|Top: Mr. Terrible. Above: The sky lounge aboard Mr. Terrible shows off the blend of Polynesian and art deco influences in the interior decor. Complex shapes of contrasting wood or polished stainless steel are applied to wood-clad columns, built-in furniture and overhead panels. (Photos courtesy of Delta Marine Industries)|
American yachtbuilding enjoys a rich tradition that encompasses a wide variety of designs and construction methods. What is often overlooked is that, although U.S. yachtbuilders face stiff competition in many vessel sizes, they lead the world in the construction of large composite motor yachts of 130 feet and up.
Among the handful of companies that specialize in this complex market segment, an undisputed leader in the building of custom boats is Seattle-based Delta Marine Industries.
The company’s latest launch, Mr. Terrible, bears a family resemblance to Gran Finale, an award-winning yacht launched in 2002. Although slightly longer, the semi-displacement hull was laid up in the same mold as Gran Finale, and the superstructure draws on Juan Carlos Espinosa’s contemporary styling from that project as well as Espinosa’s general arrangement.
For the décor, Delta Design Group’s Adriel Rollins worked closely with the owners to create an interior that blends Polynesian and art deco influences.
Delta has long been known for its range of displacement vessels, but Gran Finale broke new ground, achieving a cruising speed of nearly 20 knots. Mr. Terrible boasts equally impressive performance, derived from a pair of 3,650-BHp MTU 16V4000 engines that swing five-blade Michigan CX500 60-inch fixed-pitch props through ZF 7550 gears with a ratio of 3.07:1.
|The level of finish in the engine room is of a kind usually associated with show cars. The main engines were detailed by fairing and repainting some components and chrome-plating others. Manifolds were built of 316-grade stainless steel and all tubes and components, including valve bodies and handles, were mirror-polished. Even the bilges were faired.|
This package allows the boat to attain speeds in excess of 20 knots at a half-load displacement of 360 long tons. Equally impressive is the fact that at a reduced speed of 14 knots, Mr. Terrible has a range of 2,700 nautical miles.
As any mariner knows, the key factor that drives the construction of high-speed vessels is weight control. No matter the quality of the vessel’s lines nor the care given to the calculations from which the scantlings are derived, extra weight instantly translates into lower speeds and, potentially, to costly contract disputes.
Weight often has a way of pushing design limits, especially in yachtbuilding, where interior finish and outfitting are subjects of great concern to demanding owners. And, despite the oft-repeated — and somewhat misleading — mantra that “fiberglass is stronger than steel,” it is by no means a featherweight product, especially when laid up in solid (single-skin) form, the method Delta uses for its hull bottoms.
Jay Miner, Delta’s chief naval architect and the executive in charge of the Delta Design Group, has dealt with this aspect of yachtbuilding on many projects. “Weight,” noted Miner, “is one of the biggest issues. It does not go away, even up to the last day of construction, and it’s something that you ignore at your peril.”
The laminate schedule calls for hull sides and superstructure to employ a sandwich construction that includes Baltek vertical-grain balsa core material. Miner explained Delta’s approach to the overall problem: “We have always been conservative in engineering our structures, so initially, we probably introduce a little more weight into the primary components of the vessel than comparable builders might, so that makes the issue of the interior that much more important to track.
“We produce exhaustive studies and yet there’s always an opportunity for being surprised. We’ve developed some parametric approaches to estimating interior weights, but a lot of that is borne out of research where we’ve weighed typical components and generated targets on a per-square-foot basis for various accommodations. But that always has to be tempered with some knowledge of the specific finishes. Some clients favor more stone, some favor more wood, so that has to get rolled into the equation.
“We use carbon [fiber] for two purposes, but we find that we’re using it as much for stiffening long spans and flexibility issues as we are for controlling the weight. As in some other projects, significant benefit was taken from using it in some primary locations for overall support of deckhouse structure as well as for overhangs and long spans of interior overheads, because nobody likes stanchions; they like big, open spaces.”
Delta earned a reputation as a highly successful builder of commercial fishing vessels. It has delivered more than 800 boats, primarily for Alaska, notorious for its harsh conditions. One of the hallmarks of its yachts is the attention to detail that goes into the design and execution of systems, a holdover from its commercial vessels, where reliability and ease of maintenance are paramount. Added to this conservative approach are the extra layers of requirements that come with certification by classification societies and other regulatory bodies.
A tour through the engine room of Mr. Terrible is proof not only that the company has provided an impressive level of outfitting but that it has taken the finish to a level usually associated with show cars. For example, the boat’s main engines were detailed by fairing and repainting some components and chrome-plating others. Manifolds for fuel, bilge and other systems are in 316-grade stainless steel, and all tubes and components, including valve bodies and handles, were mirror-polished. Even the bilges were faired before getting several coats of white linear polyurethane.
Impressive as finely executed machinery spaces might be, it is interior outfitting that accounts for the greatest percentage of cost in yachtbuilding, and it is here that Mr. Terrible showcases the quality of joinery that has made Delta yachts famous. Mark Obernberger, Delta Design Group’s interior-design coordinator, noted that the client requested a Polynesian theme, and this drove the materials, finishes and details that adorn the yacht’s luxury spaces. Woods chosen for furniture and bulkheads are predominantly bubinga and wengé, with koa used to great effect in several areas throughout the boat.
In some places, the yard has used modern, more industrial materials, such as stainless steel and glass. The treatment of the stainless steel, applied to a polished surface with artistic strokes of a grinder, melds with the woodwork, adding forms that mimic sea grass beds.
Lighting fixtures also employ metal components that in places resemble palm fronds or celestial features. Slumped glass is used for room dividers, sinks and lighting fixtures, as well as for the skylight in the master suite, the design of which blends elements of a chambered nautilus and a comet.
Introduced into this eclectic mix are rich textiles, beautiful stones and other natural materials, such as reed. In some applications that hearken to the roots of the owner’s business, industrial components from the automotive industry have been employed.
What is most impressive about the execution of the interior is the almost overwhelming amount of detail. The flawless application of complex shapes of contrasting wood or polished stainless steel that are applied to wood-clad columns, built-in furniture pieces or overhead panels is stunning. Other complex mechanical features, such as vertically telescoping cranes, articulated staircases and hydraulically operated swim ladders add to the panache.