Ronno Schouten can still remember the day he stepped aboard the 203-foot Feadship Lady Aviva. It was late 2002, and the badly burned yacht had been rescued from her Red Sea cruising grounds and returned to her birthplace in Holland. Launched in 1998, she was still just a baby, Schouten recalls thinking. He looked around the blackened engine room, where the flames had taken hold, then examined the heat damage that ran all the way up to the yacht's superstructure. The worst charring was limited to the engine room and top deck, but smoke and water damage were everywhere.
He shook his head not just in disbelief, but in sincere sadness.
"If it's an old boat, it's different," he recalls thinking at the time. "This was a new boat. It is terrible to see."
As the project manager for De Voogt Yacht Services, a division of the naval architecture firm that works exclusively for Feadship, Schouten had seen plenty of would-be refit projects before. That is, after all, his job: to fly all over the world helping owners refit their Feadships to retain the brand's high standards of quality.
But Lady Aviva, he recalls, set him back at first sight. "We didn't think it was a total loss because they put the fire out really fast, but you have so much smoke and water, we knew it would be a very big job to rebuild it all and to get it in good shape again."
In fact, the work Schouten would help to oversee during the next few years—transforming Lady Aviva into the recently launched 226-foot Attessa—would turn out to be not only the biggest refit project of his career, but also what he calls the biggest refit ever done on a Feadship, including the addition of an entirely new sundeck.
"The owner talks about a re-creation," he says, pausing for a moment to consider all that he and the boat have been through. "I think that's really true."
That owner, Dennis Washington, was the visionary and driving force behind the project. He is the chairman of Washington Group International, a worldwide engineering and construction company. He also owns Vancouver Shipyards, part of his Washington Marine Group. It was from there, at his shipyard in Canada, that Washington and project manager Capt. Ted McCumber worked with Schouten and designer Glade Johnson on a refit that was as close to a new build as you can get without starting from scratch.
The result is a brand-new-in-almost-every-way, fully up-to-date Feadship, built in cooperation with the team that turns out new Feadships in the Royal Van Lent and De Vries yards overseas. "Of course, if you buy new builds, you would have a different quality," Schouten says. "But this is very close."
Washington had worked with the De Voogt team before, about ten years ago, refitting the 1988, 142-foot Feadship Impromptu to include a helicopter pad and extended stern. He rechristened her as his first Attessa.
This article originally appeared in the February 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.