several different entertainment zones, including a bar and lounge at the front, a six-person sun bed in the center (with a pop-up 42-inch satellite LG TV) and a Jacuzzi tub at the stern. Vicem didn’t skimp on the creature comforts: There are 24 LED lights on the radar arch alone, with JL Audio speakers scattered around the flybridge.
Vicem also paid close attention to the transom garage and engine room. A crane in the garage moves the 21-foot Castoldi jet tender, while two 210 hp Yamaha WaveRunners are positioned nearby. Just forward of the garage, the engine room is bright and spacious with good working room around the MTUs. Two 115 kW Northern Lights generators provide power on the hook, while two Sea Recovery watermakers turn out 2,800 gallons of fresh water per day.
The Boffi-designed galley, with its battery of Gaggenau and Miele equipment, provides excellent work space for the chef. The dumbwaiter, as mentioned, enables dining possibilities all over the yacht.
The real secret to the Vulcan 46M’s success, of course, is her composite construction. In order to get the speed, range and draft that Vicem wanted, the yard had to invest in new build processes. Advanced composites, including Corecell, Hexion epoxy resin and Kevlar reinforcements, were used in the vacuum-infusion process to achieve the best possible strength-to-weight ratios. The build also included post-curing with heat blankets after lamination to reduce fairing. “Corecell technology was in its infancy when we started the project,” says Smith. “We knew we had to wow people. If you do average construction, you’re just one of the pack. It took a lot of engineering and re-engineering to get this hull right, but we did it.”
This new technique has proved so successful that Vicem is now providing a choice of infused composite or cold-molded construction on all of its models, except this larger Vulcan line. In the superyacht segment, the builder is offering an interesting alternative wih the Vulcan 46M. Do I hear 175-footer? Vicem Yachts, 954-462-8828; vicemyacht.com
DISPL.: 606,270 lb. (full load)
FUEL: 12,830 gal.
WATER: 1,980 gal.
ENGINES: 2 x 3,650 hp
MTU 16V4000 M90 diesels
RICE: $31.5 million Click here to see more yachts from Vicem.