Azimut 58 Flying BridgeBy Capt. Grant Rafter
Italy has hundreds of little museums, most with something worth looking at behind their engraved doors. Sometimes the art is inspiring, sometimes just surprising, but usually adding up to something fine and enjoyable. Moreover, it helps you understand what style and craftsmanship are supposed to be about.
You could say the same thing about Azimut's 58 Flying Bridge, specifically the interior design of Carlo Galeazzi and the exterior design and overall concept of Stefano Righini. Her artful interior is appointed with grain-matched, raised-panel pickled oak walls and furnishings. Since the panels all look the same, it's difficult to tell a faade from the front of a drawer. Not that this is a bad thing; anyone who's been on the boat a while will know the difference, and for me it made every compartment I opened a bit of a treat, as if I were walking through an advent calendar.
For instance, along the outside of the galley's bar are hidden drawers in which to store the cutlery and porcelain dinnerware that come with the yacht. Each drawer, in classic nautical style, has a piece of mortised white oak to precisely accommodate each piece. The panels in the lounge area aft of the galley hide accessories such as the remotes for both the stereo and the fixed LCD TV (not yet installed on my test boat). At the lower helm station, another cut of white oak appears to be merely a small writing surface; but hinges along the upper face told me otherwise. I set my fingers under the lip and lifted it to reveal a brushed-aluminum breaker panel. Even the head in the master suite has an unassuming cabinet behind the porcelain bowl whose large volume—313⁄8"x231⁄4"x11"—makes it perfect for a clothes hamper. But wood is not the only material used to cover and hide items aboard. A slight push on the fabric walls above the steps that lead down to the staterooms pops open a latch and reveals the Hoover washing machine.
When I followed the steps around their 90-degree bend to a small landing area at their base, I came to more steps leading down and aft toward the master. Four others took me forward toward a higher landing and the three guest staterooms. Knowing there had to be space underneath the stairs, I searched for a way to lift them; but I found none. Rolling up the carpet on both the lower and upper platforms again revealed nothing. I mused for a second, and then inspired, I headed to the VIP, where I discovered the access beneath the carpet. When I lifted the scuttle and stuck my shoulders into the cavity, I found a fuel tank occupying the space directly under the stairs and an 8-kW bow thruster in the front of the compartment. Since carpeting runs through every part of the interior, with the exception of the galley and heads, servicing some areas might take a little longer than it would with a solid sole. It's a small price to pay for comfy feet.
The VIP held more unexpected features. Part of the overhead slides back to reveal the 22-inch Nemo hatch, and long windows on either side hold 151⁄2"x91⁄4" opening ports that offer the possibility of cross-ventilation. (Both these and the 10"x131⁄4" ports on either side in the master are certified by Registro Italiano Navale—RINA for short.) The head to port and the guest cabin with twins to starboard have dead lights; the guest cabin's are circular and 12 inches in diameter, so not as much natural light enters. Yet, halogen lighting set inside a square three-inch stainless steel frame does a fine job at illuminating the space.
I found another noteworthy feature hidden in plain sight in the VIP. Each leg of the V-berth is fastened only at the top, so their bases can move. You can lift and pull them alongside each other like the blades of a scissors to form a centerline queen berth. The friction from the carpet holds the berths together; and although laying on a seam isn't as comfortable as sleeping on a single mattress, guests will no doubt appreciate the flexibility.
About the only place where everything is set out in plain view is the engine room. Access is via a hatch in the cockpit floor. A ladder leads into the compartment, with the twin 880-hp MANs forward. Because headroom is only 5'2", you have to hunch over, and there's not much room on the outboard sides of the MANs. Access to everything else is a breeze. The Racors for each main are aft on the respective outboard hull side, as are twin 3.5-gallon FE-200 foam fire-suppression units. A 20-kW Kohler genset lies transversely, abutting the aft bulkhead. Chillers are to port, while three batteries, all in boxes, are stacked to starboard. Placement of all this equipment against the sides of the engine room leaves a large area in the middle for you to move around freely as well as to enter and exit with supplies.
But there was one hidden feature aboard the 58 that really took me by surprise. Our test boat was equipped with optional crew quarters that occupy what would normally be the lazarette, all the way aft. I doubt many American owners will opt for it, since most drive their own boats anyway, but also since headroom in the cabin area is less than six feet, and in the head it's just 5'3", meaning your crewmember will have to shower sitting down. Furthermore the only entrance is through a hatch under the aft-deck settee—there's no transom entrance. Even if this area is kept as a giant lazarette, a transom door would be handy to access this full-beam compartment.
After spending a few hours uncovering the hidden features on the 58, I was itching to get behind her wheel to see what she would reveal on the water. It's not everyday you get to cruise a luxury yacht like this on the Ligurian Sea. We pulled out of the industrial port of Savona and into the Mediterranean's three- to five-footers, the twin Raymarine E120s showing plenty of depth and no obstructions. Turning east, I needed only a hint of starboard rudder to counteract the swells. The wheel felt heavy, but that's not a bad thing; I could take my hands off it, and the 58 tracked straight along at 25 knots, the swells barely detectable. Slowing to 1800 rpm, I made a series of three-boat-length loops generating only modest heel. With just six turns lock to lock, the boat handled responsively and predictably.
Heading back inside the protection of the harbor, I decide to test the optional Azimut joystick controls. Starting from a dead stop, I spun the wheel on the top of the joystick—just like an IPS control—to engage the bow and stern thrusters. I then pushed the joystick forward, which added propellers to the equation. The boat spun easily in her own length. When I manipulated the joystick to walk her sideways, I found the setup a bit less responsive than some of the azipod systems I have used. Yet it undeniably offers great control for a boat of this size.
When it came to docking this $2-million beauty, I gave the Azimut company captain the helm and worked my way back to the aft deck. A large concrete retaining wall made maneuvering difficult, but the captain tweaked the joystick and slipped the boat into the rows of other Azimuts. I couldn't help but notice that every boat bears the signature styling of the builder: the large windows in the side of the hull, circular windows that spin open, a pronounced radar arch, and a sleek, swept-back look. Beyond the unity of the external visages, I could see an individuality in the internal designs. Even as my test boat blended into the fleet, her hidden features stuck fast in my mind, as I believe they will for anyone who's fortunate enough to see them.
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There's a lot of great leatherwork onboard the 58, from the upholstery on the settee to the detailing in the master. But one of the most comfortable pieces onboard is the helm chair.
Treben, an Italian manufacturer, named this model Master, and it's easy to see why. It comes with features that you'd expect to find, such as push buttons to adjust your seat position. But Treben builds its chairs to the specifications of the boatbuilder: Style, type of foam, and leather are just a few of the options. It also supplies builders with prototypes for testing and fit.—G.R.
This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.