Royal Huisman – Pumula
Covering thousands of nautical miles in one year and travelling the world is impressive for a superyacht – but for this classically-styled Royal Huisman yacht, that will be par for the course
With a history dating back to 1884, Royal Huisman has delivered more than a fair share of yachts. The Dutch builder also has a reputation for building yachts that go on to globetrotting adventures. The 31.4-metre Whirlwind XII, delivered in 1986, became its first yacht to cruise around the world. Whirlwind XII has since gone on to do it a second time, putting more than 100,000 miles beneath her keel. In 2011, the 36-metre Royal Huisman motoryacht Arcadia transited the Northwest Passage, infamous for being one of the most inhospitable places on earth, given its location 500 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The list of intrepid cruisers goes on and on. Several years ago, Royal Huisman commissioned an illustration depicting the routes that its more adventurous yachts have undertaken, with each yacht represented by a different color. While it’s natural to see pretty much all of the lines intersect around the Mediterranean and Caribbean, a good number extend out across the Pacific Ocean and head up into Asian waters. A few venture even farther, to the Arctic. Royal Huisman will likely be updating that map, because the travels being undertaken by the 37.33-metre Pumula would certainly add some more colour to the already colourful field. In fact, since she was delivered in the spring of 2012, Pumula (pronounced poo-MOO-la) has hardly let the same waters lap her hull twice. By early 2013, she’d put more than 12,000 nautical miles beneath her keel. What’s more, she’d barely scratched the surface of a global itinerary that has long been the dream of the owners. Pumula was commissioned for them and their crew alike to take on the world.
Going the distance
While the owners had previously enjoyed travels aboard a sailing yacht, she was in the 24-metre range – a size certainly capable of long-range travel, but one typically placed aboard a transport ship. Their selection of Royal Huisman to build Pumula and Dykstra & Partners for naval architecture reflected their desire to have a yacht designed from day one to leave the transport ships behind. The cutter-rigged sloop, with a 53-metre mast, has a total upwind sail area of 781 square metres, hydraulic boom furling and captive winches for the main sheet and halyard, a carbon fibre rig, a fully ballasted retractable bulb keel, and other modern cruising conveniences like navigation electronics, to each side of the single wheel, that retract into flush compartments at the touch of a button. The retractable bulb keel is particularly key, extending to a depth of five metres for windward traction. Pumula gains quite an advantage with it raised, seeing its draught reduced to three metres, and that was put to good use last summer in the glacier-dotted waters of Norway and Spitsbergen, the latter of which was where Capt. Michael Van Bregt positioned Pumula right at the edge of the pack ice. Since glaciers’ depths can be either quite deep or shallow, due to climate changes affecting the ice’s dimensions, it’s a challenge, to say the least, for a fixed-keel yacht to cruise amongst them. The retractable keel also will serve Pumula well when she ventures later on to shallow-water regions such as Polynesian atolls, since some sailing yachts with fixed keels cannot venture into the lagoons – where the most beautiful spots lie. A retractable keel naturally impacts usable space inside a yacht, given the box needed to house it. It’s already tricky to ensure there’s a balance between that technical space and the accommodations space, but when you consider Pumula’s waterline length of 27.47 meters, it becomes even more of a challenge. Dykstra & Partners, Royal Huisman, and interior-design firm Rhoades Young Design collaborated in such a way as to ensure that no one who works or plays aboard Pumula feels cramped. The keel box is opposite the saloon seating area, adjacent to a television that rises when needed. The owners wanted what they call “a classically-inspired design that evoked the honest simplicity of the ‘gentleman’s sailing yacht’ of an earlier era,” and that’s exactly what you see when you step aboard. Refined yet homey, Pumula has white-painted oak paneling and overheads, with the brush strokes deliberately visible for more authenticity. Even the oak flooring has been stained and waxed to look aged and feel as if it’s been naturally smoothed over years of use. The extensive use of wood gives a relaxed ambiance, where you don’t feel that everything feels like it’s there to be used and not just looked at. Each of the two twin-bedded guest staterooms and the owner’s suite has leather nightstands fashioned after steamer trunks. One of the most unusual features is also arguably one of the best – the pewter-topped cocktail/breakfast bar in the lower saloon. Still shiny for now, it will gradually gain a natural dark patina and further suit the overall decor.
Pumula’s general arrangement flows quite well, but there’s a slightly unusual aspect to her layout. Unlike most superyachts, where the separation of crew and guest areas is sacrosanct, on Pumula the owners clearly want to connect with their crew. Guest and crew have their own dedicated accommodations of course, with the owner enjoying a master suite with stairs leading up to a private cockpit on the aft deck. The crew accommodations are forward, though a double cabin adjacent to the breakfast bar can be used either for crew or an extra guest. Throughout, there’s a rough, egalitarian feeling onboard Pumula, whose owners are as keen to explore and feel the breeze and the captain. But, Capt. van Bregt and his wife Charlotte, who’s the stewardess and chef (and a licensed captain as well), often talk with the owners in the relaxation areas. He does so while sitting at a navigation station that deploys from a table opposite of the dining area inside the main deckhouse. She does so while serving drinks and snacks across the cocktail/breakfast bar – a bar that’s part of the galley, and which has a sliding fireproof screen that rises at the press of a button. More often than not, though, Charlotte van Bregt prefers keeping the screen open, closing it when dishes or other potentially noisy work needs to be done. The owners even wanted Pumula to be the type of yacht where they could take the helm themselves. So far they’ve left the driving to their captain, who has been quite happy with her performance in a variety of conditions. During a brief press tour in Florida in the United States this past spring, Pumula achieved 14 to 15 knots with ease with winds at 17 to 18 knots. Just prior to that, when departing the British Virgin Islands, the seas were so calm that Capt. van Bregt declared “you could balance an egg on your head.” It was quite a different story, though, on Pumula’s first transatlantic crossing before the winter, where “hairy” conditions he’d rather not see again led her to reach an unusually high 19 knots. Royal Huisman indicates her hull speed is slightly higher than 12½ knots. Pumula, whose name means “rest” or “relaxation” in Zulu, has years of adventures ahead of her. In fact, when Capt. van Bregt was hired, he says the owners handed him a folder filled with clippings of places that they wanted to visit and was told, “Figure out itineraries for five to 10 years.” Clearly he’s figured out a favorable itinerary so far, as Pumula’s walls are dotted with framed photos of the sloop in a few destinations. Van Bregt says that they were so mesmerized by Spitsbergen that he declared at the time, “We have to stop taking pictures!” Somebody’s Facebook page will be getting a lot of likes, as yet another line on Royal Huisman’s map is traced out.
Technical Specifications – Pumula
Beam (max): 7.48m
Draught (min): 3m
Draught (max): 5m
Displacement (light ship): 120 tons
Hull speed: 12.74kts
Upwind sail area: 781m2
Naval architect: Dykstra Naval Architects
Interior Design: Rhoades Young Ltd