The Dubai International Boat Show is taking place in March and while we suspect the big discussions will be focused on the seizure of superyachts belonging to Russian oligarchs, there will still be plenty of optimism for an industry that is thriving right now.
Shipyards around the world are struggling to keep up with demand as their order books continue to swell, but at the same time, everyone from the yards to interior designers are enjoying the return of the big boat shows. They are also getting involved in more conversations regarding environmental concerns, from the materials used to the form of propulsion. It’s all still about the very best in luxury, but it’s luxury with more of a conscience.
This is not really something Dubai is well known for, yet a number of eco-friendly manufacturers are using the show to get people excited about the future on the water. These include the beautiful and very traditional-looking Faro Boats from Portugal. Looking like a modern take on the traditional wooden or Fibreglass river boat, these pleasure cruisers run on electric power and you can even have one with its own solar-powered docking station, essentially a garage on the water where the boat can charge up.
Seabubble is another manufacturer offering an alternative propulsion solution. Its unique pod, which can lift out of the water on foils, is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell solution that ensures that only water is emitted into the water.
Both the Faro and the Seabubble could just be toys on board the latest design from Dutch yacht builder, Feadship. It’s still just an interactive concept, but the Pure is an 81.75m luxury yacht that can be built with a diesel-electric hybrid, hydrogen-hybrid or full hydrogen fuel cell power. It is the latest in a range of concept designs that the shipyard began back in 2006 with a view of showcasing its design and technology skills and while some elements might appear futuristic, the company says everything can be done today.
Pure is a five-deck yacht featuring a number of unusual design elements, the most notable of which is the lack of an obvious bridge deck. Instead, the bridge is hidden inside the vessel with views around provided not by windows, but by screens that transmit information and images from cameras and sensors. It will not appeal to traditional captains at all and it remains to be seen if it will be part of any production version, but what it does do is free up that valuable space looking out over the front of the yacht for the owner’s master cabin, complete with private jacuzzi.
Feadship is also very clever at hiding things, most notably the windows. The overall design of the Pure is of elegant and simple sculpture, but look closely and you will see the almost invisible windows in the side profile. These look hidden on the outside but still provide clear visibility for those inside — perfect if you want to remain away from prying eyes.
While the Pure is all about indulging in luxury, the latest SeaXplorer 77 from Damen Yachting is about exploring in luxury. Currently in build at the company’s yard, the 76.90m yacht is a real go-anywhere vessel, designed and engineered to be as comfortable in the Indian Ocean cruising the Seychelles or Maldives as it is carving though ice around Antarctica.
It might have been engineered to explore new places, but the SeaXplorer is not short of luxurious mod cons, with everything from a luxurious master stateroom to jacuzzis and a pool. The tender garage can house numerous water toys or even a helicopter, which can be lowered into it from the helipad above to convert the deck to an entertainment space. This is the type of exploring you see in Hollywood movies, where the guests want to be shaken but not stirred.
This all looks and sounds very Dubai of course, the very best in luxury and opulence, but there’s no doubt that changes are happening and with them are coming some very exciting developments, not just in terms of materials but design and technology too.