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Credit: Damen Yachting

Moonstone: Inside the Amels 200 destined for the North Pole

7 October 2022 • Written by Kate Lardy

When an Amels 200 is bought by creative owners with ambitions to head to the North Pole, you end up with a showpiece superyacht that can sail just about anywhere. BOAT catches up with the owners of Moonstone...

Mere months before Moonstone was delivered, she was destined to be a different boat. The 60 metre Amels 200, which was started on speculation, was designed by Laura Pomponi of Luxury Projects to have a neutral interior that would be appealing to a wide range of potential clients. It was to be timeless and versatile, able to be easily adapted to reflect the vision of her would-be owner. 

Then the yacht was sold and the interior morphed to align with the new owners’ taste, which led to the addition of unique sculptures and paintings, bespoke rugs and cabinetry and splashes of bold colour. The combination of the original sophisticated, architectural framework and the owners’ creative input has created a stunning showpiece interior.

Credit: Damen Yachting

“We were looking for a larger boat with more luxury interior space,” say the owners. “We decided that we would use a Northern European builder and selected the Amels 200 because we liked its Tim Heywood design and interior by Laura Pomponi.” This was February 2021, and they also appreciated that the yacht was quite far along in the build and that they could have it by the summer.

No strangers to yachting, the owners had spent the last decade cruising on ever-larger yachts, starting with a 26.9 metre Pershing 88 and ending with a 47 metre Delta before the Amels.  Along the way, they also acquired a support vessel by Damen Yachting – also the builder of Amels superyachts – to carry their toys. “We are very active – fishing, diving, wake surfing, etc,” they say.

Tim Heywood’s exterior design attracted Moonstone’s owners to the project
Credit: Damen Yachting

The Amels 200 platform gave them the space they needed for their growing family. The model, part of the builder’s Limited Editions line of semi-custom yachts designed by Tim Heywood, is an evolution of the previous Amels 188. “It’s one of the few 60 metres on the market that has a lift from the lower deck’s four guest cabins all the way up to the sundeck,” says Jorrit Pilaar, sales manager at Damen Yachting. Other highlights include a very generous main deck owners’ suite with a balcony and six cabins, including a VIP on the bridge deck.

Starting a build on spec is the norm for the Dutch shipyard. It’s a gutsy business model, but one that has panned out. “We have never finished a boat without a client,” says Pilaar. In this case, Moonstone, its second Amels 200 hull, was sold less than five months before she set sail for Greece. In those months, the owners worked closely with Pomponi on the interior and exterior aesthetics.

The Renaissance-inspired artwork of Andrea Chisesi adorns the interior walls of the sundeck, which features a spa pool. Interior designer Laura Pomponi customised the bar with an additional counter to serve those in the pool
Credit: Laura Pomponi

The builder chose the Italian design studio in what Pilaar describes as a “beauty contest” of proposals from various firms. Pomponi won the job – her first collaboration with Damen Yachting – with her timeless, elegant, yet cosy design, created by simple architectural lines, contrasting materials and a carefully considered lighting plan.

Her idea for an interior design that could appeal to a variety of potential clients was to use the walls, ceiling and lighting design to form the basis of the project. She’d keep structural furniture to a minimum, allowing an owner to incorporate free-standing pieces at any point in the build. “I come from the Italian school of design where we are used to designing yachting series,” says Pomponi.  “So, this boat has been [conceived] even to change some panelling at a later stage.”

All the rugs, like this one in the main saloon, were conceived by Luxury Projects to match the owners’ colour scheme and custom made by Oliver Treutlein
Credit: Jed Kenny

Pomponi prioritised functionality, selecting simple yet sophisticated surface materials that didn’t require time-intensive cleaning or polishing. “For me, form follows function,” she says. “Eighty per cent of my team had experience in the shipyard before becoming designers, so they understand all too well the crew’s concerns. Allowing the crew to work properly adds to the success of the boat.”

In the main and bridge deck saloons, Pomponi employed a light grey veneer of engineered wood, contrasted with a darker grey laminate, accent walls of travertine, warm Italian oak floors and, for  an innovative touch, shiny liquid metal for the window surrounds. The ceilings are focal points with recessed tiered domes that conceal LED indirect lighting and air conditioning outlets within a margin of just a few centimetres. “We really maximised the height of the ceiling and tried to open it up as much as possible,” Pomponi says. “Hiding the air conditioning outlets and inlets and the light source was one of the biggest challenges.”

The lighting over the marble-topped dining table depicts floating leaves made of Murano glass pieces. On either side of the table, against the travertine walls, are custom rosewood cabinets with bronze accents
Credit: Jed Kenny

She approached the light design holistically and from the very beginning of the project.  “We studied how to enhance the colours and finishes of all materials by (shining) the correct lighting on them,” she says, looking for ways to enhance the interior’s cosy feel. “We moved away from the use of spotlights except for some places where direct lighting is necessary and desired, for example to enhance works of art in specific places; otherwise only indirect lighting is used.” For artwork illumination she used cut-off spotlights tucked inside tiny overhead recesses. “They are the latest in the market,” she says. “They are completely hidden in the ceiling.”

The contrast of materials was one of the aspects of the design that attracted the owners. Not only  did Pomponi play with different textures and shades, but time periods as well. “I love to create the contrast between the past and the modern,” she says. For example, in the guest bathrooms, she paired an innovative new glass technique called Vetrite alongside pozzolana, an ancient material 30 per cent lighter than marble, which the Romans used to build aqueducts.

Credit: Laura Pomponi

After the owners joined the project, Pomponi only had a few months to have all the loose interior  and exterior furnishings and accessories custom made. For these she turned to a local network of artisans from the Marche region of Italy, all within a 60-kilometre radius of each other.

“Working with Laura on owner-supply interior and deck furniture has been fantastic,” the owners  say. “She is very talented and has many custom resources that we have not seen elsewhere.” For example, it was a 70-year-old gentleman who painstakingly glued each piece of dyed straw in the marquetry pattern Pomponi designed for a gorgeous cabinet in the bridge deck saloon. This cabinet’s unapologetic turquoise-green colour is one example of the bold touches that give the interior character. “The [wife] is addicted to colour,” says Pomponi. The dining table chairs are a pumpkin orange with bronze detailing that complement the Giallo Siena marble tabletop, and the owners’ suite borrows its hues from the sea. Its en suite features a blue mosaic by Sicis, offset by Mongolian marble. “It looks very simple, but it was very difficult to find marble that is soft, not dramatic but very calm, with touches of blue that match the mosaic,” says Pomponi.

The upper deck saloon shows off a bespoke art deco inspired cabinet with a straw marquetry pattern that was realised by an artisan in Italy’s Marche region
Credit: Laura Pomponi

Large artworks by Andrea Chisesi, an artist the owners discovered in Sicily, enliven the guest  cabins’ calm backdrop of a taupe colour veneer. The collection of eight pieces the designer and owners chose for the yacht are modern interpretations of famous Renaissance sculptures with a technique  the artist calls “Fusion”, which overlays photographs and painting.

One of the only layout changes the owners requested was to switch the functions of the beach club gym with the enclosed lounge on the sundeck. So, the fitness equipment was moved up top, allowing the designer to turn the beach club into a chic waterfront lounge, decorated with Dedon furniture from the Dala collection, a mirrored mosaic by Sicis and Vetrite glass-panelled doors that lead to the sauna and steam room. Pomponi also redesigned the forward sundeck’s spa pool to incorporate a bar counter for drinks to be served over the water.

Stretching full beam, the owner’s suite includes a balcony that opens off the starboard lounge area. There is a darker, richer veneer here than the saloons and guest cabins, paired with forward and aft walls in synthetic leather. The suite also includes an office and an en suite lavished in Mongolian marble
Credit: Jed Kenny

The design’s semi-custom nature means the engineering is tried and true, which was another selling point for the owners. “We are an adventurous family who loves to travel and immerse ourselves in the various cultures around the world,” they say. “Choosing a yacht we knew had a proven technical platform and naval architecture that would ensure comfort at sea for global cruising was essential.”

One of the evolutions in the series is the development of a hybrid power system that uses batteries  to meet the demands of the house systems without the need for a second generator to come online. “On previous vessels with two or three identical generators installed, there was a tendency to needlessly start multiple generators due to a combination of switchboard load, start-up spikes and the power management settings agreed with Lloyds,” says Pilaar. “The Amels 200 hybrid system prevents multiple generator starts and reduces low-load running on two generators, thus saving fuel, reducing engine hours while minimising wear and tear.  In addition to this, the fuel savings will create significant CO2 emission reduction.” For propulsion, Moonstone has two 12V 4000 MTUs that allow her to go 4,500 nautical miles at a respectable 13 knots.

Credit: Jed Kenny

“The owners are serious travellers,” says Pomponi, who reveals that their far-flung plans even include the North Pole. Aiding their adventures on board is a W3 wireless WASSP system, which allows them to cruise within a couple of centimetres of the yacht’s 3.45-metre draft. Fitted to the tender, it performs a high-resolution bathymetric scan of the area just ahead of the mothership, sending the data to the bridge, where the crew can view a live 2D and 3D map of the ocean floor. It takes the risk and guesswork out of poorly charted areas, regions that have been subject to bottom-changing events such as hurricanes or areas where Moonstone is simply cutting it close.

The beach club includes a sauna, while a massage room lies adjacent to the gym up on the sundeck. Here the overhead was pushed to its limit so the fitness equipment wouldn’t need to be recessed into the floor
Credit: Laura Pomponi

After taking delivery, the owners wasted no time in putting Moonstone’s long-range capabilities to good use. “We spent our first summer cruising in Greece, Sicily, Sardinia and Spain. It was wonderful, with Moonstone promising everything that we expected,” they say. “During the summer we did not have our support vessel with us. Moonstone met up with our support vessel in St Barths for our 2021/22 cruising season. So far, we have cruised in the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and are now in the Sea of Cortez. Moonstone delivers against all of our dreams, and (along with the Damen support vessel) the two boats together are an unbeatable combination of luxury and adventure.”

First published in the October 2022 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

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Amels   60 m •  2021

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