OCEAN Magazine- Australia's Luxury marine magazine recently featured Seafaris, the 40m high speed catamaran that brings an international standard of luxury and finesse to the Australian charter market.
When I first met with Jeff McCloy at the Forgacs Shipyard in Newcastle to view progress on the construction of his 40-metre long, high-speed charter catamaran, Seafaris, he was a proud man. He exuded enthusiasm for every aspect of the massive aluminium structure,sometimes running his hands gently over the bare metal, then at other times, while explaining the more grandiose features of his dream, he would burst into absolute exuberance like a baton-wielding orchestra conductor in full flight.
Some months later, with the structure and machinery side of the project complete, an unpainted and very basic Seafaris was sailed north to Brisbane fit-out specialists, FMCA. They took on the task of putting the finishing touches to what was destined to become one of the world's more spectacular, five star charter yachts. The vessel would offer the magnificence, sumptuous comfort and facilities demanded by the most fastidious of charter clients.
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All the time Jeff McCloy was the maestro, acting as project manager so he could oversee every aspect of the program, ensuring the vision he held for Seafaris was maintained. For those working around him, that enthusiasm was infectious and their task made easier by the fact that they were dealing with an owner who knew what he wanted, held an intimate knowledge of boats, had thoroughly researched the project on a world scale. His background as a successful property developer in Newcastle also meant he knew how to get things done.
As the name suggests, Seafaris is destined for adventure, and its destinations will primarily be those relatively unspoiled regions of islands, reefs and tropical waters to the north of Cairns, where it will be based. The Kimberley and Sydney are also on the agenda. It is targeting the international superyacht charter market, in particular those who regularly cruise the Mediterranean and Caribbean and are now looking for something different, like a cruise in an unexplored region that is safe and relatively easy to reach. These people are seeking a flawless ‘soft’ adventure and the superior level of luxury as offered by Seafaris.
Since her launch, Seafaris was put through a test of some 10,000 nautical miles along Australia’s east coast in just a few months and met all expectations. And she is fit for royalty. Australia's favourite 'royal', HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, and her husband, HRH Crown Prince Frederik, were aboard for a weekend expedition from
Sydney Harbour to Pittwater in December.
The luxurious main saloon
The concept, detailed naval architecture, structural engineering and preliminary arrangement for Seafaris came from Brett Crowther, of Incat Crowther in Sydney, a company recognised as a world leader for large commercial vessels as well as luxury power and sailing craft. Crowther sees this vessel as being truly representative of what a large, twin-hulled superyacht can offer when it comes to premium cruising. It will be a trend, he believes, that will gather considerable momentum over the next decade.
McCloy’s experience echoes Crowther’s sentiments. His worldwide research prior to the build left no doubt that a catamaran is the answer. His theory is based on the fact that most major commercial tour operations use catamarans. He recognised these operators were 'hardnosed individuals who watch every dollar when it came to the building and maintenance costs, volume of the vessel, performance, economy of operation and stability.'
'It was a given,' said McCloy, 'after being aboard a couple of large catamarans and comparing them with a monohull it was obvious there was only one way to go. The benefits far outweigh those of a monohull. Volume was a big factor and this boat is the equivalent of a 55-metre monohull. Despite what many people think, it's a cheaper build than a mono when you think about it. In a mono you have to taper just about every cabin and everything is different because of the shape of the boat. With a catamaran you get one big open, flat floor plan to work with and simple floor and walls are far more cost effective.'
Fuel economy and performance are also in a catamaran’s favour. 'The horsepower required to drive 250 tonnes at speed is considerably less than that required in a monohull, and as a consequence, the fuel consumption is substantially less. Everything about this design made sense.'
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When it came to the finer details of the styling, both inside and out, Jeff McCloy took a well-calculated risk. For many years he worked with the Sydney-based group, Altis Architecture, on the design and décor of many of his hotel developments in Newcastle. He used Andrew O’Connell for the refinement of the exterior lines and Mia Ward for the interior styling and décor in a move that took an already impressive superyacht into a league alongside the world's best.
Because of the broad dimensions of a catamaran, the lines often appear awkward to the eye, but that is certainly not the case with Seafaris. When it comes to styling and flair, she excels. The joint input from both Incat Crowther and O’Connell see the external lines flowing smoothly from all angles. All features - the windows, the proportions of the superstructure, and the ancillary structures like the fibreglass bimini top - sweep into a voguish form that is very much in keeping with McCloy’s vision for maritime excellence.
'The interior fit-out has received rave reviews,' he says. 'We have taken every opportunity this design presents and used it to maximum advantage. I believe Seafaris has no parallel in superyachts.'
Seafaris certainly is different, and the best way to appreciate that is to be transported to the vessel aboard the 9.1 metre long tender, a diesel jet boat. Instead of coming alongside or to an aft landing, the tender is simply nosed onto a cradle that is part of a platform lowered between the hulls. From there it’s a case of, 'Ladies and gentlemen, please remain seated until the captain has brought the tender to a complete halt'.
Then, with the press of a button, the tender is lifted vertically on the hydraulically driven platform like a giant elevator, until it reaches deck level - and you step off! This is the moment that the true Seafaris experience unfolds. You realise you are entering an elite world of elegance and innovation when you look forward through the open double doors to an opulent world of a superbly rich timber. The jarrahlined interior and stunning accoutrements are spectacularly creative pieces of art in total harmony with nature and the sea.
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McCloy’s desire was to present Seafaris as a very private Great Barrier Reef experience. She carries just 10 guests. The reception area is also where the library and theatre are located. Forward of this is a curved timber passageway dividing the four luxury guest staterooms and leading to the master suite.
The design of the exceptionally large and well-appointed guest cabins assures comfort. The superbly large windows offer panoramic views of the outside world. There is a settee and writing desk, a large bathroom and an all-encompassing décor that simply says ‘relax’.
Because Seafaris does not have any side decks the master suite stretches across the entire beam of the boat. It is enormous and magnificently appointed. Consider warm wooden panelling, the most personal attention to detail, a plasma satellite television that rises out of a unit at the foot of the bed, and a bathroom lined with marble.
In this cabin, and throughout the entire vessel, gentle curves in walls and ancillary features create a very soft environment. The bridge deck is where the living begins. Again, massive windows b