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Delta 163 Triton: No Limits

With multiple circumnavigations under the keel of their previously-owned yacht, a 98-foot Sparkman & Stephens cutter, a yachting couple approached Delta Marine a few years ago with a host of insights born of uncommonly extensive experience, and the desire to build the largest GRP yacht ever constructed in the United States.

With multiple circumnavigations under the keel of their previously-owned yacht, a 98-foot Sparkman & Stephens cutter, a yachting couple approached Delta Marine a few years ago with a host of insights born of uncommonly extensive experience, and the desire to build the largest GRP yacht ever constructed in the United States. They also brought detailed criteria reflecting a passion for diving, sportfishing and exploration on a global scale.

Story Gerald Stansfield

“This won’t be like anything you’ve built before,” the owners told Delta’s chief naval architect Jay Miner. And with fair warning to the rest of the Delta design team, they embarked on a two-year process to build a motoryacht that is at once elegant and exuberant.


Since the owners’ cruising plans included long distances into sometimes harsh climates, the yard was leaning toward construction in composite due to its strength, insulating properties and resistance to corrosion. Delta’s history, in fact, is dotted with the launch of many successful composite yachts and commercial fishing boats. “Composite hulls excel in tropical marine environments, especially in remote areas where access to haul-out facilities for regular maintenance is iffy at best,” Milner says. The main engines, a pair of Cat 3508Bs, develop 1,000 horsepower each at a sedate 1,600 turns, a pace that lengthens both service life and maintenance interval. “Above all, we designed Triton to go to sea,” he adds.

Function has a lot to do with Triton’s purposeful look. And if the knowledgeable admirer detects a resemblance to Affinity, a 151-foot Delta yacht launched in 1999, it’s no coincidence. Indeed, Triton’s owners drew many ideas for overall look and arrangement from this worthy predecessor, whose owners share a similar enthusiasm for adventure. High bulwarks forward, requisite to any ocean-going vessel, give way to a lower, elongated sheerline aft, terminating at a broad sportfishing cockpit. The swim platform, teak-clad like all other weather decks, features a flush hydraulic lift section that simplifies divers’ access to and from the water.

Intent on efficient handling and replenishment of SCUBA tanks, the owners conceived a tank storage area, accessible both from the swim platform and from a lazarette housing the yacht’s nitrox-membrane system dive compressor and additional tank racks.

The sport cockpit, configured to accommodate two fighting chairs and a large bait rigging station, leads forward and up via stairways on either side to the aft main deck. Here, the owners have specified an unusual arrangement of four support columns for the helicopter pad above, located well inboard to allow anglers free passage forward while working a fish, without having to relinquish control of fishing rods, which outboard stanchions would require. This detail preserves the integrity of a catch in accordance with IGFA mandates, and offers evidence that the owners have not ruled out the possibility of boating a record specimen or two during their travels.

That same deck arrangement has created a few challenges for the Delta design team, and in turn has led to equally innovative solutions. Conceived as a combination boat and entertainment deck, the aft-most part of the main deck appears straightforward enough, with a 24-foot-6-inch Willard diesel inboard RIB and an 18-foot outboard-powered Willard RIB chocked just abaft a covered lounge area off the salon. At first glance it’s easy to miss the Nautical Structures gantries neatly tucked underneath the overhead helipad. These extend outboard on pairs of sliding carbon fiber-reinforced beams, stronger than steel at a substantial weight savings, says Delta, to deploy the tenders port and starboard, then recede again to await the return of shore, diving and fishing parties. A third tender, a 14-foot Avon RIB, rests in a niche just forward of the helipad and is served by a Nautical Structures 3500-lb crane.


In the interest of allowing a quick departure to accommodate cruise schedule, tide or weather changes, the launch and retrieval hardware also includes a complex system of retractable booms, cables, winches and fairleads arrayed along either side, enabling the crew to recover shore boats while underway. Alternatively, a transom-mounted winch readily allows towing.

This arrangement, meeting as it does all of Triton’s tender requirements, also eliminates the need to secure a crew boat on the forward deck. “The foredeck can become an active place in a strong head sea,” says Miner. “The owners didn’t want any potential projectiles pitching around up there in heavy going.”

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Experience has led the owners to think in terms of the entire yacht, not just its individual design elements. The signal mast and crow’s nest structure above the flybridge deck, for example, have been located not just on its own terms, but far enough aft to allow a clear sight line from the topmost helm station to the cockpit, partly to facilitate backing down on those trophy marlin, of course, but also to enable the captain to keep tabs on the owners’ grandchildren, who have figured prominently in many other design decisions as well.

The deliberate practicality and function that characterize Triton’s exterior decks offer dramatic contrast to the decidedly genteel interior spaces. Well, perhaps not so dramatic after all, for the owners, in collaboration with Delta’s interior design team, have taken care to ease the visual transitions as the visitor moves between the two. The bridge deck lounge, for example, can be opened to the covered aft deck via sliding doors that disappear into side pockets to bring the outdoors in. For cooler climates, the covered exterior lounge can be enclosed with isinglass panels and lexan side doors to create a pleasant sun-porch environment. Here, coved panels in the overhead repeat and expand the overhead joinery of the interior lounge just forward. Intricate panels of sunset-weave mahogany isolate the bridge for night running, or recede to open a panoramic view forward.

Triton’s dominant interior theme is art déco, executed in a rich variety of light and dark woods, trimmed in stainless steel and accented with appropriately nautical fixtures like sconce lights fitted with fresnel-type glass, and traditional brass portholes adorning the elevator doors on the upper and bridge decks. Stainless steel kick plates in a characteristic tiered pattern carry the art déco look to interior doors.


While the main deck salon and dining area feature mid-to-deep tones of open fern-pattern khaya wainscot with chair rails and baseboards of Honduran mahogany and wenge, the bridge deck lounge is brightened by wall panels of quarter-figure anigre. Tiered stainless steel capitals top bookmatched khaya columns on all levels.

Furnishings throughout the yacht are understated and inviting, with earth tones in upholstery, carpet, wall coverings and overheads offering a welcome counterpoint to what surely will be days of vigorous activity.

The owners’ suite, forward on the main deck, positions the bedroom and master bath to port; Triton’s 31-foot molded beam leaves plenty of room for a starboard-side lounge with entertainment center. Just aft on the port side, a complete video-editing suite enables the owners to chronicle their adventures, assembling footage from bow- and stern-mounted underwater cameras in addition to mobile equipment available on board.

A raised, curved settee with informal dining table faces the commercial-grade galley, which also serves the 10-place dining room. A divider separating dining and saloon areas conceals a 50-inch plasma TV facing aft, flanked by built-in speaker towers finished in a distinctive fan motif to reinforce the art deco style.

Four staterooms on the lower deck accommodate up to 10 guests, two in a king-bed VIP suite and three each in a trio of suites that include a queen-size berth and a fold-down Pullman-style berth, yet another clue to the owners’ anticipation of children, grandchildren and other families as frequent guests. Crew quarters forward accommodate 10 in four double-bunk staterooms plus a captain’s double and crew lounge. While the normal crew complement might be fewer than 10, the extra staterooms allow Triton to bring onboard additional support staff, pilot, naturalist, guide or—again for the grandchildren—tutor or nanny.

Hull spaces below the crew accommodation house a large walk-in freezer and freezer-refrigerator combination to allow added provisioning for longer voyages. Even among yachts of similar size, the equipment list is a standout. Apart from its dive-support capabilities, tender-deployment system and underwater cameras, Triton boasts a Simrad bottom mapping system that interfaces with other navigation electronics to plot reefs, wrecks and other dive venues, a full complement of personal watercraft—for surface and submarine use—scooters and no fewer than six ocean kayaks nested beneath the crow’s nest helm station. A fully equipped gym occupies the port side aft of the engine room, and a Eurocopter EC 130 4B provides express service to and from shore. And lest anyone doubt the owners’ enthusiasm for diving, witness the Great White-rated shark cage offering close encounters of the most memorable kind. On the tamer side, a laser light unit adds a unique dimension to an evening’s entertainment.


The past is prologue; having already completed what many would consider to be a lifetime of adventure cruising, Triton’s owners have in their new yacht the means to extend their horizons yet further, realistically to include the most remote corners of the globe. Not for nothing does the yacht bear the name of the son of Poseidon.

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This article first appeared in the November 2004 issue of Yachts International.

LOA: 163ft.
LWL: 146ft. 11in.
Beam: 30ft. 11in. molded
Draft (full load): 9ft. 4in.
Construction: Composite
Displacement (full load): 500 LT
Gross tonnage: N/A
: 2 x CAT 3506B 1000Bhp @ 1600 rpm
Propellers: N/A
Fuel capacity: 19,500 gal.
Maximum speed: 16 knots
Cruising speed: 14 knots
Range: 6,100 nm @ 12 knots
2 x Northern Lights 99 kW
1 x Northern Lights 40 kW
Water capacity: 2,400 gal.
Stabilizers: Quantum QC 1800 Zero Speed Two Fin System
Class: ABS Maltese Cross A1 Yachting AMS
Naval architect: Delta Design Group
Exterior stylist: Delta Design Group
Interior design: Delta Design Group
Shipyard: Delta Marine
: 2004