Antigua’s Falmouth Harbour Marina in early December was home to many sailboats, large motoryachts and Alfa Nero. Indeed with its distinct profile, this 269’ Oceanco is in a category all by itself. A very large aft platform with a pool overflowing into a beautiful cascade over the aft deck, devoid of the more traditional high transom seen on other larger yachts, and a dramatic black steel hull easily distinguished it from the surrounding vessels gathered in Antigua for an annual professional charter show. Alfa Nero, winner of a 2007 Yachts Trophy, as to be expected was the subject of many conversations overheard on the docks. Indeed, some even wondered aloud whether this should be considered a yacht at all.
Photos by Oceanco
The comments seemed to surprise Alfa Nero’s affable Captain Louis Rich, who took us on an extended tour of this spectacular vessel before he greeted charter agents on the Dutch-built vessel’s remarkable aft deck, one of the great features of a design created by Italian duo Nuvolari & Lenard for the owner and Oceanco. Alfa Nero had arrived in Antigua only a couple of days earlier after an eight-and-a-half-day crossing from Gibraltar to the West Indies. While navigation on a vessel this size with a full-displacement steel hull, a bulbous bow and stabilizers should not be much of an issue, even across the Atlantic, Capt. Rich was particularly happy with the way Alfa Nero performed in a following sea, which were the predominant conditions during the crossing. The yacht used less fuel than anticipated (528 gallons less a day) and exceeded the expected 20-knot maximum speed by half a knot. A second captain was on board for the crossing, and the seasoned veteran was equally impressed. “In his thirty years of experience, he never had a better crossing,” Capt. Rich said.
We spent quite a bit of time in Alfa Nero’s command center on the comfortable and elegant bridge deck. Airy and well equipped with the latest electronic equipment, the bridge includes a fully-enclosed office, two large chart tables, a leather banquette surrounding a large table, and a comfortable captain’s cabin decorated by Alberto Pinto, the Paris-based designer who created the yacht’s outstanding and tasteful interior décor. Seven large flat screens display information from an electronic chart plotter, depth finder, alarm monitoring system and GPS—everything the Captain might need—without any glare from the large flat windows that provide 200-degree views. In addition, numerous security TV images can be displayed on the same screens, and very little can escape the scrutiny of the onboard cameras, which record round-the-clock and can replay days later what has happened on or off the yacht. This attribute came in handy for law enforcement officials in Gibraltar, as Alfa Nero’s cameras helped identify suspects in a break-in at the marina there. The yacht is also equipped with the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which allows identifying other AIS-equipped vessels within radio range, including name, registration number, time to closest point of approach and size. The nearby RM Elegance, licensed and equipped to accommodate 30 guests, was one the yachts identified on the screen, and the system revealed it to be about 32’ shorter than Alfa Nero, something that came as a bit of a surprise. Alfa Nero accommodates 12 guests, and its graceful design makes it appear much less massive than its 269’ length and a 46’7” beam might make it. This alone makes it a yacht.
Despite the outstanding visibility the bridge provides, Alfa Nero, as most large yachts do, has two wing stations from which the skipper can operate engines, rudders, thrusters and cameras for docking and close-quarters maneuvering. The dynamic positioning system also can be engaged from here to keep the yacht stationary without deploying the 1,653-pound Wortelboer anchors.
The full-time crew includes three engineers who watch over the yacht’s twin 16-cylinder MTU engines and three generators. Alfa Nero’s onboard monitoring system helps keep track of all functions and sends any alarm message directly to the engineers’ phones. Various screens give information about shore power, bilges, valves, water tanks and the system of fuel tanks. Engineers positioned the tanks ideally to ease diesel delivery to the engines and to optimize the yacht’s trim.
It took 27 months for Oceanco’s Ablasserdam shipyard to build the yacht, known during construction as project Y-702. The level of detail onboard says there have been no shortcuts. Doors, for example, slide open quietly and effortlessly, just like you would expect them to on a futuristic spaceship. On the way to the gym, located on the after part of the skylounge deck, LED-illuminated banisters guided us along the corridors. When we reached the glass-enclosed gym, the full effect of the yacht’s design became obvious. Unobstructed views of beautiful Falmouth Harbor poured into the room through the floor-to-ceiling curved glass panels. In an earlier conversation Dan Lenard, part of the Italian design team, said the design sought to cancel the divide between the yacht and the sea (for a full interview of Nuvolari & Lenard see Yachts International magazine’s January issue). This objective has been masterfully achieved, as full panoramic views envelop the workout area. Guests can exercise in air-conditioned comfort while enjoying the scenery or with a flowing sea breeze when the glass doors are open. To complete the experience, a great stereo system sets the mood. At the moment Buddha Bar is the music selected on the yacht’s entertainment system and its Asian-influenced rhythms come from well-concealed speakers. A shower, day head, massage table and beauty salon complete the 540 square-foot wellness area.
We took the service stairs down to the main deck, bypassing the owners’ deck to respect their evidently cherished privacy. Crew can easily move through the entire yacht without entering guest areas except as required. Guests may prefer to use the glass-enclosed elevator that serves all decks. We entered the full-beam main salon and lounge areas. Here, the spectacular décor blends contrasted woods treated with a high-gloss finish, light fabrics on furniture and walls and freestanding pieces of stylish furniture. A shiny black and white baby grand piano, one of only eight ever made, is among the many outstanding objects that draws attention in the comfortable, modern and quietly luxurious area. The large space (between the two, the salon and lounge occupy nearly 1080 sq. feet) fully opens onto the aft deck where an overhang provides shade and shelter for a comfortable outdoor salon and dining area. Further aft a bar can be either shaded or left in full sun, and elegant freestanding lounge chairs encircle the already much-talked about 23’ x 11’ pool, filled with either fresh, salt water or a mix of the two, which converts within minutes to a helipad as a platform raises and the water escapes below. Project Manager Jeroen Mulder described this feature: “When required, the main-deck pool morphs into a helipad. Attention was given to the design of the heli-platform under the weight of a helicopter. By moving the platform up and down using spindles instead of levers or hydraulic cylinders, there is less chance of the platform accidentally lowering due to the weight.” Capt. Rich who has witnessed helicopter landings said preparing the deck for the helicopter is a matter of perhaps twenty minutes, the longest part not raising the platform from the pool bottom but clearing the deck furniture.
We moved back inside, walking through the lounge, the indoor salon, the guest foyer with a starboard side entrance, past the formal indoor dining area, and continued forward to four guest staterooms. Along the way we noted yet more outstanding details, including the mother of pearl inlay in the foyer’s floor, two fire engine-red cabinets in a shiny lacquer finish, works by American artist Roy Lichtenstein and beautiful fabrics and linen with a coral motif in the guest rooms, including one of the yacht’s two VIPs, located completely forward on the main deck. There was much more to see, and Capt. Rich obligingly led us to the lower deck where the second VIP is located. This is not a lesser VIP due to its position closer to the waterline; in fact it benefits from privacy and a full terrace (that of course doubles as a water-level entry) formed when the starboard side door opens.
The crew area includes quarters that are not only efficient but attractive with an officers’ and a crew mess. The huge professional galley is organized around a central island, where two chefs prepared colorful appetizers for the welcome cocktail taking place just above. With what must be an 18’ overhead clearance, the engine room is as clean and organized as you would expect a hospital operating room to be. A split-level design provides engineers with access below and above the massive main engines that have a total output of 3492 kW each. MTU describes their 16V 595 TE70s diesel engines as particularly well suited to fast vessels with high load factors such as fast ferries, yachts, corvettes and frigates. The three 332 kW generators that provide the ship’s electrical power are housed in two well-insulated rooms. When we opened the doors, their hard-working nature became obvious as noise and heat quickly enveloped us. But once shut, the thick doors provide effective insulation, helping to keep temperatures down in the main engine room. Engineers can supervise the whole operation from a fully air-conditioned and insulated office overlooking the machinery.
The lower-level deck is a service deck and comprises six storage rooms, half of which are refrigerated while the other three are large walk-in freezers. From the looks of the well-stocked shelves, the chefs won’t have to worry too much about provisioning in distant ports of call. The vessel’s operational manuals bound in black binders occupy a floor-to-bottom shelf near the stair landing. The large garage, with a convincing artificial teak sole chosen for its practical aspect, has two side openings and a wide opening aft. It easily accommodates the custom limo tender and the two Jet Skis currently stowed inside. There is room for more, and the yacht actually has two additional tenders, secured alongside during the charter show, a 26’ semi rigid and a dedicated ski boat. The massive hydraulic pistons that operate the garage side doors, offer further evidence that no detail was overlooked in this impressive yacht, happy to go to sea and with design features that make her truly distinguishable. This newest born from builder Oceanco, which designer Dan Lenard describes as a fantastic partner, not afraid to try anything, presages more great things to come.
For more information, visit oceancoyacht.com
Gross tonnage: 2159 tons
Net tonnage: 647 tons
Total fuel capacity: 77,667 Gal.
Total water capacity: 32,176 Gal.
Engines: 2 x MTU 16V 595 TE70
Total maximum output: 4680 hp each
Propellers: 2 x 5-bladed Wärtsilä outturning propellers
Maximum speed: 20 knots
Cruising speed: 14 knots
Hull construction: steel
Generators: 3 x MTU8V 2000M540A @ 332 kW
Maximum crew capacity: 30
Standard guest capacity: 12
Classification: ✠100A1 SSC, Yacht (P) Mono, G6 ✠LMC, UMS/ MCA
Stabilizers: Rolls Royce
Radar and chartplotter: Nacos
26’ Yachtwerft Meyer custom limo tender
20’ Ski Nautique
Exterior design and styling: Nuvolari & Lenard
Interior Design: Alberto Pinto, Nuvolari & Lenard
Naval architecture: Oceanco / Azure