When I stepped from the aft deck into the main saloon of the new Palmer Johnson 123 Muse, my first instinct was to say “ciao.” That’s an unusual reaction to an American-built raised-pilothouse model, but Muse’s dark walnut sole, light sycamore accents, and sleek Nuvolari Lenard interior styling gave her such a European feel, it was as if I were standing inside an Italian-built yacht.
That’s just the sort of reaction Palmer Johnson president Mike Kelsey, Jr., is aiming to provoke with all of the motoryachts that leave his Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, shipyard these days. The majority of Palmer Johnson models now fall into the aluminum Sport Yacht category—there are three 150s, two 135s, and a 120 under construction, with a new 165 design to have her keel laid in June—but there’s one composite 123 raised pilothouse in there, too, a spec sistership to Muse and the lone model without the Sport Yacht designation.
“The 123, it still goes with the mantra the company has been using, which is to build and deliver highly styled yachts,” Kelsey says. “So while the 123 is definitely more traditional than its Sport Yacht cousins, it still shares a lot of the dramatic curves and pleasing lines that really go across the entire PJ scope of products now. It’s cosmopolitan inside. I don’t think its European influence is quite as strong as the Sport Yacht is, and that’s on purpose.”
Having explored Muse inside and out, I think the term cosmopolitan is an apt description. I toured Hull No. 2 of the 123 series with longtime captain Walter Wetmore, first mate Mike Regan, and charter specialist Tom Collins from Nigel Burgess (which manages Muse for charter at a base rate of $91,000 per week). All three of us agreed that this reported 24-knot motoryacht stands out in her size range because she is a grownup boat for people who prefer grownup fun.
For instance, Muse is built with not just a nearly full-beam master suite on the main deck, but also a full-beam VIP stateroom below decks along with two additional guest cabins with queen-size beds. That means four couples can cruise comfortably onboard Muse without anyone feeling like they’re in the twin-berth kiddie cabin.
Muse’s galley is arranged in the classic, closed-off style that separates the chef from the guests at all times, as opposed to the more modern country-kitchen layout that lets guests sit and dine just across from the chef’s preparation counter. The design onboard Muse allows for a more elegant level of service—you don’t see the sausage being made, so to speak—and thus adds to the yacht’s adult-oriented appeal.
The flying bridge, too, is thoughtfully designed for adult entertainment with its separate bar, dining, and hot tub areas. They connect just enough to let all the guests be social, but not so much that they will feel piled atop one another. “The sundeck, I think, is a real special area on that boat,” Kelsey says. “It’s huge, the shapes that are there—whether it’s the bar, the hot tub, where the sunning area is put—the way they were designed is really conducive to having fun.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.