The new tender to the 18th largest yacht in the world Issham al Baher has to be something special, especially when the 115.76 metre motor yacht is getting ready to emerge from a protracted five-year refit in Piraeus, Greece.
To go with her smart new paint job - her previously white hull is now a deep blue - and various other cosmetic modifications to her superstructure, most notably her tender deck, her owners chose to commission a fully customised Limousine 100 from Venetian water taxi builders Cantiere Nautico Tagliapietra.
The 9.9 metre limousine tender is constructed out of cold moulded mahogany using a vacuumed bagged epoxy technique, with solid mahogany planked sides and a mahogany deck with maple caulking - worked up to a high gloss sheen with 20 coats of varnish.
While the rounded overhanging stem matches the classic look of its mother ship, the limousine tender's design gives paramount consideration to owner and guest comfort - the hull has been shaped to get on the plane at low rpm and trim angle, and the boat's buoyancy and dynamic lift have been optimised to have an excellent trim angle whether there are one or 10 guests on board. With the comfort of its guests assured, the twin propellor Limousine 100 can hit 40 knots thanks to its two D3 190hp engines.
Guests can board the tender either via foldaway boarding ladders on either side of the cockpit, which come with retractable handrails, or over the hydraulic retractable gangway aft, stepping down over a leather-upholstered banquette which curves around the aft end of the cockpit.
Inside, guests sit on fine leather-upholstered banquettes running port and starboard, presided over by the red leather owner's armchair in the bow, while under foot is a teak and maple caulked sole, and over head are three electric sun roofs. Amongst the tender's custom features are a media centre and a day head. Air-conditioning and heating further ensure guest comfort, and refreshments can be served from either of the two refrigerators - one in the cabin and one in the aft cockpit.
What sets custom vessels apart over and above good looks and optimised performance are their finely honed practical details and the Limousine 100 has a few of those - well-positioned hand rails; a handsome stainless steel anchor plate; a foldable driving step at the helm station to accommodate drivers of different heights; a foldable windshield that reduces the tender's height for lifting and stowing on board; and carefully positioned lifting lugs to ensure easy balancing.
Back on board the mother ship a custom teak cradle awaits the Limousine 100 on its refurbished tender deck, and it will be hoisted up by new smaller cranes which have replaced large, old ones. Issham al Baher's lengthy refit would suggest that her original interior has had a makeover too.
Built in 1973 by Hellenic Shipyards, the steel motor yacht's exterior was designed by Cesar Pinnau, while her naval architecture came from Maierform. Once owned by Greek shipping magnet Stavros Niarchos, Al Salamah, as she was originally called, was presented to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, and then renamed several times as she was passed down the ladder of Saudi Arabian royal yacht ownership. Her present name Issham al Baher was given to her following the launch of Al Salamah in 1999, and she is believed to still be owned by the Saudi royal family.