Rested on Their Laurel
Though not a new launch, this 240-foot Delta still looks the part.
They launch with a splash. After years of planning and construction, the christening of a megayacht can explode through yachting publications not unlike the explosion of champagne across the bow. The owners extend the passerelle leading to their new vessel and welcome journalists into their escape.
But sometimes even owners of history-making yachts prefer to keep their hideaway hidden away. And it was not that Delta’s 240-foot Laurel went unnoticed when she first launched in 2006. At the time, she was the largest yacht to have been built in the United States since the 1930s and she debuted at No. 7 on PMY’s list of America’s Largest Yachts and No. 46 on PMY’s World’s 100 Largest Yachts.
Though she’s since been unseated as the largest U.S. build by Cakewalk, her steel hull and composite superstructure remain unique. Washington State-based Delta Marine specializes in composite mega-
yachts and crafted this superstructure mainly to save weight. When combined with a durable steel hull, Laurel became the long-distance cruising yacht her owners had envisioned.
Over the ensuing five years, Laurel has covered more than 115,000 NM and collected nearly as many stories from her travels. And although she no longer has that new-yacht smell, careful maintenance combined with her linear and ageless design mean she doesn’t look a bit older than the day she launched.
Laurel was moored stern-to at last year’s Fort Lauderdale boat show, and I was able to to dash aboard during a brief lapse in the rain that plagued the event. After climbing the protected stairs from the swim platform to the main deck, Capt. David Clarke, who would be my tour guide, pointed to some overhead panels. Located here and over the bridge deck’s aft dining table, these nondescript white squares cover heating panels that allowed the owners to get extra use of the yacht’s exterior spaces during cruises in Maine, Alaska, and Patagonia.
From the main saloon throughout the accommodations deck, Laurel features an interior that doesn’t lack for luxury yet won’t compete with any landscapes. The luxury here is like a bespoke suit: It doesn’t require labels to prove its quality. Comfortable tan seats in the main saloon look welcoming, and a table in the discrete formal dining area a few steps away required one craftsman two years to build.
While standing in the dining room beneath fiber-optic constellations, the captain opened cupboards and drawers. “Things can only be found in two places,” he said, “where it’s stored and where it’s being used.” A soft-spoken and detail-oriented man, he clearly loves this boat. He spoke of the drawers of carefully stacked napkin rings with the same pride as the day head’s alchemy sink, which means they are lined with 18-karat gold.
Compared with other 240-foot yachts, the master suite is farther aft. Clarke explained that the location provides a more comfortable ride, eliminates noise from deck operations such as the raising of the anchor, and provides more room for the crew. Doors to starboard and port lead to sheltered side-deck seating areas. Private and featuring more of those overhead heating panels, the balcony is also accessible from an aft door so that the crew can work unseen.
And that’s not just in the owner’s cabin. Throughout the guest spaces, crew have access from multiple points. On the accommodations deck, the four en suite VIP cabins—which feature identical queen beds and are identified by the wood ornamentation on their doors—are accessible via either end of the passageway.
Forward there are two flexible-use rooms, both featuring Pullman berths and en suite baths. To starboard is first a wicker-lined cabin with two twin beds for children or staff, and beyond that, a cabin that can convert into a massage room.
The main spiral staircase from the cabins to the bridge deck wrap around a custom glass scene depicting the ocean from its floor to the surface: The seaweed gives way to fish and then turtles, and finally dolphins, which play in the sunlight shining through the skylights.
On the bridge deck nothing is as it appears. The leather-walled library, with its rich oil paintings, is also a soundproof cinema where the art hides the TV screens. In the skylounge a painting of a cow balances another retractable one depicting wheat, which covers the TV, and the coffee table stores the games and remotes.
The captain next led me to the rain-soaked sundeck, which features an aft-facing Jacuzzi flanked by an outdoor shower and a multi-tier fresh herb garden for the chef. The large open space we stood on had again been designed for multiple uses: sunbathing, rescue-tender stowage, and a touch-and-go helipad that can accommodate a 6,000-pound chopper. A spigot at the base of the shower helped explain how Laurel’s dark blue Awlgrip hull paint has maintained its sheen since her launch: Increased water-heater capacity allows both cold and hot water to be available for the exterior washdown.
Actually “sundeck” might be a misnomer for this space as there are plenty of interior spaces too, including a guest gym and an observation room that is raised six inches so guests can see over the bulwarks. Just outside though a second helm pops up for when “the owner wants to put on a show,” the captain said.
The main helm is a deck below and fitted out to Clarke’s preferences, a perk of being the build captain. The two-stage setup has plenty of space for navigation planning and supports a leaning post that can convert into a seat. To ensure both security and service, there are 32 cameras onboard, allowing the interior crew to provide “service from afar,” as the captain described it, and zoom in enough to tell if a guest needs a wineglass refilled without interrupting conversation.
From the foredeck, we entered into the crew space. The lower-deck galley serves the large mess via a dumbwaiter, and built-in chafing dishes keep food warm (and stowed in rough seas). Port-side stairs leading down to the tank deck stop at a waterline exterior door for taking on supplies or taking off trash, which has its own dedicated room on the lower deck. Even after five years and at least 115,000 miles, there was no odor.
In addition to that dedicated garbage-sorting room (with space to separate the types of recyclables and a glass crusher), the tank deck also has the requisite liquor room, galley, walk-in refrigerators, freezers, and a spacious and well-organized laundry room. In the forepeak, the crew gym has space for each crewmember to get a locker, a rare amenity.
And the crew luxuries don’t go unnoticed. Many of the crew of 25—from the captain and chief engineer to the steward in charge of laundry—have spent years onboard. Three engineers watch over the spacious engine room, which is just forward of the tender garage, which has a starboard-side launch hatch. Not only is there enough room for two to walk abreast between the engines but there are also standalone workbenches and tool chests, which contain some of the $700,000 worth of spare parts that are organized as carefully as the dining room’s napkin rings.
From the pristine guest spaces to the immaculate engine room, Laurel might be older and wiser than her recently launched counterparts, but you certainly couldn’t tell by looking at her.
This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.