Megayacht News Onboard: Royal Huisman’s Pumula



For many megayacht owners, being on the water brings a peace and tranquility unattainable on land. For the owners of Pumula (pronounced poo-MOO-la), built by Royal Huisman, it means the same things, literally and figuratively. In the Zulu language of South Africa, “pumula” translates to rest/relax/to lie down. Taken another way, it means rest and peace. The 122’5” (37.33-meter) Pumula was commissioned as a way for a sailing couple to get away from the hustle and bustle of business and other parts of their lives. Furthermore, the superyacht sloop was commissioned to look every bit the bygone-era cruiser and rise to the modern challenges of cruising the world.


With the rich hue of her hull, her long overhangs, and teak-clad deckhouses, Pumula in profile looks the part of a cruiser from long ago. Even her LOA, which seems quite small compared to most other sailing superyachts these days, is in keeping with the idea. One-hundred-foot-long yachts were “the” superyachts in the golden age of yachting. As much as the photos here tell her story, though, they cannot do justice to the work Dykstra & Partners did for naval architecture and that the Royal Huisman craftsmen performed to varnish the acres of wood aboard, from the caprails to the cockpit tables; an enormous amount of brightwork for a megayacht meant to cruise the world.

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In keeping with the idea of a traditional cruising yacht, Pumula has just one wheel, not twin wheels. Along the same lines, the helm is clean and mostly invisible unless Pumula is cruising. While the control buttons visible to either side are built into the main cockpit’s frame, the navigation screens rise up from the same structure only when needed.


Within easy conversation and, of course, sight of the helm is the main cockpit, where the owners and small groups of friends have enjoyed meals and taken in the sights on the 12,000 nautical miles that Pumula has put under her keel since delivery last summer. You read that mileage figure right; equally impressive, Pumula and the owners made the remote Norwegian Sea archipelago of Spitsbergen part of their maiden voyage. Spitsbergen, on the edge of the North Pole, is about as remote as things get, in keeping with the owners’ list of dream cruising destinations. They are quite private people, less likely to join the “see and be seen” scene of the customary yachting destinations than to venture somewhere few others drop anchor.


When they do drop anchor and spend time inside Pumula, they have a classically styled decor to enjoy. While the photos don’t bring out the detail, the white walls and overhead, all oak planks, were painted by hand in house at Royal Huisman, and the brush strokes are deliberately visible. The soles are oak as well, treated to look aged, and so smooth underfoot you’d swear Pumula had welcomed the patter of dozens of human feet over dozens of years. The owners and the design team of Rhoades Young Design collaborated closely to ensure the right overall atmosphere would be set.


It was equally important for Pumula’s owners to eschew the “upstairs-downstairs” separation of guests and crew aboard their megayacht. That explains why the galley has barstools on the saloon side and a rising partition for privacy that’s used sparingly, such as when dishes are being done or other noisy work takes place. Note the angular shape of the counter in the foreground; the partition follows it. Note also the metallic bartop—pewter, not polished stainless steel as you might assume. Yes, pewter is softer and can therefore get dings and dents with use, plus it gets a darker patina as it ages… effects the owners wanted. As precious as Pumula is to them, she is not so precious as to be untouchable.


The owners sometimes cruise with small groups of friends, so Pumula has two twin-bedded guest staterooms, plus a double-berth room up forward that can accommodate additional guests or a pilot when the megayacht is in waters requiring that specialist’s experience. In each stateroom, Rhoades Young cleverly mixes classic design elements with modern ones, like the leather nightstands that were created to mimic old steamer trunks and similar early-era luggage.


The same luggage treatment appears in the master suite, aft and with access to a private cockpit. The suite is separated between the sleeping area, on the main level, and an office and seating area raised a few steps. Between the ports along on both sides and the cockpit door, the owners can lie in bed and enjoy the vistas. While you can’t see it in the photo, the seating area (on the port side of the yacht and to right in the image) can pull out to a lounge for naps.


This is a better view of the raised portion of the owner’s suite, with the office area to starboard. One of the nicest things about the suite, whether the owners are still sleeping or enjoying the settee/napping area, is that it is completely private and out of sight of neighboring yachts and/or dockwalkers when Pumula is in port. The three crewmembers and the captain can further go about their work outside without disturbing the owners, as the cozy deckhouse is ringed by wide side decks, and it’s at about mid-shin height when they’re standing on deck.


Pumula’s owners like the bimini over the cockpit and can keep the area open on four sides, ideal for warm-weather destinations visited so far, like the Caribbean, and ones yet to come, like the South Pacific. The cockpit can also be enclosed with isinglass panels, something that was done while in Norway. Whether Pumula is in hot or cold climates, though, the owners’ cockpit is an ideal place for everything from breakfast to brainstorming the next place to point the bow. Pumula’s lifting keel means draft ranges from 9’8″ to 16’4″ (3 to 5 meters, respectively), letting her access areas that other sailing yachts can’t.


With a sail plan of 8,439 square feet (784 square meters), impressive custom refrigeration and freezer spaces that can store food for weeks at a time, and a crew who look forward to spending the next several years with the owners and speak about them as if they were family, Pumula certainly puts the “pleasure” in “pleasure yacht.” She has also done the same for the limited media allowed access so far. Off West Palm Beach, Florida this past weekend, I was among five journalists who cruised aboard. In 14 to 15 knots of wind, Pumula exited the channel and achieved 9.5 to 10 knots as her sails first raised. Within a few minutes, out in the open water, the breeze built to 17 to 18 knots out of the east, and Pumula handily achieved 14 to 15 knots. Her captain says she’s actually topped out at 19 knots, though in “hairy conditions” on her transatlantic crossing.

The latter are anything but the type of conditions one hopes to encounter, of course. But, they are ones the owners and crew alike can feel confident that Pumula can challenge, should they come again during her intrepid voyages. Interesting enough, the idea is closely tied to the project name that Pumula carried, which was Bugamena. While the word doesn’t appear in online translations, Bugamena, according to the yacht’s captain, means someone of great prowess, presence, and strength. While Pumula seems more suitable for a relatively petite and classic-looking cruiser, she is every bit the embodiment of both of her names.

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