54 — By George L. Petrie —
Though not yet a household name, Vicem builds a yacht you won’t soon forget.
The first time I saw a Vicem was more than a year ago, but that brief encounter made a lasting impression. I was on a trawler with friends making a leisurely trip along the coast of Rhode Island, heading for the Newport Boat Show, when off to the south we spotted one of the handsomest yachts I’d ever laid eyes upon. Like a distant apparition she appeared, a beautiful dark-blue hull gliding swiftly across the horizon. The four of us sat, mouths agape, guessing what kind of craft she was. Upon our arrival in Newport several hours hence, we were pleasantly surprised to see her again, docked just a few slips away from us. I immediately sauntered over to inquire as to her lineage and learned she was a Vicem 64, built in Turkey; she was even prettier close up. I knew then that I wanted to take one out for a spin.
That opportunity presented itself recently, when I tested the Vicem 54, Hull No. 1 of the Turkish yard’s latest offering. She was every bit as impressive as her larger sibling. Better yet, she was mine for the day, and as I was soon to discover, her craftsmen apply similar attention to detail in her construction and outfitting.
The day started early, casting off before dawn so our photographer could capture the Vicem’s image just as the sun rose over Huntington Bay, on the north shore of Long Island, New York. As we threaded our way out of the harbor, Michael Landsberg, president of Down East Yachts, filled me in on Vicem Shipyard. One of the premiere custom yacht yards in Turkey, Vicem has been building boats in the 50- to 80-foot range for many years, mainly for European customers. Over the past two to three years, Landsberg worked with the builder to establish a brand identity in the United States. Like all Vicems, the 54 is built using cold-molded mahogany; the hull is built up using four layers of thin mahogany planking laminated in WEST SystemTM epoxy. The exterior is covered with a layer of fiberglass to protect the wood and then finished with Awlgrip. Compared with fiberglass, cold-molded mahogany is stronger, lighter, and more resilient. And for icing on the cake, it also offers superior thermal and acoustic insulating properties.
All that’s great, but what’s really stunning about the Vicem is the lavish use of mahogany throughout the interior. The joinery and bulkheads are all mahogany; mostly solid stock with curved sections of molding built up from thin strips that are bended and laminated to shape. Only the largest flat panels are mahogany veneer. Even the interior decks are solid mahogany, bordered with an artfully crafted sapele pommelle inlay that lends visual interest. Use of a subdued, satin finish on the joinery and bulkheads keeps the dark mahogany from overwhelming the interior spaces, while a lighter tone on the soles adds an attractive contrast.
What distinguishes the Vicem, however, is not so much the use of mahogany per se as the superlative skill of the artisans who crafted the yacht. Consider, for example, the cabinet doors. There’re not just handcrafted in mahogany; each cabinet door is also louvered, assuring good air circulation as well as stunning visual appeal. And in the saloon I found an even more impressive display of craftsmanship: a pair of curved, louvered mahogany doors on a cabinet that also serves to conceal a pop-up 20-inch LCD TV. Other examples abound; a cocktail table in the saloon is adorned with a beautiful compass rose inlay of contrasting hardwoods, and all of the interior doors (mahogany, of course) are shaped with a gentle radius across the top.
This article originally appeared in the October 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.