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Rough Road, Smooth Ride

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My notebook was almost full. Cannes does that. Not being in films, I hardly ever visit the town except at boat-show time, in September. In the last few years, the show has gotten bigger, more international, and more important than ever. Boatyards from all over Europe are increasingly seeing it as the crucial launch platform for new models. For a photojournalist like me, that means bouts of writer's cramp, alleviated only by episodes of shutter fatigue.


The Navetta shows off her shippy profile en route to Monaco.

So I was looking forward to my appointment with the new Custom Line Navetta 26. I mean really looking forward to it—not just because I've always rather liked the Navettas and regarded the announcement of each new one with pleasurable anticipation. No, I really wanted to get on this boat because it was my ride to Monaco—the next boat show, 25 nautical miles up the coast.

And what a ride. The Navettas are semidisplacement yachts. Standard engines for this 86-footer are MAN 900 V8s—not a lot of horsepower for 90-odd tons—but even with the optional 1,100-hp V-10 MANs the yacht has a maximum quoted speed of just 16 knots. Speed is not what they are about. What they are designed for is cruising in comfort. After a hard few days of scribbling and snapping at Cannes, I liked the sound of that.

The Navetta 26 is an eight- or ten-berth yacht, depending on which lower layout you choose. The owner's suite is always forward on the main deck, but there is an option of a grand and noticeably larger full-beam VIP below. With the "A" layout—as seen in this first boat, whose owner is none other than Ferretti Group boss Norberto Ferretti himself—there is also a double and a twin cabin just aft of the central lobby. Layout "B" has two doubles aft, two twins, and no big VIP.

The main deck, with much of its area taken up by the owner's bedroom, head, and dressing room, has a good-size galley secreted away on the starboard side, not visible to guests, and a comfortable saloon leading out into the cockpit.

The piece de resistance on all Navettas, though, is upstairs. Behind the helm, the upper saloon is the place to be when underway—in touch with the captain, a clear view all around, with aft-deck access and the galley just a curved staircase away. It's where everyone naturally gravitates.

On this trip between Cannes and Monaco, I was looking forward to relaxing for a couple of hours, and the upper saloon was where I planned to spend most of my time.

There was just one flaw with this plan—the weather. Although the sky remained as rich and blue and free of clouds as it had been all through the Cannes show, the wind had other ideas. Building overnight, by midmorning it was a solid Force 5 or 6 and still strengthening. And it was from the southwest, placing it on our starboard quarter as we cruised up the coast towards Monaco. For all my enthusiasm for the Navetta's interior comforts, I was under no illusions about how a shallow-draft, somewhat tall semidisplacement motoryacht would cope with quartering seas. My relaxing cruise was shaping up to be a rolling, corkscrewing test of endurance.

Are you ever wrong about anything? Not me. Ask my wife. But on this occasion, I have to admit that I might have been mistaken. The Navetta is fitted standard with a pair of Mistubishi antirolling gyros, buried down between the engines, and the wind and chop were such that these units had been working to steady the boat at her boat-show berth. As we pulled away, however, the captain switched them off. If any steadying was needed underway, it would be up to the Navetta's TRAC digital fin stabilizers.


  • Builder: Custom Line

This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.