A DAY IN THE SHIPYARD
Diane M. Byrne - Editor MegayachtNews.com
NEW JERSEY, 06 JUNE 2013
If you rank cruising up there with the likes of eating and breathing—and considering you’re reading this, surely you do—then you’ll appreciate a conversation I had with Vasco Buonpensiere while visiting the shipyard in January. We were discussing Cantiere delle Marche’s beginnings, specifically how the shipyard opened its doors in the midst of the world’s worst economic crisis. Interesting enough, while other builders were wondering where all the buyers had gone, CdM was finding ones as passionate as ever about travel. Vasco explained that the crisis was a wake-up call that yachting companies needed to change, because the market had changed.
Having started a business venture of my own in 2008, mere weeks before some of the biggest financial firms filed for bankruptcy, I felt I had found a kindred spirit. The more we talked, the more I found myself nodding in agreement with many things that Vasco had to say.
The statement that struck me the most was the following: “This is the only industry in the world where a buyer says, ‘I know things are going to break in the first year to year and a half.’” He added, “You don’t buy a Bentley and say, ‘I know I’m going to get stuck on the highway.’” The point: Some yacht owners have seemingly surrendered, accepting less than what they want. In contrast, CdM’s philosophy is that “good enough” simply isn’t good enough, especially where long-range, far-flung cruising is concerned.
For example, piping made from PVC is permitted by the classification societies, but CdM believes cupronickel, readily available and widely used on larger yachts and commercial ships, is better. The same holds true for independent rudders. Commercial ships use them for better maneuverability in certain conditions, after all. And while the classification society standard for steel plate thickness is 5mm, CdM believes 12mm is better. Overbuilt? Absolutely—and unapologetically.
Of course, don’t just take Vasco’s word for it—or even mine, for that matter. Consider what the crew of Percheron, a Darwin 86, had to say about how she held up last September when cruising between Sicily and Corsica. “Sailing in 60-knot winds, 3-meter waves...having come from a fiberglass-hulled boat, in these conditions we would be seeking the nearest anchorage for safety, but not in the Darwin 86.” Despite four hours of being bashed around, “nothing went wrong or got damaged,” the crew added. In fact, it was “exciting.” Imagine that!
As I walked around CdM’s shipyard with Vasco that day—one of the cleanest shipyards I’ve seen, too—I gained a better understanding of why Percheron’s crew had nothing but praise. I also thought about what the owners of the four yachts under construction would experience when delivery time came for them. While surely none would deliberately go out in search of bad weather, the reality is that adventurous souls have to be prepared. Some people like to say that they plan to outrun rough conditions; some shipyards will even tout how their yachts will let their customers do this. But, isn’t it better to know that your yacht is more than up to the challenge?
“I’ve always slept well about what we’re doing,” Vasco told me. “To tell you the truth, I’ve never been worried about it.”
Neither, obviously, have the clients.