Yachts are a second home for many Tampa Bay residents who are lucky enough to embark upon weekend- or weeks-long adventures in their free time. It wasn’t so long ago that yachts had predictably dark interiors. Those up to, say, 60-ish feet had gloomy mahogany walls, small bronze portholes and built-in furniture. Even larger yachts rarely strayed from what might be called Early Bordello: heavy red drapes and clunky furnishings.
Today, the advent of new materials, and frankly, a new think on the part of interior designers has changed things. If you were to be led blindfolded aboard a modern yacht and then released in the salon, you might not know if you were in a New York or Miami penthouse, a villa in St. Tropez or a coastal cottage in New England. Owners and designers have embraced shoreside décor for yachts, making them not only more livable but also more cheerful and fun. Windows are huge, and builders have opened up the interior to the cockpit for an alfresco lifestyle. At the same time, master staterooms have become serene suites as getaways from guests.
Take the Cruisers 60 Flybridge (Galati Yachts/St. Pete), with a master suite that exudes calm with a king-sized berth and a cozy table for two to enjoy morning coffee or a ferocious game of backgammon.
The Leopard 46 had an immediate acceptance in the bareboat charter fleets, such as The Moorings (Clearwater) for its breezy interior and alfresco cockpit. Because of its ease of maintenance and indestructibility (necessary for rental fleets), private owners have embraced the 46 as well.
The Ocean Alexander 90 (MarineMax/Clearwater) is notable for its oversized windows surrounding the salon, which includes a formal dining area for six. The salon also features comfy chairs in an entertainment setting with a pop-up big screen TV for evenings with popcorn.
The Princess Y72 is a departure for British imports with its coastal interior of pale grays and whites. Combined with the huge windows (even in the master suite), there is a definite connection to the outdoors. The master suite features a loveseat on one side and a vanity/desk opposite, but who can work with that view?
Sportfishing yachts were once rough-and-ready, with Spartan interiors to withstand the fishing action. But III Amigos, with a Patrick Knowles interior, has all the hallmarks of a luxury yacht, such as the elegantly cool master suite with a multi-drawer bureau for long voyages and a chaise for enjoying a spy novel in quiet. The salon is also casual, whether guests are using the bar stools to keep the chef company or sprawled on the couch watching an action flick on the large pop-up TV.
The bespoke Hargrave 108, with an interior by Shelley DiCondina, of Yacht Interiors by Shelley, followed this owner’s edict: “everything Art Deco.” The result is intricate inlays on the cabinetry, Art Deco designs on paneling and a backlit and etched headboard in the master suite. No detail was too small to orchestrate, from the peacock feather motif on a stemware cabinet in the dining area to vintage sconces to the elevator joining all three decks.
From Italy comes the Sanlorenzo SP110, a breakthrough yacht with a full-height atrium spanning the two living areas. The furniture is coolly chic, from the Eames chair that begs for a good book to the democratically square dining table that seats eight with plenty of room for pasta. At night the cockpit area turns into a softly lit wonderland for alfresco meals or a sip of Sambuca.
South America is on the list as well, with the Schaefer 770 as sexy as a thong on a Brazilian beach. Warm Brazilian mahogany and oversized windows seem stolen from a penthouse overlooking the Copacabana and cushy seating is close to the U-shaped galley where you might find the makings of the legendary caipirinha cocktail.
Last but far from least (certainly in fuel consumption) is the Silent 60, which proves the “Tesla moment” has arrived in yachting. Entirely electric powered with lithium batteries filled by seemingly endless solar panels on the roof, the 60 is a catamaran, both for slipping easily through the water and for max space in the 29-foot salon. Opening entirely to the cockpit through sliders, the salon is wide and airy.
No one except perhaps a few crusty old salts begrudge the new bright yacht interiors, which encourage not just long weekends aboard in luxury, but long voyages as well.
Chris Caswell is an award-winning writer and the former editor of several yachting magazines. He has appeared on Oprah as a boating lifestyle expert and hosted the Marine Voyager series on the Speed Channel.
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