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Barchetta is also the first Christensen to be outfitted with DeviceNet, a communication system that lets the yard monitor the boat’s engine-room and entertainment systems so that problems can be diagnosed and troubleshooting advice sent straight from the factory. The system is custom-tailored for Christensen launches, president Joe Foggia told me while standing in Barchetta’s engine room, making this 157 the first of what he says all future Christensens will be: “smart boats.”
“I think the biggest challenge was trying to keep it on the cutting edge without being on the brittle edge,” Barchetta’s owner adds. “That’s the part that breaks off. You want all the latest proven technology.”
And in some cases while the technology itself was proven, the owner wasn’t quite sold on its capabilities. An example is the Dynamic Positioning System, which utilizes sophisticated electronic controls to keep a boat at a specified position—even favorably aligned in relation to waves—without using anchors or mooring lines. Barchetta was engineered so this system could be easily added later, the owner explained.
He did, however, get onboard with a few cutting-edge toys to help management company Churchill Yacht Partners lure charter guests to Mexico and the Caribbean at a weekly base rate of $220,000 (Barchetta is the first Christensen 157 to become available for charter, taking 12 guests with nine crew). Most exciting in the yacht’s toy box is the SportSub personal submarine, for guests who want to explore deeper than the onboard Nitrox scuba system will let them go. Anyone who prefers to have their fun on the water’s surface can take advantage of the boat’s PWCs and kayaks, the WiFi accessibility that runs throughout the yacht, the individual satellite servers for each stateroom’s audio-visual systems, and the master Kaleidoscope entertainment system that holds 600 DVDs plus about 20,000 songs for guests to choose from.
The captain, too, has high-tech toys, including a mast-mounted night-vision system that he can use via remote control for improved visibility during nighttime passages and better oversight—and insurance coverage—on any large tenders Barchetta happens to tow.
Christensen also worked to satisfy the captain’s request for a few extra valves on the raw-water intake, so he can shut off the flow to each genset to perform maintenance while underway. In addition, the yard installed access points to the genset enclosures that will let Barchetta's engineer check fluid levels without having to remove the soundshields.
“We’ve got the new Wonkavator in here, too,” Foggia said with a laugh, though the look in his eye made me think he hadn’t entirely ruled out the prospect on a future 157.
Which is, in the end, what is so impressive about Barchetta: She is not just an elegant, interesting yacht, but also an example of what the Christensen semicustom program, working in tandem with a highly involved owner, is capable of achieving. Most yacht-spotters will talk about Barchetta’s interior decor because it’s the most visibly unique element onboard, but there are an awful lot of design and usage enhancements hidden away beneath those art deco details—the kinds of enhancements that most commonly are associated only with fully custom builds.
“That was the challenge: Keeping within budget but giving him what he wanted and on schedule,” said in-house project manager John Cochran.
“He was a stickler,” Foggia added. “He’s very budget-minded.”
“I’m a businessman first and a boat owner second,” the owner chimed in. “But if I ever build another boat, it will be a Christensen.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.