"This is the worst day of my life," bemoaned Charles Cohen’s 11-year-old son when it was time to leave Seasense after two weeks in the Mediterranean. His lament was music to Cohen’s ears, proof that his investment in the 220-foot (67-meter) yacht, which took four years to build at Benetti, had paid off.
When Cohen and his wife, Clo, began their custom project, the couple’s chief desire was to create a home on the water for private family time. They consider the water to be a soothing respite and wanted their yacht to reflect a true sense of the sea.
“I never heard the name Seasense anywhere before,” Cohen says. “What I like about it is it’s so simple. It is so right on the money as to what the experience should be.”
The yacht’s exterior designer, Cor D. Rover, of the Netherlands, echoes that sentiment.
“Life at sea, to me, is all about feeling this gentle breeze, smelling the fresh and salty scent of the ocean, all from your floating terrace,” Rover says. “I personally have never understood why so many yachts have enormous inside volume compared to limited outside deck space. Why would you leave your air-conditioned high-rise building where you spend most of your working days, and go to your yacht and sit inside again?”
Before signing the build contract, Cohen spent countless hours scouring boat shows and researching designers and builders. After inking the deal, the couple convened often with Rover and Benetti to ensure that their vision would be executed. They had a list of no-no’s: heavy, dark, varnished wood paneling; low ceilings; white carpeting; bland neutral colors; a formal inside dining room; a claustrophobic gym stuffed in a closet.
Check, check, check and check again. Seasense is a predominantly blue boat—royal blue, cobalt, periwinkle, cerulean, sapphire, azure—to reflect the sea and the sky.
“The shades of blue are like what you see on the horizon,” Cohen says. “The darker blues are on the lower levels and become lighter and lighter as one heads toward the sundeck … toward the clouds.”
Overhead heights are, at minimum, 8 feet (2.4 meters) and rise to 10 feet (3 meters) in the master stateroom. The silk carpets are various shades of blue. A dining table for 12 is on the main deck aft, and another alfresco dining area is on the upper deck aft. The gym has a prime location on the top deck with a panoramic view.
The yacht’s blue swimming pool is singularly striking. It is among the largest pools ever built on any yacht, measuring nearly 33 feet by 13 feet (10 meters by 4 meters), and is designed to be a family focal point. The Cohens’ four children range in age from 10 to 33, and the family is expanding with the addition of a grandson. The pool is duly versatile for the diverse family members—it converts into a basketball court with hoops and baskets.
“I finessed the original design layout of the pool by pulling it out from underneath the overhang to allow it to be fully in the sun,” Cohen says. “I also prevailed upon Benetti to lay the teak deck athwartships instead of fore and aft, to lend a feeling of more space.”
Cohen also specified that the teak planks be a bit wider than usual. And, in deference to weight concerns, he suggested angling the sides of the pool, which resulted in reduced water volume.
Design is the core element of Cohen’s real estate and property management company, Cohen Brothers Realty, which owns the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) in Dania Beach, Florida; the Decoration and Design (D&D) Building in New York City; the Decorative Center Houston in Texas; and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California.
Given his portfolio, one might imagine Cohen to be a stereotypical ego-driven owner/designer/architect/builder, but he is reticent to blow his own horn. Soft-spoken and a good listener, he is quick to credit others for the collaborative effort that made Seasense what she is.
The yacht is Rover’s first with Benetti. Several years ago, he was among the designers who answered the company’s call for a design to commemorate Benetti’s 140th anniversary. The builder embraced his ideas, and Rover developed a range from 164 feet to 295 feet (50 to 90 meters), all dedicated to life outside. The range became known as the Benetti Beach concept. For the Seasense project, Rover fine-tuned the main deck beach layout to suit the Cohens.
“We wanted a yacht both contemporary and timeless,” Cohen says. “We feel Seasense’s silhouette, with its plumb bow, is both classic and modern without being heavy or overdone.”
The Cohens made more than 10 trips to the Benetti shipyard in Livorno, Italy, to watch the Seasense project evolve. “Vincenzo Poerio is such a gentleman,” Cohen says of Benetti’s CEO. “He was extremely present and available during the course of the build. Whenever we raised issues such as the teak decking or the ceiling heights, Benetti responded in a very productive way.”
For Seasense’s interior, the Cohens contracted Area, a Los Angeles-based design firm they knew from their commercial and residential properties. Area had also consulted with the Cohens on their previous yacht, a 92-foot (28-meter) Riva Duchessa, but Seasense was the firm’s first foray into a custom yacht project. Cohen gave Area principals Walt Thomas and Henry Goldston a clear directive: “Make this yacht unique.”
“Charles did not want to replicate anything that he had ever done before,” Thomas says, “so our mission was to be original and not repeat anything.”
More than 100 fabrics, textiles and materials are aboard Seasense. “Charles and Clo made the whole effort more fun,” Goldston says.
Cohen says his art choices for the yacht are graphic-design-related and spatially oriented, each ideal for a specific space. For instance, the vertical lines of a Claudia Comte series of drawings mirror the vertical widows in Rover’s exterior styling; Studio Roso designed the mirror-polished stainless steel sculpture/chandelier above the master bed to fit the room’s high ceiling.
To match the Cohens’ lifestyle and penchant for cinema, the main-deck salon has a 98-inch flat-screen TV and media center. The onboard film library includes many restored classics.
Forward of the salon are the formal lobby with an elevator accessing four decks, and a marble staircase with a blue wooden structure and steel inserts. The yacht accommodates 12 guests with the master suite and VIP stateroom on the main deck, and four guest staterooms on the lower deck. Aft on the upper deck is a sky lounge with a circular inside/outside dining table, a bar and a built-in pizza oven. Crowning the top deck is a well-equipped gym with access to the outdoor forward-facing spa pool. Cohen is a self-proclaimed fitness nut.
Perhaps most remarkable about Seasense’s construction is that Cohen kept it a secret, including from his own children. “The big reveal,” he says, came last summer at Club 55 in St. Tropez, where he casually told his family, “Let’s take a boat ride out to the harbor.” The restaurant tender shuttled them to Seasense. Cohen invited his three sons to step aboard, and that was the start of their two-week summer cruise.
The Cohens’ middle son need not have lamented about the worst day of his life when he had to leave the yacht. Many more family cruises are planned for this winter in the Caribbean and next summer in the Mediterranean.
The owner's (other) passion
In addition to design and yachting, Charles Cohen’s other passion is restoring classic films and reviving indie films. His media company has produced and distributed more than 70 films. Additionally, the Cohen Film Collection includes the Rohauer Library, a compilation of more than 700 classic titles spanning 75 years. It includes the rights to the motion pictures of Buster Keaton and D.W. Griffith, among others, as well as the rights to the Merchant Ivory film titles. Recently, Cohen purchased the Quad Cinema in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood, La Pagode Cinema in Paris and the Larchmont Playhouse in Westchester County, New York, all with an eye toward promoting foreign-language and independent films. ‘The Salesman,’ a film distributed by Amazon Studios and Cohen Media Group, won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film.
The pool aboard Seasense has a depth that ranges from 2 feet (0.6 meters) to 3 feet, 11 inches (1.2 meters). It holds 7,132 gallons (27,000 liters) of water and is partially integrated into the hull structure, built of steel with a space for collecting water when the pool is empty, so as not to waste fresh water. Before starting construction, Benetti tested stability in various sea conditions by using a scale model at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands. The pool’s cover, turning the space into a basketball court, is constructed from 22 panels.
Materials and furnishings
All wood veneers aboard Seasense are aniline-dyed from Italy. They come in blue, silver-gray and red, plus pure white to tie the décor together. Woods used include eucalyptus, Tanganyika frisée, figured ash, sycamore burl, caleidolegno, pama and koto. Some of the marble, granite and quartzite stones are azul macaubus, bianco ondulare and Antarctica, with backlit pilasters of white quartz.
Furniture is sourced from designers Holly Hunt and Walter Knoll, and from the Thomas Lavin collection. Carpeting is by Tai Ping, and the staterooms have accents by Ralph Lauren Home and Missoni. Large, backdrop artworks in the sky lounge and master suite are by French photographer and artist Valérie Belin. Numerous other contemporary and modern artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Sol LeWitt are also represented aboard.
For more information: benettiyachts.it