Vicem’s Vulcan 46M taps the builder’s signature traditional feel and packages it in a contemporary wrapper.
By Capt. Richard Thiel Photos Alberto Cocchi
Few decisions are more crucial in the process of building a yacht than the selection of the interior designer and exterior stylist. At its most basic, the process is about self-expression. Owners want a yacht whose appearance speaks volumes about who they are and what they value. A yacht’s exterior styling is closely tied to the choice of designer but, when it comes to the interior, client input has a much greater impact on what the final product looks like. The first hull of Vicem’s 151-foot (46-meter) trideck, the largest of its Vulcan series, explores some avenues an owner might take were he reaching for the look and feel of a traditional yacht wrapped in a contemporary composite package.
From conception, the Turkish yard charged Art-Line Interiors to create a décor that reflected a specific design sensibility centered on its heritage. Vicem is justifiably famous for its wood expertise, both in its cold-molded hulls and its superb interior joinery and varnish work. Although the hull of the Vulcan 46m is modern composite fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP), Vicem wanted her to look and feel like a traditional wooden boat inside.
And indeed, she does. Art-Line created an interior overhead that, while made of fiberglass, is V-grooved to look like traditional wood planking, and interior hull sides are curved top to bottom. This costs some space at the top and bottom, but the voids are put to good use housing piping and wiring. A generous 29-foot 9-inch (9.1-meter) beam provides a full measure of interior room.
Evocative of a traditional yacht, the 46’s interior comprises just one wood: Brazilian rosewood. The joinery is exceptional, even by Vicem’s standards. Entire walls are book-matched, and the semi-satin finish draws your eye to the deep grain without producing distracting glare. Art-Line has interspersed the wine-dark rosewood with expanses of white fiberglass and light fabrics, so that together with the yacht’s numerous large windows, the interior elicits a traditional yacht’s snug feel without the accompanying claustrophobia.
The yacht’s generous beam comes courtesy of Frank Mulder, who drew the hull and exterior. Perhaps best known for his fast large yachts, Mulder likes fine foresections that produce good seakeeping and efficiency, and he’s brought those values to the 46. Combined with her beaminess, the boat looks broad-shouldered and a bit intimidating. But despite Mulder’s familiar exterior design cues (especially the shape of the salon windows), this is no Octopussy or Moonraker. A semi-displacement hull combines with a pair of 3,650-horsepower MTU 16V 4000s to produce a top speed of 26.5 knots and a cruising speed of 20.
Perhaps more important will be her range, estimated to be 1,100 nautical miles at cruising speed, and 1,450 nautical miles at 12 knots. Credit that to a generous fuel capacity of 12,680 gallons housed in four integral fuel tanks, plus a 1,057-gallon day tank. Equally important is a modest weight that comes courtesy of modern construction techniques and materials. Unlike Vicem’s smaller boats, the 46 uses composites—mainly Corecell foam—that are vacuum-bagged for an optimum resin-to-glass ratio (43 percent resin to 57 percent glass). E-glass and carbon fiber are employed around the garage door and radar arch, while Kevlar adds strength in the rudder areas. Special high-temperature resin is combined with heat blanketing during curing to prevent print-through.
The result is a yacht that comes in at around 230 tons. (Note: This is weight and not displacement. See sidebar.) She’s no lightweight, but considering her luxurious interior and extensive equipment, she is svelte. A better indication of her cost-conscious construction is the fact that before her interior was installed, her basic structure weighed just 7.9 tons. All that luxury does add up.
And luxury there certainly is. The five guest cabins on the lower deck—a VIP, two queens and two doubles—are large and enjoy both water-level windows and ensuite facilities. But the main-deck master is something special. Accessed via a starboard hallway that opens first onto an office, its rosewood decking is mirrored in a rosewood overhead. The queen-size bed is at the after end of the main area and faces 180 degrees of windows. All the way forward is the head, arrayed in a semicircle as it often was on traditional yachts. A large whirlpool tub is aft, against the separating bulkhead, while all the way forward arrayed in an arc are the shower, dual vanities and a toilet. A section of stunning hammered copper prevents the visual intrusion of the exterior foredeck companionway.
Although both the salon and the upper deck offer large air-conditioned spaces for relaxing, there are enough exterior lounging areas for guests to find whatever degree of sun exposure they desire. The main-level aft deck is well shaded by the sun-deck overhang and is an excellent locale for alfresco dining. One level up, on the same level as the helm and captain’s stateroom, four aft chaises are just outside the shade of the sun deck, while the dining area forward of them is shaded. The sun deck naturally emphasizes open air on the after end, where there are four more sun beds and a hot tub, but there’s also shade in the area of the fully equipped wet bar and dining table. All three decks are connected by a circular stairway with a clear skylight at its top.
Taking note of this yacht’s sophistication, thoughtful design and apparently flawless execution, I had to remind myself that this is Vicem’s first megayacht. Certainly her success is due in part to the presence of Mulder and Art-Line, but credit also goes to project manager Bob Riemens. With a CV that includes names like Hinckley, Palmer Johnson and Little Harbor, Riemens was able to get the best effort out of a talented, but inexperienced (in this size range anyway) workforce and also pay fitting tribute to the importance of tradition in the project. And he did it all while hitting the man-hour target established four years prior.
So how did this spec yacht turn out? She sold last spring, and when her current owner first saw her—for all purposes completed—he described himself as “absolutely delighted” with her—inside and out. In fact, before taking delivery he made only one substantive change—to the entertainment system. That’s an outcome any spec yachtbuilder dreams of. But it’s also what happens when your vision is based on your heritage.
For more information: vicemyacht.com
Two kinds of tons
Project manager Bob Riemens says that throughout the 46-meter project, weight was always a consideration never far from his mind. Vicem has a heritage of building relatively lightweight boats using cold-molded construction, and the yard wanted its first megayacht to also be weight-conscious. The 46 has a light-ship (full interior and some fluids) weight displacement of 230 tons.
But weight displacement wasn’t the only consideration, so was gross tonnage (GT), which, despite the similarity of the terms, has nothing to do with weight. Weight, of course, is exactly what it sounds like, and determining what a big vessel like a megayacht weighs requires either actual scales under the wheels of a TraveLift, complex calculations or a combination of the two.
GT, to further complicate matters, is also expressed in tons. It is a measure of a vessel’s internal volume as measured from keel to stack and to the outside of the framing. As Riemens explains, GT is actually an index that is unrelated to any specific unit of measurement, such as pounds or tons, and is calculated mainly for purposes of determining what requirements—mainly those related to the size of the crew—a vessel must meet.
When a yacht exceeds 500 gross tons, it enters the realm of big-ship regulations, which dramatically adds to the cost of construction. For this vessel, the object of the designer and the yard was to come as close to 500 gross tons as possible. The actual target was 460, and the 46 ended up very close to that: 457 gross tons.
LOA: 151ft. 2in. (46.08m)
Beam: 29ft. 9in. (9.07m)
Draft: 7ft. 7in. (2.30m)
Engines: 2 x 3,650-hp MTU 16V 4000 M90
Speed (max.): about 26.5 knots
Speed (cruising): 20 knots
Range: 1,450 nm @ 12 knots
Fuel: 12,680 gal. (48,000L)
Freshwater: 1,980 gal. (7,500L)
Exterior styling: Mulder Design
Classification: RINA/MCA LY2
Naval architecture: Mulder Design
Interior design: Art-Line Interiors
Guests cabins: 6