Solving the problem of adding pools in yachts

Unlike on the land, where creatives can create a suite of fountains to dance and sway on command, incorporating a even simple water features – such as a small fountain or a waterfall – aboard a yacht brings with it many challenges to consider.

Because a yacht is designed to move through water, the opportunity to easily defy the laws of physics is lost. ‘The moment you start rocking the boat,’ says designer Evan K. Marshall, ‘everything is thrown off.’

Problems with pools

Historically, the biggest consideration was how to manage water on the boat.

The movement of the boat itself creates a wave momentum in on-board pools that can become difficult to contain, even in the calmest of cruising conditions.

For this reason, the easiest solution was to use the pool only when the yacht was docked or at anchor, with all guests ordered out so that the pool could be emptied or drained to half capacity before the yacht got underway. While this remains a common practice, most pools are now also designed with deep surrounding sumps that capture wayward water and return it via a circulator pump and/or a holding tank that stores the warm water between uses.

Today the issue is not only about the ‘wow’ factor, but about incorporating the amenities an owner might enjoy on land into his yacht.

‘When a boat grows [in length], the owner wants a bigger pool,’ says Frank Laupman of Omega Architects. ‘The pool is never big enough, especially for swimmers. We would like to make a 10 metre pool, but most of the time you can only do one of seven to eight metres.’

The typical solution is to create an infinity pool with a swim-against current feature.

Location is critical – a large pool on an upper deck creates a weight issue that can interfere with the boat’s stability and centre of gravity. For this reason most pools are placed on a lower deck near the stern. However, here you must consider the shape of the hull. While an owner might request a depth of around five feet, a fast semi-displacement hull, for example, would mandate that the depth stay in the three to four foot range.

The bigger the pool, the more water it will require, which adds weight to the vessel, and thus becomes a factor for the engines.

‘We are careful with cutting-edge designs,’ says Laupman, whose firm is currently working on a 73m boat for which a large pool is an important feature.

He agrees that there are more considerations than meet the eye. ‘Most designers have to determine whether the pool should be located on the aft deck so that it is indoor/outdoor, or covered on the lower deck so guests can jump from the platform into the water. Then it becomes how to combine this design with saunas, gyms, seating areas, side hatches and whatever else might be required for the beach club.’

On the 73m project_ Omega, _the beach club floor was designed to be flush with the hatch that extends at the stern. The pool water is on the same level as the floor, which required some tricks with height due to the boat’s shallow draft.

‘You can only do this with a big boat, such as a Lürssen or CRN. Most of the time it is not possible; you need to climb three steps to reach the swim platform, which compromises the indoor/outdoor relationship. It’s not really state-of-the-art work,’ Laupman says, ‘but you must do your homework.’

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