News

Published: Thursday, 22 August 2013
Mike Fulton

Built for a repeat Moonen client, Sofia is a very customised yacht and a cross between an exploration vessel and a modern pleasure superyacht. She is built to Lloyds and MCA certification and uses the latest building techniques and state-of-the-art equipment and systems. She is the largest yacht built by Moonen to date.

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Designed by René van der Velden with naval architecture by Stolk Marimex, Sofia’s interior layout and styling was a joint cooperation between Frank Pieterse and Marylin Bos de Vaal. The overall result is a very beautiful and functional boat, which belies its 42 metres.

The owner ordered his first Moonen 84 in 2004 and commissioned a new Moonen 97 to his own specifications in 2008. He still owns an X-612 MKII sailing yacht.

The most distinctive feature of this vessel is its three-seater submersible. The owner who is a keen diver wanted a way for his family and friends, who are not all keen divers, to also share his passion. Originally, the plan was for a two-seater but 10 months into the build, he realised that to best appreciate this sport he would need a pilot and so a C-Quester 3 from U-Boat Worx was ordered. The upgrade required some major structural changes to the boat. The beach platform at the stern was extended by four feet and a heavier duty crane was installed for launch and recovery. An extra fuel tank was installed forward to counteract the weight of the submersible and the crane. Sofia is the smallest yacht to carry such a submarine.

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She also features Quantum zero speed stabilisers, a stern thruster and a military-grade satellite communications system. Thermal cameras were installed atop the mast to help with shallow water cruising and nocturnal navigation. She has a full Kaleidoscope video server with multi-room control (including lighting, blinds and climate control) using an i-Pad.

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Being basically an explorer vessel, the pilothouse is positioned relatively far forward and this allows for the incorporation of the full-beam master suite and a large open sky lounge.  There is a unified colour scheme throughout combining traditional oak and Zabrano veneers with off-white and camel-coloured materials. All cabinets have a high degree of complex horizontal joinery.

The main theme was to portray an open-plan feeling. The stairway, here unusually on the port side, covers the three decks and helps exude roominess. The four guest cabins on the lower deck are arranged in such a way that they can be instantly entered – it all looks very simple and symmetrical.

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In the atrium is a large piece of Concetto from Caeser Stone in Israel. This large piece emphasises the height of the yacht. The atrium connects to the open main deck lounge and dining areas. The absence of any sliding doors or partitions has quite a striking effect. There is a real perception of width and length throughout this entire lounge and dining area and the giant windows reinforce this feeling. There is a bar forward on the port side. The backs of the lounge sofas move on rails and so guests can roll the sofa around, from an inward facing position to watching the outside vistas, with ease.

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Forward on the main deck is a galley that was developed in partnership with the boat’s chef so is practical and easy to use and very easy to clean. There is a widespread use of stainless steel here. The galley and crew areas are connected for good logistical arrangement and optimised service levels. It also helps enhance the crew’s working life.

Further forward is a gym on the starboard side, which can be sectioned off with normally hidden walls and with its fold-down bed can be converted into an extra cabin if needed. To port there is pantry, a small bar and a day head.

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The sundeck is dedicated to cooking, seating and a giant Jacuzzi. Jet-skis and a seven-metre Novurania tender are also stored on deck as the owner considers using the lazarette for stowage to be a waste of prime space. There are two cranes for launch and recovery, one on the flybridge and the other aft on the bridge deck. When the owner is aboard the tender is often towed behind Sofia so as to free up room on the sundeck.

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As expected the four guest cabins are on the lower deck and the owner's suite is on the main deck. All cabins have similar styling based on a unified colour scheme, leather bedspreads and curtains. The beds are made from wicker cane. The master suite uses even more luxurious leathers and the bed is set off to port allowing for more seating and entertaining area on the starboard side of the cabin. The owner’s bathroom is very much an extension of the main suite with matching colours, materials, detailing and even atmosphere.

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On the lower deck there are two double guest cabins aft and two twins forward. The twins can be converted to doubles if required.

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Exceptional detail was paid to reduction of vibration and dampening of sound. During sea trials she achieved Class 1 status within the regulations of Lloyds Register for Passenger and Crew Accommodation Comfort. Sound reduction was between 5 and 10db below then minimum certification requirements. Vibration reductions came in even better with a minimal certification level set at 1.8 and Sofia came in at just 0.4.

Perhaps the biggest compliment came from her captain, Ian Westman, who said: “I have run yachts from yards at the very highest echelons of the superyacht industry and am convinced that Sofia is on a par with the very best. Like all custom yachts, Sofia is a prototype but this is not noticeable as she performs incredibly well in every aspect.”

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