Alfa — By Diane M. Byrne — August 2001
Alfa and Omega
|Part 2: Alfa continued|
While incorporating a second dining spot outdoors isn't unusual, the way it's handled aboard Alfa is. Located aft on the upper deck, this informal area, with a round table for 12, can remain completely open to let everyone enjoy the breezes and the view, or it can be transformed into a private closed area by activating an electrically operated curtain.
What if the owner and his guests yearn for a little nightlife after they've enjoyed their evening meal, regardless of where it was served, but don't want to venture ashore? This is where some terrific features of the sun deck come into play. The huge forward sunpad can be removed to transform the area into a high-rise dance floor of sorts, while a powerful Sony stereo system specially chosen by the owner pumps out the music. A movie screen measuring about 10'x7' drops down from the radar arch, and a projector is manually fixed to the arch to complete the entertaining atmosphere.
The crew--specifically, the engineer--get to appreciate another well-planned space onboard Alfa: the two-level engine room. A soundproofed and air-conditioned engineer's control room is on the upper level and houses the gensets, air-conditioning compressors, and watermakers. It overlooks the twin Caterpillar 3512Bs that push Alfa to a 16-knot top speed and a 15-knot cruising speed. (At 12 knots she sees a range of approximately 7,000 NM.) The voluminous nature of the yacht permits two more means of access to the engine room, one via a passage underneath the guest cabins and the other from the crew's quarters forward on the same deck.
Even though the space planning of the rest of the guest accommodations on the lower deck isn't unusual, it is so distinctly different than that of nearly every other megayacht's that it would be a lapse in judgment to not mention it. Guests get a hint of the surprise they're in for when they descend the stairs to the central lobby, as colorful silk-upholstered bulkheads within the rooms entice them to step inside. Deep gray and cream distinguish the two cabins with king-size beds, while cherry red and cornflower blue lighten the mood of the two cabins with twin beds.
With all these different takes on space planning, it's reassuring that Benetti has incorporated a few familiar things. Alfa showcases the same wide oval windows and sleek styling that characterize the yard's 50-meter series, since Stefano Natucci is the naval architect for both. There's a watertoy garage aft of the engine room, housing a Novurania and two PWCs, and the transom door folds down to become a large swim platform, measuring about 16 feet long. (An innovative rotating ladder to port lets guests disembark the tender with ease when it pulls alongside the platform.) The galley, a vision in stainless steel, easily services the entire yacht thanks to a dumbwaiter that connects to the pantry on the upper deck and further up to the sun deck. The full-beam owner's suite, incorporating a private office/sitting room (it can be separated from the bedroom via a sliding door) as well as separate his and her heads and dressing rooms, is forward on the main deck. And as is the custom aboard many European-owned yachts, the crew has a separate access to the owner's stateroom via a central bypass from the galley, guaranteeing his privacy when he's using the office/living area.
It was only a few years ago that the MCA Code governing the safety of large yachts was met with resistance from many people, from yard owners to captains, within the marine industry. But now that Benetti and other yards have launched a handful of yachts that meet the exacting requirements, the safety stipulations have become familiar and even expected. Alfa is no exception. Opening ports in the staterooms and their heads provide secondary means of egress. Cabin doors are fireproof and self-closing. Fire-resistant fabrics are used throughout, and stairwells can be quickly closed off with fire doors in an emergency.
Viareggio and Benetti have come a long way since the days of carpenters-turned-builders. Instead of wooden ships visiting ports along the Italian coast or making transoceanic trips for commercial purposes, luxury yachts now depart Italian shores for maiden pleasure cruises throughout the world. (Alfa's owners chose the Greek island of Corfu over the Easter holidays for theirs). But as Alfa shows, it's also comforting to know that some things still endure.
Benetti Phone: (39) 0584 38264. Fax: (39) 0584 396232. www.benettiyachts.it.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.