Hargrave Custom Yachts can’t say no to a seasoned matriarch looking to create a yacht for generations to enjoy.
The Hargrave 94 Adventure Us II has been written up elsewhere as “Granny’s boat,” since the primary owner is a grandmother and that’s certainly unique in this male-dominated sport. But that story angle completely misses the essence of the yacht and Hargrave.
Simply put, Hargrave Custom Yachts is the number-one custom- yacht builder in the U.S. market. Every production yacht builder says they build custom, but they don’t. They’ll change little things, maybe move a bulkhead a bit, but that’s it. Every Hargrave grows from a blank sheet of paper. In the case of the 94, there is a suggested layout for clients to consider, but the finished product is entirely up to the client.
Which brings us to our grandmother. Adventure Us II is her boat, and she’s had several large yachts, the last being a Hargrave 82. When I say Adventure Us II is her yacht, I mean it not just in the sense of ownership, but in the sense of having created exactly the yacht she wanted. And Hargrave was more than happy to build it to meet her needs.
Says this grandmother’s husband, “We talked to a lot of other builders and nobody would move this or that. But Hargrave never said no to any of our ideas … every one was met with ‘Yes, we can do that.’” Along with granny’s ideas, her husband and son contributed ideas on the electronics side, while their long-time captain provided input on the various systems.
I’ve never met this grandmother, but I admire her from a distance. She wanted a gathering place for her family, a yacht where three generations could come together and create memories that would last a lifetime.
We live, sadly, in a world where kids are only occasionally at the dinner table. They’re too busy with sports, school, or whatever. Grab a snack, rush out. This owner wanted a yacht where everyone could sit at one table and have a civilized meal. This yacht is all about family.
And so Hargrave created a stretched skylounge to allow a dining table that will seat—wait for it—20 people! The whole fam-damn-ily on a 94-footer! And when it’s not a long table holding a holiday turkey, it breaks into smaller cocktail tables so three generations can enjoy movies or football games together. For New Year’s Eve, this skylounge hosted 30 people without crowding. Another smart touch on this family yacht is the dayhead in the skylounge and another in the saloon: Kids can’t wait, you know.
The owners wanted an outdoor “feel” to the skylounge so the décor was kept light and airy with white finishes, rather than the usual darker wood often found in skylounges meant to look like a gentleman’s club. In the saloon, a formal dining table hosts eight comfortably and, if alfresco is your choice, the table on the afterdeck seats ten.
Her previous Hargrave 82 had a soft bridge enclosure which was never unzipped, so she had Hargrave enclose and extend the skylounge to make room for that big dining table as well as a granite-topped bar with stools for six, also with a view of the television. The result is that, instead of a large boat deck, Adventure Us II has a spacious and airy “upstairs living room” that also adds to the sweep of her profile. But those are only a few of the very thoughtful changes that this grandmother asked for, and which Hargrave implemented.
Wanting privacy as well as ease of access without knee-challenging stairs, the master suite is on the main deck, filling the forward superstructure with an Art Deco theme from the inlaid anigre wood to the classic wall sconces. Though usually found only on much larger yachts, this on-deck suite provides a quiet getaway when needed, but it also makes clever use of space. One of the nightstands is a hidden door that reveals a walk-in closet for her husband (who calls it his “bat cave”) that draws space otherwise lost to an on-deck locker.
A palatial VIP suite is forward on the lower deck for the grown children, and it continues the geometric Art Deco inlays that interior designer Shelley DiCondina (owner of Yacht Interiors by Shelley in Ft. Lauderdale) used throughout the yacht.
But the most interesting change is the cabin just abaft the VIP off the central passage. This stateroom, in fun shades of rose, peach, and hot pink, is for three girls, and it has been extended to include a third berth that doubles as a daybed for kids to scrunch together to watch the large TV. A third lower guest stateroom is opposite, with a queen berth that converts to twins easily.
Considering the family orientation of Adventure Us II, the owners asked for an oversized laundry and Hargrave was able to create a laundry the size of those on far larger yachts just off the foyer. With sufficient stowage and counters for folding, it can easily handle everything from tubs of clothes and linens to beach towels.
The saloon has been designed for family gatherings with comfortable couches and freestanding chairs that become a media room for movies. For younger viewers, all televisions are complete with game controllers and there are extra outlets throughout the yacht for mobile devices. Certainly a visual highlight here is the walk-up bar inspired by a 1920s New York apartment, which Hargrave craftsmen created out of black walnut with gold-leaf embellishments and an ivory onyx top.
The captain of Adventure Us II has been with the family for years and contributed many ideas and insights to the design of the yacht, so it’s no surprise that the crew’s quarters for three are equally special. The berth for the captain, who is quite tall, was stretched to 7 feet so he’ll be with the family for years to come. Mike DiCondina, president of Hargrave, worked with the owners to use pocket doors in the crew’s quarters, another “can-do” example that gained room in their cabins.
But many of the ideas incorporated into Adventure Us II are harder to see. The family includes avid golfers and a golf stowage compartment is hidden in the hallway so the clubs don’t have to endure the heat if stowed in the engine room as on many yachts. A console in the lower foyer conceals a large linen closet, convenient to the laundry area as well for refreshing the cabins.
Although the master suite takes considerable room, the galley on the main deck hasn’t been compromised, and exudes a glamour of its own. The cabinetry is a sweet gum burl with inlaid Maitore banding, while the counters, including the center island, are Silestone. The location of the 94’s galley gives it immediate access to the saloon as well as the stairs to skylounge.
Another custom touch is the display of artwork from the owners’ collection, with walls and cabinet tops carefully designed to showcase and light specific pieces of artwork. The saloon, for example, was designed around a spectacular glass etching from the 1920s of an elegant Parisian woman that was placed and lit in the dining area. With tones of melon, lime, and coral, this served as the inspiration for the color palette throughout Adventure Us II. Guiding the interior design team was a binder of ideas the owners had compiled over a couple of years. This had notes and ideas on everything from cabinetry details to Art Deco wall fixtures to mosaic tiles and headboard designs. As interior designer Shelley DiCondina notes, “All the challenges requested by our clients make our job, as part of the Hargrave team, very rewarding. When we have clients that give us so much information because they are seasoned boaters, have fabulous art collections and design ideas, our role is more as ‘knowledgeable conductors’ than designers.”
Power for Adventure Us II is a pair of 1,600-horsepower Caterpillar ACERT diesels that give her a surprising top speed just shy of 23 knots, so granny’s yacht picks up her skirts and gets right along. With 3,200 gallons of fuel, she has a range of 1,200 miles at nearly 10 knots, making her economical for longer trips, and yet fast enough to get the family home in a hurry. An Onan 20-kiloatt generator in a sound shield is easily accessible in the engine room, and all systems are neatly plumbed and labeled.
One notable trademark of Hargrave Custom Yachts is the use of top-quality systems as standard equipment, including Naiad bow and stern thrusters and Naiad stabilizers, Cruisair air conditioning, Glendinning controls for shifters/thrusters at three stations plus one remote, full redundant hydraulics, 125-foot Cablemaster shore power, Kohler fixtures, world-class Bose and Samsung entertainment systems, and even an AB RIB tender. The equipment list for Adventure Us II runs for no less than 33 pages!
You can call this Granny’s boat, but it is really the result of melding the ideas of an experienced boat owner with Hargrave Custom Yachts, which doesn’t seem to have the word “no” in its vocabulary.
Whatever you call her, Adventure Us II is the very definition of a great family yacht.
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Warranty: 5-year limited hull, 1-year bow-to-stern, extended warranties available
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature 82°F; humidity 55%, seas: Small Craft Advisory, 3-4'
Load During Boat Test
full fuel, full water, 6 persons.
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 2/1,600-hp Caterpillar C32 ACERT diesels
- Price as Tested: $7,980,000
This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.