Refits can often present challenges, particularly when the vessel being transformed is a commercial craft. Such is the case with R/V Nadir, which is in the process of being redesigned and relaunched in Seattle as the 185-foot Alucia.
But the challenges don’t lie simply with the boat’s original purpose. After all, several Coast Guard vessels, tugs, and research vessels have been turned into yachts. No, the challenge with this project, at least for Joseph Artese Design, was to figure out how to have her serve dual purposes as a floating art gallery and as a luxury platform that ocean explorers could live and work on.
Deep Ocean Quest, an organization founded in 2004 to explore and study the oceans, commissioned the refit so that they could expand their travels. Because the principals are also passionate underwater filmmakers and art lovers, they requested that Artese create an art gallery of sorts to showcase some of their images. The gallery (above) is being created from a 60-foot-long passageway on the helideck that was part of the original layout (Nadir was built in 1973). Fittingly, “Guests arriving via helicopter get the first opportunity to view the latest in underwater photography as they pass through on their way to their accommodations and the bridge deck above,” Artese notes. As for those accommodations, there are four guest staterooms with Pullmans plus a VIP stateroom, all directly off the art gallery–or what Artese terms a “‘grotto like’ artistic display of marine life.”
So how will Deep Ocean Quest’s principals obtain those images? Simple: with submersibles stowed aboard. As Nadir, the vessel carried some, so this capability is being preserved for Alucia. She’ll tote three two-man subs, two of which are capable of diving to 3,280 feet, the other capable of diving to 2,000 feet. Naval architect Boris Kirilloff was tapped not only to design the subs’ hangar, with individual berths that each sub will track to, but also to engineer the entire refit, paying special attention to things like science labs that the owners requested.
Even with this emphasis on underwater exploration and science, Alucia won’t lack in creature comforts. Artese selected maple wood for multiple rooms as well as stonework. For example, the saloon (above) and dining area, located aft of the pilothouse, will feature limestone countertops, since they “resemble the bottom of the sea,” he says. A 50-inch plasma television and blackout shades on the floor-to-ceiling windows aft will allow the principals of Deep Ocean Quest and their guests to watch the day’s film footage, or whatever else they wish. They’ll also get to enjoy a backlit glass wall that serves as a bulkhead in the saloon. The clients requested that Artese create an underwater effect for this wall, so he designed a series of two- by three-foot electro-luminescent Lumicor panels and framed them in maple.
Alucia is expected to be complete this coming February.
photos: all courtesy Joseph Artese Design; profile rendering Artese/Davis