Holland’s Giant — By Kim Kavin —
The Giant Experience
|You’d never guess it, but inside this 247-foot converted icebreaker, the feeling can be downright cozy.|
Giant, a black spaniel with white spots, darts up the stairwell and leaps onto the boat-deck companionway. The dog’s red-and-gold collar jingles as he races, nails tapping like Morse code as each paw hits the ivory marble.
The 20-pound fluff ball scampers aft and brims with excitement when he sees his Swiss owners, Rene and Brigitte Herzog, standing in the boat-deck saloon. Giant picks up speed, eyes wild with the chase, and skids—splat!—right into a mahogany-veneer wall.
Dazed, little Giant reorganizes his legs, accepts a consoling hug from Brigitte, and prances carefully across the room to the bar. He laps up a few sips from his water dish, then plops down with a grunt on the Argentinean cherry sole, content for the moment with several red-lipstick-clad stewardesses standing nearby, ready to tend to him.
Little Giant’s escapade is amusing, of course, but the fact that it took place aboard the 247-foot Giant speaks volumes about the kind of yacht she is. In converting this Dutch-built icebreaker into a luxurious private yacht, the Herzogs managed to create a fascinating dichotomy: an exterior that is jaw-dropping in size and strength, and an interior that feels like a cozy home.
Rene, a former racecar driver, says he got the idea while following the progress of the 170-foot converted tug Itasca as she cruised off Alaska. At the time Rene had built yachts as big as 140 feet (steel with aluminum superstructures), so he understood the cruising limitations some megayachts have. Still, he thought it unfortunate that in at least one environment—ice—Itasca needed assistance.
“I thought, ‘Why not convert an icebreaker?’” he recalls. “’Then you can do whatever you want.’”
And so the Giant project began. Rene found the Class I icebreaker in San Diego, then worked with interior designer John Misiag and naval architects at ME Consulting to move steel bulkheads and adapt them to the interior designs. He added a Dutch-built aluminum superstructure to the thick steel hull and refurbished the twin 3,400-hp Smith Bolnes engines—each of which towers two stories tall—along with the three 375-kW Smith Bolnes gensets.
The backup genset on this behemoth is a 200-kW Caterpillar, and her prop is about 13 feet wide. The sheer scope of the conversion helps explain why it took 26 months in Mexico and four more in Italy.
For the interior, Rene knew a boat as big as Giant could quickly become overwhelming in size (witness my tour, which took six hours over two days). His goal was to create grand but smartly scaled spaces that felt comfortable.
A good example is the pair of matching formal dining rooms, each off the main saloon with room for at least 12 guests apiece. “If you have a dining room for 26 people, and you’re only eight or ten, it’s not cozy,” he says. “It’s a banquet. It was okay in the time of Onassis: ‘I pay—everybody has to go and do what I want.’ I didn’t want to create that.
“I set it up in a way that even if you’re six or eight, you don’t feel lonely,” he adds. “It’s like a big house.”
Next page > Part 2: “For this boat to cross the Atlantic is like for another boat to go from Palma to Cannes.” > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.