CUTTING THE JEWEL

The refit that transformed a 30-year-old Feadship into Emerald

Wide shot of Emerald

Risa Merl dives into the refit that transformed a 30-year-old Feadship into Emerald, a 50-metre reimagined for modern life

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

There was no wading in slowly for the owner of the 50-metre modern classic Feadship motor yacht Emerald. For his first-ever yacht renovation, he dived right in, embarking on an extensive rebuild that included a stern extension, sundeck and upper deck restructuring, exterior restyling and interior decor overhaul. But the crux of the brief was a new layout that reimagined a vintage Feadship for modern use.

“Spending the summer on boats for the past 15 years, a refit was always a dream project and a Feadship was at the top of the wish list,” says Emerald’s owner. As a longtime Feadship admirer, the owner deemed it important that the rebuild be sympathetic to the original design. A careful balancing act was achieved to maintain the quintessential Feadship styling while updating the yacht to meet the needs of her outdoors-loving owner, future charter clients and her crew.

RICHIE WOLFF

RICHIE WOLFF

Launched by Feadship in 1990 as Alfa Alfa, the yacht has gone through many a name change in her 33-year history, from Kisses to Mayan Queen, Marion Queen and, most recently before her sale in 2021, MQ2. “MQ2 was particularly interesting with her general layout and large deck space, which provided the perfect base to rebuild a yacht to our modern needs,” the owner says.

Emerald is a stark contrast to the owner’s first boat, a fast-flying Itama 75 open yacht. “We kicked things off by going for speed and open spaces,” he says. “The Itama was perfect for cruising around Corsica and Sardinia with the family, exploring all those charming little bays and beaches.” To nail down what he wanted to achieve in a refit, he chartered a variety of larger yachts. At the same time, the hunt was on for a Feadship that would be suitable for the job. David Westwood of TWW Yachts helped the owner find Emerald, which was listed for sale with Merle Wood & Associates.

Emerald exterior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS It was essential that the feeling of the original classic Feadship styling was maintained both inside and out during the refit

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS It was essential that the feeling of the original classic Feadship styling was maintained both inside and out during the refit

“It’s a Dutch boat with Dutch heritage, so it was important to maintain Dutch craftsmanship,” says James Hall of TWW Yachts. “We’ve not ripped the soul out of it, instead the refit is giving the yacht another 20 years of life.” The owner pulled together an all-star team of Dutch engineering know-how and craftspeople. Balk, the chosen shipyard, introduced Jim Boot of WMC Superyachts to serve as owner’s representative, and Mulder Design provided the naval architecture. Updating the exterior profile and interior design fell to Design Unlimited in the UK, introduced to the client by TWW – the one departure from having a fully Dutch team.

Emerald exterior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

“The brief was to enhance what was there – to be sympathetic to the yacht’s original lines and enhance it with the use of contemporary finishes and tasteful modifications,” says Marcus Rayner, design lead at Design Unlimited, who worked on this project with his colleague Sophie Porteous, interior designer at the studio. “The trick is to create as much change as possible working with the existing structure and systems, leading to a vastly improved yacht that feels authentic. We identified the areas that needed to be changed to improve the function of the yacht and carefully reconstructed those areas to offer 21st century amenities yet styling them using period details.”

Emerald exterior, pre refit

STUART PEARCE

STUART PEARCE

Mulder Design engineered the 2.5-metre stern extension that brought Emerald up to 50.4 metres. Those extra few metres went a long way, expanding the exterior decks, opening up the stern for better water access, providing space for the addition of a lazarette aft of the guest cabins, and elongating Emerald’s already elegant lines.

The yacht had decent-sized deck space for the time she was built, but it wasn’t quite expansive enough for today’s yachting lifestyle, which puts a premium on outdoor living. Prior to the extension, the aft deck had a C-shaped sofa paired with a few small tables; Emerald’s aft deck now welcomes guests to unwind al fresco with a deep built-in sofa set aft and a 12-seater dining table.

Emerald exterior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The upper aft deck was extended and streamlined, with one 3,000kg-capacity crane replacing two smaller ones

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The upper aft deck was extended and streamlined, with one 3,000kg-capacity crane replacing two smaller ones

A well-stocked toy garage was a priority both to Emerald’s owner and in making a popular charter yacht. The entire stern was reimagined to make way for an impressively sized lazarette – stocked with a bounty of water toys – which has direct access to the swim platform. The stern was restyled, too, doing away with the semi-enclosed, boxy transom to create an open swim platform that juts out beyond the forward-raked stern. This new stern shape changes the profile of the vessel and gives the illusion of forward motion. Adding a second staircase leading from the main deck down to the swim platforms lends symmetry when viewing her from the rear.

Emerald exterior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Modifications such as extending the brow of the wheelhouse, replacing the mast and lengthening the superstructure on the upper deck have subtly changed the yacht’s profile as well. “The fashion plates were also modified to modernise the looks of the yacht,” says Boot. “And she’s had a complete new paint job above the waterline.” The deep green colour from paint manufacturer Jotun is called Orion Green, befitting her new name.

“A refit was always a dream project, and a Feadship was at the top of the wish list”

The upper deck benefited from an extension of both the aft deck and superstructure, the latter of which afforded space for a larger saloon, a new pantry and improved captain’s quarters and nav station. The upper aft deck has been streamlined, replacing two smaller cranes with one three-tonne crane capable of launching the seven-metre Williams Jet Tender. Forward, the bridge was completely updated with new equipment.

Emerald interior

STUART PEARCE

STUART PEARCE

Emerald interior

STUART PEARCE

STUART PEARCE

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

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Emerald interior

STUART PEARCE

STUART PEARCE

Emerald interior

STUART PEARCE

STUART PEARCE

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Before and after: The former, animal-print laden interiors (top) were replaced with a neutral colour palette (bottom left). Bottom right: extending the main deck aft made room for a large dining table that seats up to 12 for al fresco meals under cover

The sundeck underwent a transformation by moving the spa pool from its previous position tucked away in a portside corner to a forward position, where guests can take in sweeping views while enjoying a soak. With its wet bar and al fresco dining, the sundeck is a favourite space on board, and the owner’s children have even enjoyed sleeping outside here at night, watching shooting stars fall from the sky.

As crew comfort was a goal from the outset, the owner chose to remove a lower-deck VIP cabin that was set forward of the engine room in order to expand the crew quarters. The four existing crew cabins were updated, and a double-berth engineer’s cabin was added, along with a laundry, walk-in refrigerator and freezer, and a large crew galley and mess. “The crew mess, which has increased considerably in size, will contribute to a happy crew,” says Boot.

Emerald exterior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The spa pool has been moved forward on the sundeck

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The spa pool has been moved forward on the sundeck

In terms of functional improvements, there was no inside access to the engine room, only an outside door on the main deck with ladder down. The project added a direct access door from the crew area to the engine room. The result is much improved routing via two staircases from the wheelhouse all the way down to the crew and engine room.

“We’ve not ripped the soul out of it; instead the refit is giving the yacht another 20 years of life”

But guests haven’t been forgotten. The designers seem to have performed a magic trick in relocating the VIP cabin aft of the full-beam owner’s cabin on the main deck. Both cabins are of excellent size, which will attract dual charter clients seeking equitable accommodation. To make this magic, the entire layout forward of the dining room bulkhead was started nearly from scratch. Crew access staircases were moved and consolidated to one internal staircase, and the previously narrow galley running vertically along the yacht’s centreline was replaced with a modern galley amidships, now benefiting from a window so the chef can have natural light – a specific request of the owner’s wife. The owner’s cabin itself was reconfigured, positioning the bed on the forward bulkhead and moving the en suite to alongside the VIP bath in between the two cabins.

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The interiors were conceived to appeal to charter clients and feel homely for the owners. A dark, matt-finished wenge timber is used throughout to contrast with the lighter soft goods and furnishings, like the white sofa in the upper deck lounge (below) and the main saloon (above)

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS The interiors were conceived to appeal to charter clients and feel homely for the owners. A dark, matt-finished wenge timber is used throughout to contrast with the lighter soft goods and furnishings, like the white sofa in the upper deck lounge (below) and the main saloon (above)

All of this was added while maintaining the size and layout of the original main saloon and dining area. “Achieving the layout and function the clients desire within an existing yacht’s platform is always a challenge,” says Rayner. “To ensure a smooth implementation, we use research, original ship’s drawings and the latest scanning technology and 3D CAD software to reduce the unknowns before the build starts.”

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

The interior decor was developed to be personal to the owners yet have universal appeal for a demanding charter market. Prior to the refit, MQ2 had an art deco-inspired interior, filled with high gloss woods, woven leather ceilings and a smattering of animal print. Emerald’s interior is a breath of fresh air in comparison, brightening things up with a neutral colour palette and white ceilings and walls. A dark, matt-finished wenge timber is used throughout to contrast with the lighter soft goods and furnishings. Bespoke metalwork was used as a detail in the furniture, and each en suite features different stones hand-selected by the owners to give each cabin its own identity.

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

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Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

The layout was reconfigured, moving the VIP (bottom right) from the lower deck to the main deck by the owner’s cabin (bottom left). On the lower deck (top left), four aft guest cabins were updated, and a guest cabin that was set forward of the engine room was removed to expand the crew quarters

Before the yacht went to Balk, she was stripped out in Malta so the team could see what was lurking underneath. It’s not unusual to find rust and hull degradation in a classic vessel, but as a testament to her original Feadship build quality and her constant upkeep over the years – the last refit was in 2015 – there was no major damage to report. The yacht was structurally sound. Even the original teak decks had to be only partially replaced. The parts that were preserved were re-sanded to perfection and re-caulked to match the new decking. “In a world of sustainability, why do things that don’t need doing?” says Hall of the choice to preserve as much of the decking as possible. The main engines – twin 850-horsepower Caterpillar C32 diesels – and the generators were also fairly new and didn’t require replacing.

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

That’s not to say the rebuild was entirely without challenges. “We did face some hiccups, like shortages of materials for the teak and Covid-19-related delays that caused price hikes and delivery issues, but the team at WMC Superyachts always found a way around these obstacles,” says the owner, who tried to be on site at the yard as much as was feasible in the midst of the pandemic. “Our in-person check-ins weren’t too frequent, but having top-notch representatives on site like WMC Superyachts’ Jim Boot and Bas Hardam made all the difference.”

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

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JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

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Emerald interior

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JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

Emerald interior

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

In Emerald, the owner has traded speed for classic good looks and comfortable seakeeping. One of the refit must-haves for his wife was zero- speed stabilisers, and Emerald now benefits from two Quantum XT fins. “While I would have loved some more knots,” he admits, “this time we went for comfort.” The owner plans to spend at least six weeks on board every summer in the Med and has already enjoyed Emerald this year with family and friends. “Our friends have been amazed by the outdoor spaces on board,” says the owner. “And we’ve had a very busy charter season this summer – feedback from guests was that they enjoyed the vast outdoor areas, the different watersports options and the young, energetic crew paired with an experienced captain.” Offered for charter by TWW Yachts, Emerald has plenty of bookings for the Caribbean winter season.

Renovating a modern classic Feadship like Emerald to modern standards was a dream fulfilled for her owner, and it may have whetted his appetite for more projects. “An intensive refit seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime project,” says the owner. “However, having done one now with the help of a great team, we might consider doing another in the future, should any suitable opportunity come by – who knows?” What is certain is that diving headfirst into a massive rebuild has paid off for Emerald’s owner tenfold.

First published in the November 2023 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

JULIEN HUBERT - TWW YACHTS

A new spa pool is sure to be a charter favourite

Crew circulation is isolated thanks to a separate internal
staircase

The owner’s cabin is still a good size and includes a walk-in wardrobe and en suite with a bathtub

The VIP cabin was relocated to the main deck

An engineer’s cabin was added forward of the crew mess

A hydraulic platform provides stairs into the sea

LOA 50.4m

Gross tonnage
478GT

LWL 45.1m

Engines
2 x 850hp Caterpillar C32

Beam 8.18m

Generators
2 x 125kW Kohler
125EFOZD

Draught 2.7m

Speed (max/cruise)
14/11 knots

Range at 11 knots
6,200nm

Owners/guests 12

Fuel capacity
52,900 litres

Crew 10

Freshwater capacity
18,400 litres

Construction
Steel hull; aluminium
superstructure

Naval architecture
De Voogt Naval Architects

Builder/year
Feadship/1990

Exterior design
Studio De Voogt

Refit interior design
Design Unlimited

Refit yard/year
Balk Shipyard/2023
Urk, the Netherlands
+31 (0) 527 681 741
balkshipyard.com

Refit naval architecture
Mulder Design

For charter
twwyachts.com

Refit exterior design
Mulder Design;
Design Unlimited