A Business Acquaintance phoned in the spring of 2014 to say a polo team owner she was working for had mentioned he had bought and refitting a classics feadship. Would it be of interest for the refit book?
Perhaps, what Feadship?
I think it is called Charade. Would that be right?
That took me back. Decades back. Charade: I recalled the big red wall of her entrance and upper saloon bar: the charming face of her logo: her fireplace: her build caption Rick Arnold: and interviewing her owners aboard their jet as they cleared customs and refuel led at Fort Lauder dale’s Airport. Californians Joanie and Paul deutz were fresh from their first Caribbean cruise on Charade. I remember that their enthusiasm for the yacht, indeed the entire willed process, fairly bubbled over. They had charted for years, but this was the first own yacht, her 47 metre feadship it turns out that Charade was my first Feadship feature as well, all though that didn’t don’t on me until I researched the original article and realized I had to go back to the September 1991 issue of show boards international magazine to find it. Co incidentally, the article was entitled “ opening act ”
I looked at the pages of 25 year old words, smiling at the notion that what passes for her “ classic feadship” today, I described then as a bold update to the traditional Frits de VOOGT lines. The typical squarish stern had been “ replaced by an attractive cascade of steps that pill from the board deck to her permanent full – with swim platform”
I noted; “The flying bridge has no bridge. The wheel house has no wheel. Philosophically and technically charade is the most innovative feadship yet.”
Let’s fast forward, it’s March 2015 and I’m in the executive office of BG capital group. BG charade’s enthusiastic (new) owner is bubbling over about the rebuild process of his first feadship at Derecktor Florida. Bobby Genovese is a Canadian entrepreneur with Barbados based BG capital group, a company that ranges far, wide and diversely across the western hemisphere. He has a collection of rare wooden racing boats and vintage Great Lakes cruiser, and the business operates a sun seeker and a Lazarra as successful day charter boats in Miami. But, BG Charade is obviously an exciting acquisition and in a different league.
Charade was built to be a comfortable home. Its interior was by Dale Montgomery and Louis Rey of McMillen and Company of New York, which had also designed several of the Deutzes’ residences and the very jet I met them abroad. The master was on the main deck along with a big saloon and separate dining room, and the lower deck had four equal guest cabins. The upper saloon, with its huge bar, was designed by parties. The exterior decks were modest as the family was more interested in diving and water sports, which had driven the new stern arrangement and the bathing platform for improved water access.
The yacht’s second and longest duration owner was Paul Allen, who made very few changes to the interior. In fact he liked McMillen and company’s work so much that he asked the firm to style his new build, Meduse in 1996.
Genovese was impressed with the yacht’s appearance and her travels, and with the fact that she had been owned not only by the meticulous Allen but also by serial boat owner Joe Lewis, who chose her for his interim floating home. It was during this phase that Genovese discovered her outside his home at Albany in the Bahamas.
He wanted to sell and I wanted to buy, it made sense. I mean there were only 300 hours to the main engines since they had been zeroed “ says Genovese.”The boat had great structure for updating” he was able to attract as project manager kelly Seger, who had formerly worked for the company that had managed the boat in the past and knew bow to stern.
Unlike some other Feadships launched at the time, charade was built to Lloyd’s at classification. She had also been maintained in class, which made her upgrade to LY2 certification possible. Her previous managers had thought that a future owner might want to opt for charter and had made moves in that direction with interim upgrades such as enclosing the bow thruster in a watertight compartment six years ago.
“ I had a particular style in mind that I thought would be a fitting update and popular for charter – I call it Newport beach house. To me it says sophisticated comfort,” says Genovese. “ It’s grey and white,relaxed but upscale.”To make sure he was on the right path, he spent time considerable aboard the boat.
He was also able to track down Robert Shepherd, now a yacht broker for Edmiston in New York. “ He was Paul Allen’s long- time chef. He came down and walked the boat with us. He actually gave us the idea to eliminate the dining room. He told me that in 12 years, Paul used the formal dining room four times.” This is how the boat came to gain a VIP cabin on the main deck. “Not many people have the chance to add a second master suite to a boat during a refit,” says Genovese, obviously pleased.
From day one, he was determined to remove all the carpets and install hardwood floors. On many older boats, removing carpets can spell disaster as they and their heavy underlays were used to reduce sound and vibration. But ripped up the carpeting on charade he discovered that every floor had a rubber and lead sound layer. Intrigued, he opened up more surfaces and found soundproofing on both sides of every wall. ”This has the most soundproofing I’ve seen on an older boat,” he says. “It’s almost built like a new yacht. Today, the materials would be lighter, but it was extremely well built. We didn’t have to replace a single sub – floor.”
A major item on the refit list was the replacement of the original vosper fin stabilisers with Quantum Zero speeds. “A lot of people said we didn’t need to because of the weight and stability of the vessel, but I know among the first questions asked by a charter broker or a potential charter client is, ‘Does the boat have at – anchor stabilisation?’ I wanted to make sure we could answer with a ‘yes’ instead of a ‘no, but…’” The decision did, however, create a big surprise for the owner, who says: “I came down to look at the progress and there’s my new boat with two big holes in the bottom!”
With this amount of work going on it was logical to prepare the boat for both her five- year and 25- year surveys. The chilled water system was found to be failing, which required new insulated piping in 90 percent of the yacht.
Since new metal work on the hull for the stabilisers meant that the bottom had to be blasted back to bare steel, Seger decided that instead of traditional antifouling, the bottom would be given a super- slippery silicone coating by PPG called SigmaGlide. “It should last us five years and increase our efficiency at the same time,” he says. “Our figures predict[240 litres per hour] fuel burn at cruising speed with gensets running. And then there’s the whole matter of not putting poison in contact with marine life.”
For the interior rebuild, Genovese turned to Dee Dee Eustace, founder of Taylor Hanna Architect of Toronto, which has more than 200 projects in the residential and hospitality sector to its credit. Eustace says she likes to express the individual character of each space by incorporating context and heritage yet creating a timeless quality.
Genovese says: “ Boats are a passion of mine, I never miss a boat show. Once I got started on this project, I wanted to put everything that I ever saw on this boat. So much for the original three- month paint and new furniture plan.”
The obvious big change to the living arrangements is in the multifunction main saloon incorporating dining, while the separate formal dining saloon is now a smart main deck VIP with en suite. The master was also reconfigured to increase the size of its en suite and allow room for a bath. “ They dine all over the boat rather than in one place. There is a far more value in having two suites with king – size beds and a tub than in a formal dining saloon.”
As to the decor, Eustace says that the original mix of lots of limed oak and a variety of stone surfaces dated the interior. She chose a single stone for the entire yacht. As for the limed oak, she says: “Have you ever tried to convince a man to paint over wood?” she prevailed, however. The joinery style was contemporary enough that it lent itself to a mix of gloss and matt paint and flat base boards, simple chromed hardware and blinds at the windows. While investigating a more simplified overhead treatment, the owner and designer found that they could easily gain an additional 10 centimetres of height throughout the main deck.
“The new layout for the main deck demanded a new lighting plan and that allowed us to reduce dependence on [recessed] lights in favour or more indirect lighting, wall washers and task lighting, which I prefer more for its residential atmosphere,” says Eustace. “Sofas, chairs and linens are all monochromatic in shades of white and grey. The few colour accents come through artwork and pillows and the great scenes out of the windows.”
With the dining room removed, there was an opportunity to refurbish the galley with new appliances, twice as much refrigeration, and a satellite television receiver for the chef. On the bridge level, where the deck aft of the upper saloon is now set as the main alfresco dining area, the original private dinette outside the captain’s cabin was reconfigured as a service pantry with a food lift. The aft deck furniture is modular and can be arranged for entertaining, dining or movie watching after dark when a 102 – inch screen deploys from a built-in cabinet.
All the decks have been completely clad in teak (previously just the guest areas were teak) and there is a huge new sunpad forward capable of hosting the entire complement of guests.
The boat originally had a no V American electrical system but now most of the outlets are equipped with dual voltage receptacles. “Joe Lewis had updated much of the electronics but as long as we had so much of the boat opened up, we decided to try to future- proof it, ” says Genovese. “We pulled 17 sets of coaxial cable through the boat for Wi-Fi, entertainment electronics- and who knows what the next new thing is.”
I enjoy asking owners if they have encountered any real surprises with a refit. Genovese thinks for a moment, looks at Seger, and they both say: “The toilets”.
Genovese adds: “I really like these automated Kohler Numi toilets, they are just the best. I have them in all of my houses so I wanted them on my boat. The boat was plumbed for the original gravity- style Microphor sanitation, which is a low-pressure system.
Unfortunately the new toilets required an entirely new plumbing system, which led to a new Headhunter waste treatment system which is a good thing- and a bigger holding tank. I guess my advice to other owners is, before you buy the boat, like the toilets!”
BG Charade’s debut and entrance to the charter market was at the 2015 Fort Lauderdale International boat show. Her refit will no doubt add yet another example to the definition of “a timeless classic feadship”.