Pure Beauty

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Ice classed and exuding elegance—Galileo G, the newest yacht in the Picchiotti-Vitruvius series—cruises near La Spezia in July. We enthusiastically accepted an invitation to hop aboard.

The 183-foot (55.7-meter) Picchiotti-Vitruvius Galileo G is the second yacht of the ­Vitruvius series. The first, the 164-foot Exuma, marked the much-noted entry of the Perini Navi Group into the motoryacht segment under the Picchiotti brand in 2010. This larger yacht shares Exuma’s lean and sleek silhouette, a trademark of sorts for the series created by Vitruvius Ltd. in collaboration with naval architect Philippe Briand and Perini Navi Group. A third model, an impressive 240-footer, condenses and emphasizes the whole series’ key stylistic features.

Briand sums up the Vitruvius concept: “My architectural work is based on the conviction and principle that efficiency is the reason for all forms of transportation, and I believe that aesthetics are the only raison d’être of a luxury superyacht. In addition, in the true Vitruvius spirit, these yachts have been designed to stand for quality, comfort, elegance and harmony,” he says.

Indeed, at first sight, Galileo G exemplifies the concept—she is form and function wrapped into one contemporary yet truly timeless yacht. When I first saw her sailing in the gulf of La Spezia near the Picchiotti shipyard, she exuded pure beauty. Her blue hull crowned by a low, white superstructure is outstandingly simple, and she seems born to sail.

Galileo G from paper to water

The contract for construction of the Picchiotti-Vitruvius 55m Ice Class, before she was Galileo G, was signed at the end of May 2008. Philippe Briand and Veerle Battiau, president of Vitruvius Ltd., led the project development team that inked all details over the next seven months. The yacht had to be ice-classed and environmentally friendly. Its design had to be innovative and reliable. The first metal was cut in December 2008 at Yildiz Gemi, the Perini Navi Group’s shipyard in Tuzla, Turkey. Ten months later, the steel hull with its aluminum superstructure was towed to La Spezia in Italy for outfitting at the Picchiotti yard.

One of her owners’ goals is to cruise the earth’s most extreme regions through the Northwest Passage. This required special accommodations. Galileo G was built in accordance with the American Bureau of Shipping’s guidelines for Ice Class 1B and the strict Finnish-Swedish Ice Class Rules. She also complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act (AWPPA) rules. To fulfill the so-called winterization criteria, all equipment is designed and engineered to operate at very low temperatures (below -22 °F). The hull was built with extra-thick steel plates, additional scantlings, girders and beams, plus an “ice belt” around the waterline able to withstand loads of up to 55 tons per 10 square feet (or 50 metric tons per square meter). Reinforcements are also used in all appendage rudders, nibral (nickel-bronze-aluminum) Detra propeller blades, propeller arms and stabilizers. The yacht has an extra-large bowthruster so as to be able to maneuver in rough sea and wind conditions. All external sea bays are heated to prevent ice buildup, and the yacht features two sea chests for seawater intake, according to ice-class regulations.

The navigation and communication system uses the Sea Tel 9797 antenna, which can pick up the kind of weak satellite signals prevalent above the 70-degree parallel. A longitudinal FarSounder sonar system with a telescopic retractable ice-detection device, able to detect obstacles as far as about one mile away, transmits 3-D images to a monitor in the pilothouse.

The Vitruvius 55m features the Briand Optimized Stretched Hull, designed for maximum hydrodynamic efficiency. Optimized volume and weight distribution means lower fuel consumption and therefore a more environmentally friendly long-range yacht. Galileo G is a true bluewater yacht with a very low center of gravity, which reduces rolling and pitching. During our sea trial in July, Briand leaned over the bow to admire Galileo G’s powerful stem smoothly plying the waves. She is efficient, indeed—so much so that it took us a while to ­realize we were underway, and then only after looking through the salon windows. The yacht’s excellent noise and vibration insulation and her hull’s extraordinary seakeeping ability allow a comfortable and silent navigation, even without stabilizers, as we experienced during the sea trial.

Exterior and interior design

Galileo G is a tri-deck with elegant hull lines and dark blue paint (by DuPont). Her special requirements for reliable communications in remote areas explain the imposing dome (almost 10 feet wide) that towers above the superstructure. It is unusual but doesn’t disrupt the overall design. Generous outdoor spaces are spread over the main and upper decks. No sun deck was included in the yacht’s layout, but on the upper deck, a Portuguese bridge leads to a huge foredeck above the owners’ stateroom—a perfect setting for an array of freestanding furniture. Part of the aft main deck is protected and can be fully enclosed. The bow area with its shiny windlasses and anchor winches is a step below, well protected by the high bulwark. As far as her interior is concerned, Galileo G’s owner prefers not to reveal it for now. Without saying too much, we can attest that the yacht is comfortable and tastefully decorated, with a predominance of dark veneers. Perini Navi’s in-house design department created the décor following the owner’s wishes and precise indications.

Cozy living/dining areas are on the main and upper decks. A formal dining room is located near a nice and informal breakfast room, served by the adjoining galley. The main deck also features a gym on the starboard side, which easily converts into an extra guest cabin. Moving forward, the full-beam owners’ apartment comprises a studio, a bedroom, and a large and well-lit dressing room on the port side, leading to the bathroom. On the lower deck, amidships, four roomy cabins are at family members’ or guests’ disposal. The large crew quarters (for up to 12) occupies more than one third of the lower deck.

One of the upper deck’s unusual features (the same that we already admired on Exuma) is the curved glass windows enveloping the whole deck, providing plenty of light in both the living room and the sophisticated wheelhouse, equipped with advanced navigation and monitoring systems, most of them by Sperry Marine.

Galileo G, equipped with twin Caterpillar 3512C (1,575 hp at 1,800 rpm), can reach a top speed of 16 knots, and at 11 knots has a stunning range of 9,000 nautical miles. Two tender garages with openings on the port side and astern host various toys and a 31-foot custom Zodiac Hurricane with reinforced aluminum hull for exploration. Another tender bay, forward, accommodates the rescue tender. This is a fascinating yacht and we could go on, but let’s allow the yacht and her images do the talking.

Picchiotti- Vitruvius

Galileo G

LOA: 182ft. 9in. (55.7m)

LWL: 178ft. 3in. (54.33m)

Beam: 34ft. 1in. (10.39m)

Draft (loaded): 10ft. 6in. (3.2m)

Construction: steel hull/ aluminum superstructure

Displacement: 753 tons

Tenders: 31ft. (9.5m) Hurricane Zodiac 20ft. 8in. (6.3m) Smuggler tender 13ft. 8in. (4.2m) rescue tender

Engines: 2 x CAT 3512C 1,573hp @1,800rpm

Generators: 2 x CAT 150kW + 1 x CAT 86kW

Speed (max.): 16 knots

Range @ 11 knots: 9,000nm

Stabilizer:  Quantum QC 2200 ZeroSpeed

Bowthruster: Naiad Dynamics 200kW

Propellers: Detra

Fuel capacity: 40,154 gal. (152,000L)

Freshwater capacity: 5,283 gal. (20,000L)

Watermakers: 2 x Idromar 3,170 gal. (12,000L)/day

Sewage system: DVZ BIOMATER

Gross tonnage: 725 tons

Classification: ABS Maltese Cross A1 Commercial Yachting Service - AMS + MCA LY2, ICE Class IB

Design: Vitruvius Ltd.

Naval architecture: Philippe Briand

Interior design: Perini Navi

Builder: Picchiotti Srl - Perini Navi Group

The Northwest Passage

Famous explorer John Cabot made the earliest recorded attempt to sail through a northwest passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific in 1497. Others soon followed, including Hernán Cortés, Sir Francis Drake, James Cook and many more. But it was Roald Amundsen who first succeeded in navigating the entire Northwest Passage sea-to-sea between 1903 and 1906. Until just a few years ago (2007), the Arctic’s ice prevented most ships from navigating through the area during the better part of the year. That is changing rapidly. Melting ice is making the waterways more navigable for longer periods of time throughout the year, and many countries are now opening shipping routes through the Arctic.