American Yachts and Shipbuilding’s Genesis — By
Diane M. Byrne —
|Part 2: At the end of the day, a profusion of genuine thanks flew from every direction.|
Nothing was needed in the saloon--and nothing about it emulated what I envision when I hear something is handicapped-accessible. The design and build teams recognized that the traditional placement of furniture to each side of the room or scattered across it would present obstacles. Therefore a large conversation area was created amidships, aft of a center island containing the pop-up 32-inch television. This permitted wider passageways to port and starboard and a setup that later allowed all of us to comfortably gather and discuss our day.
NAYS turned traditional space planning on its ear in the galley, too. It's huge, combining a large banquette area aft (much like the type in a country kitchen) and a large sit-at bar that lets guests watch the chef in action. During my first tour, NAYS's Tim Smith, who has owned a few yachts (and still owns a 118-footer), described how he envisioned a yacht owner inviting his or her favorite restaurant chef to come aboard and dazzle guests. During my second tour, Horgan's father cracked jokes about how his son should whip up some scrambled eggs for everyone, thanks to a lower counter behind the bar that was also positioned comfortably for someone standing. The aft banquette was also positioned to accommodate a wheelchair.
While it's become increasingly common for master staterooms to be located fully forward on the main deck and the captain's cabin located aft of the pilothouse, the reverse is true onboard Genesis. (In an interesting move, the chef gets his or her own cabin as well, next to the captain's cabin and galley.) The reason the master is up one deck? As Smith put it, "This is the best real estate on a boat!" A spiral staircase leads up here from starboard on the main deck, as does an elevator. Forget what you've seen or heard about elevators on other yachts--this elevator is anything but claustrophobic, accommodating about six adults or one person in a wheelchair and two adults.
By combining the master with a sky-lounge-size library, NAYS created a 2,000-square-foot private domain (literally--the owner can lock the doors). Just like on the main deck, furniture here is arranged to seamlessly minimize obstacles. A 42-inch flat-screen television hidden behind sliding panels, a fireplace (with an MCA-approved gas feed, although it is nonoperational), and a bar that yields views into the pilothouse via a window create an ideal getaway. Aft, what upon first glance appear to be artfully curved bulkhead panels are actually doors that yield access to the stateroom, quite an unusual feat. The aft-facing master bed benefits from a dramatic vista through floor-to-ceiling windows and over a balcony-like alfresco area containing a hot tub and deck chairs.
The master suite generated the most exchange of ideas between Horgan, de Basto, Hoogs, and Lottino. While the doorways to the separate his and her heads were each navigable via wheelchair, the MSD was in its own compartment with its own door in the port-side head. When Horgan asked simply, "Why is there a door here?" Hoogs acknowledged, "Maybe we got carried away with the privacy issue." The shower, a traditional all-glass design, posed a challenge as well, as Horgan pointed out that a caregiver would need to lend a hand. Hoogs and de Basto traded a few ideas before Hoogs realized an open shower design a friend of his had in his home might work: Despite the lack of a door, the shower apparently prevented water from splashing out. The team made a note to check it out for the next NAYS project, another 153-footer under construction.
Recognizing that the future owner of Genesis might be able-bodied and have a guest in a wheelchair, NAYS made all of the guest staterooms--two twins, a VIP, and an adjacent study that doubles as a stateroom thanks to a pull-out couch--accessible. With a subtle stroke of his pen, de Basto designed each entryway on a diagonal instead of the traditional right angle. The VIP stateroom features a particularly wheelchair-friendly head, with a tub that allows a person to shift himself or herself onto its ledge.
At the end of the day, a profusion of genuine thanks flew from every direction--from the NAYS team to Horgan for his insight and from Horgan to the team for addressing an often-overlooked need. The biggest thanks of all, however, came during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where the yacht sold to an owner in a wheelchair and where Hull No. 2 found an owner as well.
A few weeks before my tour, Horgan told me, "When we developed the Freedom Independence 20-foot sailboat in 1986, it was the first daysailer designed for the handicapped. It's not that we designed anything revolutionary. We just designed something practical."
Sounds just like the philosophy of the NAYS team.
North American Yachts & Shipbuilding Phone: (252) 638--6646. www.nays.cc.
Special thanks to Shake-a-Leg Miami Phone: (305) 858-5550. www.shakealegmiami.org.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.