Megayacht News Onboard: Moonen Shipyards’ Sofia

ALL PHOTOS: Dick Holthuis Photography

Moonen Sofia

It’s one thing to conceive and build a megayacht around the idea of carrying a personal submarine when you’re an avid diver and you want to share similar experiences with your guests. It’s quite another to order a larger submarine when the yacht is already under construction—and for much of that decision to come at the urging of the builder. Such was the case with the 138-foot (42-meter) Sofia, built by Moonen Shipyards.

Moonen Sofia

The owner, a repeat customer who previously had a Moonen 84 and Moonen 97, signed a contract for a 131-footer (40-meter) back in 2009. The new Sofia would also become the largest Moonen to date. The decision to tap Moonen again was easy. “My experiences with Sofia and Sofia II emphasized the quality of design and build of Moonen,” he says. “The yachts were safe, solid, and reliable even in rough weather. I welcomed many experienced sailors and owners onboard, and all were impressed by the construction quality, low noise levels, and immaculate carpentry work.” From the start, he wanted the new Sofia to tote a two-person sub. But when Moonen’s managing director, Emile Bilterijst, sea trialed such a sub in 2010, he realized the owner really needed at least a three-person craft, to guarantee two guest seats plus the pilot.

Moonen Sofia

The switch to the bigger sub, a U-Boat Worx C-Quester 3 model, came 10 months after the megayacht was signed. It was 50 percent heavier, so Moonen, Rene van der Velden, and Stolk Marimecs increased her length and specified a heavier-capacity crane. That crane extends out from the swim platform and can be used as a boarding platform for the sub, too, meeting Lloyds classification and MCA standards.

Moonen YN194 Sofia

Speaking of impressions, how’s this for a dramatic main deck? Art-Line Interiors, which built upon an initial interior design from van der Velden, emphasized open, flowing spaces with architecturally minded details. Unusual, eye-catching shapes and carvings are complemented by equally unusual materials like coconut paper. Zebrano, oak, and backlit stone columns. Also unusual: The settees (far aft of the dining area and bar in the foreground) are on rails, allowing for the owners and guests to shift them around easily for different experiences and views.

Moonen Sofia stairs

At Sofia’s center is a skylight-topped atrium, with spiral stairs leading throughout her decks and an impressive column of backlit stone (the vertical rectangle toward the right of the photo) rising through them. Something of this nature is a real surprise aboard a megayacht of Sofia’s size. The owner wanted to emphasize both the height and volume of his yacht and for the stairway to serve as a statement piece. Both goals certainly are achieved.

Moonen Shipyards

A popular feature aboard several Moonen megayachts (what the shipyard likes to call “pocket superyachts,” due to their smaller LOAs) is an alfresco lounge on the bridge deck. Sofia has this terrific teak-decked space, shaded by the upper-deck overhang. Sliding windows to both sides bring the breezes on in. Forward, just inside is a gym tucked to starboard, with an aft glass door that can be left open, as shown, to thematically connect it to the lounge. A small pantry a few steps away inside, by the wheelhouse, can service guests.

Moonen YN194 Sofia

Guests and the owner enjoy the same decor scheme in all of their cabins, though of course the main-deck owner’s suite amps it up. That’s a wall of imprinted leather you see behind the bed, with wicker lining the bed frame. Just visible in the foreground is a seating area, given extra elbow room by shifting the bed farther to the port side.

Moonen Shipyards "SOFIA III"

All four guest staterooms—two queens and two twins—below decks have a good deal of headroom. Art-Line Interiors and Sofia’s owner selected sandblasted oak for the doors to each stateroom, with a mix of oak and zebrano inside.

Moonen Sofia wheelhouse

Since delivery over the summer, Sofia has been busy cruising and attending boat shows (the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is next on her itinerary). The owner’s captain reports Sofia to be a well-handling boat and of equal quality to other megayachts he’s helmed that were built by northern European shipyards of renown. Sofia reportedly achieved better-than-required sound and vibration levels during sea trials, too. For her specific classification under Lloyd’s, Sofia needed to have sound levels no higher than 50 dB-A (65 is the level of normal conversation) in guest staterooms. Moonen says 40 to 46 dB-A were the results, with the higher numbers coming from staterooms closer to the engine room. Here in the wheelhouse, sound level was 45 dB-A, compared to 60 dB-A being permitted.

Moonen Sofia

This is one megayacht that makes quite the impression. Sofia’s 470-ton displacement is deceiving, as she feels far more voluminous. She’s also far more detailed than most other yachts in her size range, which is dominated by semi-custom craft. Then there’s the deceivingly simple submarine setup. It all just goes to show that with some yachts, there is far more than meets the eye.

Moonen Unveils New Yacht and Megayacht Designs

Moonen Shipyards has two new yacht designs available in four sizes total, reflecting a return to its roots yet staying true to its “pocket superyacht” focus.

Moonen Shipyards, established in 1963, has long offered designs that many in the marine industry today call mid-size yachts, around 60 to 80 feet LOA. But, given client demand, in the late 2000s it started offering megayachts upwards of 120 feet and larger. In fact, it’s been at least six years since Moonen Shipyards splashed a megayacht smaller than its 84 Alu series. Recently, according to Emile Bilterijst, Moonen’s managing director, “We have had several enquiries from entry level owners, and it is vital that we do not price ourselves out of this area.”

That’s the driving factor behind the first design, by Nick Mezas Yacht Design. Pictured above, the fast-displacement design is available as a 59-footer, 65’6” yacht, and 78’7” yacht (18, 20, and 24 meters, respectively). The fast-displacement aspect combines Moonen’s round-bilge hull form with a good turn of speed, an anticipated 22-knot top end. As for Mezas, he’s a relative newcomer to the industry, a young naval architect who has caught the attention of a few established firms. His freshness is fitting, then, for the new semi-custom Moonen series, intended to attract younger buyers looking for something a bit different. Volvo Penta’s IPS propulsion system, aboard each model, will also appeal to them. It’s proven to save fuel and occupies a smaller physical footprint, allowing for more usable space. It’s also a joystick system that is incredibly intuitive for owner-operators and buyers wishing to take the wheel more themselves. The fact that the inside helm is open to the saloon, Bilterijst says, should attract families. And building the yacht to CE standards rather than full classification, common for this size range, will keep costs down.

As for remaining faithful to its “pocket superyacht” focus, Moonen worked with Rene van der Velden for this 100-foot raised-pilothouse design. She’s fitted with a nearly plumb bow and a hardtop shading part of the flying bridge. Speaking of the flying bridge, it has more space devoted to the owners and guests due to a toy garage. The garage will further feature a launching system beneath the tender, rather than an overhead davit, saving even more space.

Owners will also appreciate the full-beam main-deck master, yet the crew’s ability to still access all points of the main deck. Moonen struck a compromise by making the side decks narrow a bit as they flow forward.

Other interior amenities haven’t been mentioned, though it’s easily to imagine three staterooms for guests below decks and crew accommodations for nearly the same number of people.

Rene van der Velden 110-Foot Megayacht Cruiser Concept Project

While other designers are researching hybrid technology for more fuel-efficient megayacht designs, Rene van der Velden is confident economy-minded owners can remain that way with traditional diesel power. That’s one of the features of the 110-foot cruiser concept seen here.

In fact, the Rene van der Velden 110 Cruiser includes a variety of basic systems and machinery, eschewing the trend to go high-tech. As the head of the eponymous design firm puts it, owners looking for lower construction and operating costs don’t always want overly sophisticated technology.

For propulsion, the 110-foot Cruiser will reply on a choice of twin Caterpillar engines. If 1,900-hp C32 ACERTs are selected, top speed should be 18 knots, and cruise speed should be 14 knots. With 715-hp C18 ACERTs, top end should be 14 knots, with a 12-knot cruise.

Another good example: the tender stowage and launching area. Many megayachts have tender garages, which are great for keeping toys out of view. However, van der Velden argues, they require costly hydraulic devices for watertight integrity and regulatory compliance. Other megayachts, especially ones in the 100-foot range, place the toys aft on the flying bridge—which, van der Velden rightly points out, blocks the view. By contrast, the 110-foot megayacht concept has a foredeck beamy enough to hold a handful of toys. The bulwarks are additionally high enough to hide them from view and keep them secure. And, of course, a dedicated crane launches and retrieves them. If an owner so wishes, though, the stowage area can become hidden within housing topped by a hatch.

The design team is leaving construction material up to the owner’s and/or builder’s choice, though van der Velden recommends a steel hull for strength and ease of repair essentially worldwide. The superstructure can be comprised of either fiberglass or aluminum.

Also up to owner’s choice is the interior decor. Layout options are further open to interpretation, though van der Velden envisions four guest staterooms below decks and a main-deck owner’s suite. The suggested layout allows the two forward guest staterooms to transform into a large suite, a nice touch.

The 110 Cruiser concept has some innovative ideas that would be a shame not to see come to fruition. One of them is the saloon, featuring sliding glass doors (up to five) to really open up the area. These were chosen to make the saloon equally favored as a gathering area, since so many owners and guests use the skylounge more often. Another innovative idea: sliding glass panels overhead and to each side in the skylounge. Picture the yacht in a picturesque anchorage with all the panels wide open, or just the “sunroof” open… it’s a flexibility not found on other yachts.

Note, too, that the flying-bridge deck, where the skylounge is located, is the uppermost deck. Rene van der Velden purposely eliminates the common third deck, dedicated as a sundeck or a flying bridge depending on how other designers and builders term it. The reason: weight savings aloft, which translates to better stability, a more moderate beam (22’3”, or 6.8 meters), and lower construction and operating costs.

For more information on the 110 Cruiser directly from Rene van der Velden, fill out our contact form.

Fourth Moonen 97 Nears Completion

Series-built yachts incorporate a lot of proven technology, but sometimes they strike new ground of their own. Such is the case with the fourth 97 from Moonen Shipyards.

A sistership to Moonen’s Livia, which was delivered last year, the new Moonen 97 has a displacement-style steel hull and accommodations for eight. Styling is by Rene van der Velden, and the interior design is from another frequent collaborator, Art-Line Interiors. Even with the same team onboard, however, some changes have been made. For one, Moonen incorporated composite piping instead of metal piping for potable water and chilled water, and throughout the engine room. The reason: It now paints the engine room and other key areas where the pipes run before laying pipework. Previously, Moonen craftsmen welded the pipes inside these areas, installed them, and then painted. The new approach precludes permitting “dirty work,” so to speak, from going on. Moonen believes it’s a better, higher-quality approach. The composite nature of the pipes still meets Lloyds classification, too.

The eventual owner (the yacht is for sale) and guests won’t see that, of course, but they will appreciate another change. Moonen provided 50 percent additional clearance between the propellers and the hull bottom. (The propellers are mated to twin 600-hp Caterpillar C18s.) Water coming off the props creates vibration, which in turn can transmit bothersome sound. The extra clearance should reduce both of those.

Later this month, I’ll be visiting Moonen and will be aboard the 97 for a sea trial. I’ll have photos and hopefully video of her out on the water, as well as of her full-beam master, VIP stateroom, and two guest cabins. More details to come following the visit. In the meantime, if you’re interested in acquiring the yacht, visit the dedicated Moonen 97 website.

Moonen’s First 99 Alu

Moonen Phoebe

Some people like fast cars. Others like fast yachts. Anyone falling into the latter category should take a look at Phoebe, an evolution of Moonen’s Fast Yacht Series.

As I explained last November, when her hull and superstructure were matched up, Phoebe was commissioned by clients who liked the first Fast Yacht Series, the 94 Alu, but wanted more room for crew. Stretching the design in various areas resulted in additional space aft on the main deck and up on the flying bridge – and the creation of the Moonen 99 Alu, with Phoebe being the first launch.

Like her smaller sisters, her hull and superstructure are aluminum – specifically, Sealium, which is touted for its light weight, strength, and corrosion-resistance. Even with the knowledge of how the 94 Alu performed, Moonen conducted tank tests on Phoebe’s hull, which is from the design boards of Stolk Marimecs. Servogear controllable-pitch propellers paired with twin Caterpillar C-32 ACERTs reportedly permit a top speed of 26 knots. (If you’re interested in the technical aspects of this setup, you can find more details on and an illustration of the propellers here.)

Inside, the 99 Alu shares some similarities with the 94 Alu and other Moonens, such as the fore-aft galley tucked to port. But this time, the galley is a bit larger, with a door to the side deck. Down below, the VIP stateroom is a bit larger as well, since a watertight bulkhead was able to be moved aft.

Phoebe, with styling by René van der Velden Yacht Design and interior by Rhoades Young, is being handed over to her owners this month.