The 63.7m Hakvoort explorer Scout is a beautiful home away from home for an adventurous owner, his partner and their canine companions, writes Marilyn Mower
There is a sense of purpose to Scout – well, actually, more than one purpose. With her high bow, massive grey hull and towering decks, it’s hard not to get the sense that this nearly 64-metre yacht is meant for open seas and far horizons. Scout is the largest yacht – by length and volume – delivered by the 100-year-old Hakvoort yard. Big shoulders, in the form of a sundeck arch, wrap down around the superstructure while a helipad atop the mooring deck says she’s serious about going places. But, as you get to know this boat more intimately, it becomes clear that her nature is anything but coldly utilitarian.
Scout’s role is to be a safe and secure floating home on which owner James Berwind and his partner, Kevin Clark, will spend about seven months a year, accompanied by their rescue dogs named Brio and Scout. “We want to enjoy the sea and the fresh air and travel with our dogs. We live casually outdoors so a yacht suits us; it’s a vehicle to take us places,” Berwind says. After Florida and the Caribbean this winter, they will venture to remoter parts of the British Isles, the fjords of Scandinavia and Hawaii (for starters).
His previous yacht was a 45-metre full-displacement, drawn and styled by Ron Holland, with a quasi-explorer look and a large open top deck. “We knew we did not want the white wedding cake look,” says Clark. “We don’t have a need to conform and we don’t take ourselves that seriously.”
And, aside from top-drawer mechanicals and hefty construction specifications, neither does the yacht. Which brings us to Scout’s other purpose: fun. There are fantasy elements reminiscent of how the future was once imagined à la Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 film Metropolis. Throw in Atlantis, the futuristic underwater lair of 007’s nemesis in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, and place it against a modernist backdrop spiced with imaginative custom furniture and you have an interior that delights at every turn.
H2 Yacht Design’s Jonny Horsfield, who styled the yacht inside and out, is the first to say it’s like nothing he’s ever done before. There are so many clever details that it’s hard to take it all in. And that’s exactly the point. This is a home rather than a holiday pad and it must keep its occupants engaged and entertained for months on end.
It was broker Stuart Larsen of Fraser who helped Berwind develop bid requirements for a yacht of 60 to 65 metres and then suggested he interview several design firms. Must-haves included a large sundeck. “We live on the sundeck – that was the one thing we borrowed from the previous boat,” says Berwind. “We had two requirements for that deck: elevator access and a dayhead. But I was adamant that it be completely open from front to back. During interviews, the designers we talked to kept trying to put a small house in the middle. When I told Jonny it had to have a dayhead and an elevator and still be totally open, he said, ‘Well there’s only one way to do that – move them outboard and incorporate them into the arch’,” remembers Berwind, who secretly had this in mind. “He got the job on the spot.”
Then they set to work sketching the rest of the boat, the profile taking on its husky masculine look. Berwind’s first pencil sketch, on a sheet of lined paper, hangs framed in the wheelhouse. It looks unmistakably like the finished product. “Jonny was very easy to work with and we were very lucky to have found him,” says Berwind.
Larsen sent his client’s bid request to several yards and all replied with a new-build package, price and time frame. Hakvoort, however, added an intriguing second bid, offering to build the boat on an ice-classed steel hull, drawn by the respected Dutch studio Diana Yacht Design, that had already been started.
“Noting the dimensions of the stopped project were quite similar to that of the Scout bid, I projected Jonny’s layout on this hull,” recalls Klaas Hakvoort. “That was in August 2015 and at the Fort Lauderdale show, they signed the letter of intent.” Berwind adds: “The superstructure that had been started and the layout nothing like we wanted but the idea of saving time, we thought perhaps as much as a year, was attractive, especially when we realised we could have 95 per cent of what we wanted on this hull.”
And so building Scout began by unbuilding the other boat first, starting with removing its nascent superstructure and reworking the transom for a better beach club and a dive store. Horsfield’s design called for more windows and skylights and Hakvoort notes that required a different framing plan to accommodate the larger openings.
“The crane on the foredeck was quite a feat as well,” he adds. Nautical Structures was the only supplier willing to attempt the unique knuckle-boom crane, with an 8,000kg lifting capacity that would fit the length of a new forward tender bay (behind a raised helipad) and maintain a low enough profile for forward visibility from the lounge. The entire area was strengthened down to the keel to support the crane and helicopter load and all of the bulwarks were enclosed for the safety of the dogs. In all, Hakvoort says the build required 80,000 work-hours of metal reconstruction.
“Did we actually save a lot of time? No. But I would absolutely do this again. The fixed hull gave limitations to the project and kept us from saying, ‘Let’s add a little more here or there.’ We looked at the hull as a foundation to a house; everything other than the footprint was ours to define,” says Berwind.
“James wanted the boat to look as if it had had another life before it became a yacht,” explains Horsfield, which explains some old-fashioned ship gauges among the decor and doors that recall watertight compartment doors on cargo vessels. Yet everything is finely finished rather than gnarled. “He definitely didn’t want a Disney boat, but he wanted furniture with stories. These are fun clients with a sense of humour. The owner trained as an architect and design interests him. My job was to listen to him and put his thoughts into something that could be built.”
The yacht’s main saloon establishes that Verne/Lang/Fleming influence immediately with its fantastical furniture and decor. Forward of the saloon is the main lobby and a starboard-side guest entrance. Carpeted stair treads – one of the few carpeted surfaces aboard and a concession to the dogs – wrap around a clear glass lift while forward are four guest cabins, identical in size but given distinctive colour schemes via mosaic tiles keyed to a photograph of a sea creature above each bed’s headboard. Each guest room has pairs of oversized windows of toughened glass that do not require storm ports for crossings.
While there are outdoor dining options on the main deck and sundeck – each with adjacent bars – there is no indoor dining room, a growing trend. “We didn’t have a formal dining room on our last boat. We turned a VIP cabin into a dining space, but I had no intention of doing that here,” notes Berwind. “I thought possibly of enclosing the upper aft deck but then got the idea of making the forward lounge convertible. The only time we’ll use it for dining is when we have to.”
The observation lounge, with its view over the tenders, is a light, bright, multi-use space to retreat to if cold or storms force the owners off their beloved sundeck. Two round tables, with stone tops inset with constellations, are flanked by L-shaped forward-facing love seats and casual high-backed chairs in tweed, all on a slightly raised teak and holly platform. A high-top table and two stools tuck up against the forward windows. Overhead, three skylights pour light into the room and over a “squid” sculpture, created by Alastair Gibson from carbon fibre and Formula 1 car parts.
The aft bulkhead is faced with curio shelves, flanking an unusual bar: when closed it appears as a large globe, but it slides open in sections along lines of longitude to reveal shelves for drinks or snacks, storage for glasses and a drawer for plates. Aft of the lounge is a large and well-thought-out service pantry that links to the crew’s centre of circulation on port with a full-size fridge, dishwasher and loads of counter space for final plating. A lift for a full-size food cart connects this pantry to the galley on the lower deck. Storage, crew spaces and circulation pathways are large at the owner’s direction.
The master suite is entered through a library packed with an eclectic section of books, nautical antiques and miniature steam engines plumbed to run on compressed air. Much of Scout’s artwork is a collection of collages by New York artist William Steiger, who Berwind first encountered on Instagram. Steiger’s collages are made by meticulously hand-cutting paper, including nautical and star charts, with X-Acto blades. The pieces are painted with transparent layers of gouache before being glued down in layers to create the final collaged image. The collection includes channel markers, turbines and machinery, sextants, vintage diving helmets, propellers, compasses, seaplanes and the Atlantis from the Bond film.
“I sent him subjects that I wanted to include but he found the images and made the collages from them using the charts as backgrounds,” says Berwind. “The industrial/mechanical themes of his work really fit Scout.”
From this quiet space, with grey oak walls and a shaggy carpet evoking seagrasses, a corridor leads past large bathrooms port and starboard and their attendant dressing areas. Frosted floor-to-ceiling glass panels brighten the corridor with light from the bathrooms while maintaining privacy. Art sits in dark-stained lacewood niches surrounded by faux leather panelling. The master suite is the size of a Manhattan studio apartment and it seems even larger given the private terrace or “puppy park” beyond. The aft-facing bed is backed by panels of bubble glass and the high-gloss ceiling is sculpted to mimic waves.
From the puppy park, stairs lead to the deck above where the yacht shelters a one-of-a-kind greenhouse. This is Berwind’s “me space”, with an enclosed teak shade house with slats for hanging plants in baskets and a potting shed on starboard with a sink and room for garden tools and pots. A passionate gardener, Berwind delights in caring for the yacht’s many plants.
The bridge is another popular spot and Captain Kynan McDonald had free rein to design it. His choice was for a ship-like arrangement with a floating console. Not only does this give critical visibility at night but it means all of the equipment can be easily accessed from the rear. A large chart table separates two raised sofas for guests or an extra watch.
Leading-edge security systems were integrated on board to suit Scout’s intent for global expedition. “If you are going to have an expedition boat, advanced security is something you have to plan for,” says McDonald. And for owners who are now able to see the world at their own pace by taking their home and their furry friends with them, it’s the final bit of extra planning that makes everything possible.