Building just three or four yachts each year, Moonen Shipyards exemplifies the best of the Dutch yacht-building ethic. It's one of a diminishing number of builders producing fully custom yachts under 100 feet, and it's worth noting that managing director Emile Bilterijst is a naval architect and thus intimately familiar with the engineering details of each yacht. Having a yard run by someone with a technical background should ensure that engineering details get appropriate priority in design decisions.
As to the 97, one critically important issue in cruising-yacht design is the minimization of noise and vibration, which is often achieved by the addition of heavy sound-absorbing insulation. But Moonen goes a step further by attempting to eliminate vibration at its source. For example, in designing its 84-footer, the yard specified a highly skewed propeller with about 50 percent more clearance between the blade tip and the hull surface. Now standard practice at Moonen, this approach significantly reduces the amount of vibration induced in the hull and is far more effective than just layering on insulating material.
In addition, all structural and rotating components of the drivetrain are engineered and tested to verify that their natural frequencies of vibration will not be excited by propeller blade or shaft rotating frequencies, thereby minimizing resultant vibrations that could be induced in the hull structure. Further contributing to quieter operation (and additionally, longer engine life), the 97 uses commercially rated engines that develop full power at a modest 1800 rpm; hence her cruise speed and top speed are the same, 13 knots. For extended cruising, she has a range of about 3,500 nautical miles at 9 knots.
With a steel hull and aluminum superstructure, the Moonen 97 is an adaptation of the Moonen 96 Clementine, launched in the spring of 2005. But in place of the latter's raised pilothouse and sundeck, the 97 offers a large flying bridge with a whirlpool bath and a lower, sleeker, more seductive profile. Below decks, she builds on the layout of the 84-footer, but with her extra length affording much more spacious accommodations for the owner and guests. Her full-beam master stateroom boasts en suite facilities and a walk-in closet of unusually generous proportions, while forward she offers a VIP stateroom and two guest staterooms, each with private facilities.
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This article originally appeared in the August 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.