West Bay SonShip’s Kataluma — By Diane M. Byrne
— May 2005
Keen on Kataluma
Part 2: The yacht’s name means “guest house” in Greek.
And choose the Domailles did when they first commissioned Kataluma, based both on their preferences as well as the guidance of a marine surveyor they hired. Traditionally, most West Bay owners opt for cherry paneling throughout, but the Domailles requested mahogany. They added port and starboard engine and thruster control stations on the aft deck for docking and requested that a stern thruster be installed in addition to the traditional bow thruster. “Since just the two of us would be managing the yacht, we were looking for ease-of-handling features,” Mike explains. Two inside steering stations were additional initial requirements: a pilothouse on the main level and “a command bridge with a bird’s-eye view” above that, he says. They also wanted impressive power, selecting 1,480-hp MTUs, for a 26-knot top end and 1,380-NM range at 11 knots.
When they decided to incorporate the design enhancements, which went well beyond crown molding in the saloon and other rooms, the fun really began. The Domailles worked closely with Tom Bakker, part of West Bay’s in-house design department, during the original construction, and “when we told him that we wanted to take the design to another level, he jumped onboard enthusiastically,” Nancy says. Bakker concurs: “They allowed me a lot of creative freedom, and I am very proud of the result.”
One area where the creativity flowed was the galley. Cafe-style pendant lights were originally evenly spaced between ceiling-mounted, small halogen lights to heighten Kataluma’s warm and welcoming atmosphere. (After all, the yacht’s name means “guest house” in Greek.) While the Domailles liked them, they felt the lights could use some jazzing up. So Bakker designed new stainless steel supports for them—but not the way you’d expect. Instead of replacing their pole bases, Bakker left the rods and added two curved bars. One extends from just outboard of the aft-most light to just ahead of the forward-most one, and the other intersects solely the middle light at a perpendicular angle to the fore-and-aft bar, adding another element of design. Additionally, Bakker designed mahogany-veneered mullion covers for the galley, with wenge and maple inlays.
That same mullion-cover design extends into the main-deck pilothouse, as do the metallic augmentations. The aft portion of the pilothouse is open to the galley—in fact, the backs of the set of upper cabinets in the galley face the helm area. When Kataluma was first launched, this facing was simply bookmatched mahogany. It’s now adorned with a three-panel artpiece, in which each panel is comprised of silver leaf, ebony, linen fabric, and stingray skin (dyed aquamarine). Much like a triptych, the design flows from the left panel through to the right one.
The Domailles would have been remiss to leave their own stateroom out of the enhancement project. The shower in their head features what’s perhaps the piece de resistance: a custom-designed, engraved “K” (for Kataluma, of course), in the center of the wall.
Of course, Kataluma isn’t all about cosmetic upgrades. The Domailles were attracted to West Bay in the first place because of its approach to construction. “Our initial intent was to buy an existing yacht, but when we found out that West Bay would build a boat that could include technical and design elements that were important to us, the decision to build was not a difficult one,” Mike explains. The yard employs vacuum-bagging or infusion sandwich construction methods for all major components. Hull and house sides consist of fiberglass knits, CoreCell foams, and isophthalic resin. End-grain balsa core adds rigidity to decks, and knitted laminates over urethane foam comprise the stringers. Specific to Kataluma are four watertight bulkheads, 13⁄8-inch CoreCell in the hull bottom, and one-inch Divinycell coring in the hull sides, all of which is vacuum-bonded.
Months after the enhancements were completed, Bakker still has fond memories of the process. “It has been, and still is, a real privilege for me to work with Mike and Nancy,” he professes. The admiration is mutual: “We couldn’t imagine doing this project without him,” both of the Domailles assert. Much like other owners, they were eager to open the doors of their yacht to friends and family when the enhancement project was complete, and they’ve since made friends with other West Bay owners as well.
Hmmm. Maybe the Domailles aren’t so unlike the rest of us after all.
West Bay SonShip ( (604) 946-6226. www.west-bay.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.