My First Feadship: Immerse Yourself in the Experience

This article has previously been published in the 20th edition of PILOT.

As the old saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. Think back to when you learned to ride a bicycle, for example. As much as you may have envisioned yourself riding all over your neighbourhood, you probably needed your mom’s or dad’s helping hand initially to keep the bike upright. Soon enough, though, you were on your own, enjoying the thrill of the ride. You might have even started eyeing that super-cool new bicycle at the local shop before too long. 

So, what does riding a bicycle have to do with commissioning a custom superyacht from Feadship? Actually, there are similarities – and not just the fact that dozens of Feadship’s craftspeople ride bicycles to work every day. Just as you don’t hop on a bicycle and immediately start riding, you don’t simply say, ‘I want a yacht’ and show up on delivery day. By the same token, though, figuring out what to do needn’t be overwhelming. Just as your parents lent a helping hand, Feadship’s team is there to listen, learn, and advise. A final similarity: Once you begin, participation is incredibly fulfilling. In fact, when it comes to a yacht, personally sharing your ideas, seeing them come to fruition, and getting to know Feadship’s principals are a few of the rewards.

Just ask the owner of the 78.5-metre Hampshire II. He already knew some things to expect when he commissioned the yacht – his first custom superyacht, at that. But he also learned some things along the way, as did the Feadship team. You can learn some lessons, too, from his collaborative experience – and it truly was collaborative. Ultimately, Feadship’s representatives were “delightful” to work with, and “it was very rewarding engaging in the process,” he states. 


The owner was partly inspired to build with Feadship due to buying one of its yachts on the brokerage market. She was Barbara Jean, a 56.5-metre from 2001, which he rechristened Hampshire. After about a year of cruising aboard, “I could see ways to perhaps make it a little better,” he recalls, referring to the ownership and cruising experience. Given her length and year of build, for example, Hampshire didn’t have room aft for toys. She also couldn’t accommodate luxuries like a dedicated cinema, a gym, and a beach club without compromising existing spaces.

It’s amenities like these that ultimately drove the decision to make the size she is. In fact, the owner emphasises, when it comes to commissioning a new build, “It starts with your definition of what you require, versus a length.” Having owned Hampshire, “I had a reasonably good idea of what I wanted.”

“I wanted something that was elegant, classical, with a long design line that would look nice on the eye for a long time,”

Of paramount importance, relaxation areas needed to be intimate without being restrictive, yet generous without being enormous. “You can’t carry on a conversation across an aircraft waiting lounge,” he points out. Furthermore, “There’s no point in having four lounges. Three of them you’ll never use.” As for other lifestyle amenities, the owner wanted a beach club for practical purposes. He likes how it allows guests to chat and enjoy a drink right when they get out of the water, and not have to head up several steps to the main deck Hampshire II. has an impressive beach club, with fold-open platforms on three sides. For swimmers’ ease, a ladder lowers hydraulically from the swim platform. Plus, a driftwood-style decor lends the lounging area a casual, comfortable ease.

Still on the subject of practical spaces, the client knew he needed good crew’s quarters. “You want a cheerful crew,” he says. “It’s quite important when you get on the boat to see some smiling faces.” With a fourteen-guest capacity, Hampshire II has a 21-person-strong crew. They, along with two staff, have fourteen cabins. 


As you would expect, the exterior look of Hampshire II was just as important to the owner as the operations were. “I wanted something that was elegant, classical, with a long design line that would look nice on the eye for a long time,” he explains. “If you build something that’s too modern, it’s nice for a short period of time, but then it can look a bit dated or tired.” That’s not to say, however, that he believes a contemporary shape or two would look out of place amid more traditional shapes. Nor, for that matter, does Hampshire II replicate old-fashioned cruisers from bow to stern and top to bottom. “There’s the odd modern twist; there’s nothing wrong with that in a more classical design,” the owner says.

Due to her 78.5-metre length, Hampshire II could have looked quite imposing, perhaps even overwhelming. The owner was quite conscious of avoiding this. In fact, he says, some large superyachts seem to focus too much on their length. “They look quite cumbersome and overweight,” he explains. “It looks a bit like a wedding cake, cramming too many decks in. I wanted something that was relatively sleek and slender, because it looks more elegant. We decided to go for something more like a 70-metre superstructure on an 80-metre hull.” 

The owner says this idea was a big topic of discussion right from the start of his meetings with Feadship. In fact, it was important for the initial drawings to capture the essence. “That was at the forefront of the design philosophy,” he says. “I don’t want a short, fat boat,” he laughs. “When you arrive at the boat, whether in a RIB or a tender, or it’s parked out in the bay, it’s pleasing to the eye.” 


Of course, some things that the owner wanted for his new yacht, delivered in 2012, sprang purely from his imagination. “I wanted things that Feadship hadn’t tackled before,” he explains. “To Feadship’s credit, they always had a ‘glass half full’ attitude. They always tried to achieve what I was asking for.” It makes sense that the yard rose to the occasion. 

“It’s a custom boat at the end of the day,” he says. “Just because it’s different doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it on as a challenge. That’s why I say ‘to Feadship’s credit.’ They always had a go at it. One or two things they did have to say no to, but in the majority of cases, they found ways to incorporate new stuff.” 

On his wish list: a crow’s nest with an elevator, a working fireplace in the dining room, a guest-friendly walkway through the engine room, and a glass partition in the hull through which he and his guests could watch sea life swim by. The crow’s nest, by the way, is 25 metres high. As for the unusual engine-room corridor, it has full-height glass walls, plus plentiful stainless steel and spotlights. These, along with extra sound insulation and safety measures devised by Feadship, let guests enjoy the goings-on while Hampshire II is underway. As for the fireplace and hull glass, Feadship’s in-house naval architects and engineers examined structural solutions that would please both client and classification society. 

Besides discovering these creative features were possible, the owner learned an important general lesson. “The design process is a continuous process of refinement,” he says. In other words, the work of the naval architects and interior designers (RWD, in the case of Hampshire II) doesn’t stop with the first drawings. Rather, “Hampshire II was a five-year process from start to finish,” he says. “It wasn’t a one-year design and a four-year build. It’s more like a three-and-a-half-year design and a one-year build, and six months to finish it off.” While the big details like the superstructure shape and hull form are set early on, he explains, the finer details for the interior require the most fine-tuning. 

“To Feadship’s credit, they always had a ‘glass half full’ attitude. They always tried to achieve what I was asking for.”


If you’re fine-tuning your initial vision for your Feadship, Hampshire II’s owner has some sage advice. First, he says, “Don’t build a new one until you’ve spent a bit of time on one. You get a sense of how you use it and what’s important.” 

His experience owning Hampshire taught him what to do as much as what not to do with . “You get a sense of whether a cinema is important. Do you want a beach club? Do you want a swimming pool on the boat? Some people like swimming pools on boats. I don’t, because I’d rather swim in the sea. Do you want seats in the bridge so you can spend some time chatting to the captain, or are you never going to go in the bridge?” 

Another reason to spend time aboard a yacht: “Otherwise you make mistakes that are quite difficult to correct, and expensive to correct,” he says. He recalls the day when the owner of a yacht adjacent to Hampshire II came by to see her. That owner was struck by how generous the ceiling heights were in comparison to those aboard his yacht. Unfortunately, it was too late to do anything about them. 

Finally, when it comes to Feadship, the owner says, “it’s quite a long process to build a boat, and it can be quite fun. The Feadship people are delightful to spend time with and work with together.”

While you might prefer your representatives pay visits during construction, “I think you miss out on quite a lot, really. It’s a fun process to be involved in. Designing, observing it being built, meeting some of the characters involved in building it, all of that.” Besides, particularly with the craftspeople, “They get as much fun out of it as we do. They get their sense of achievement. And they do some astonishing work.” The most obvious benefit of Feadship’s custom approach is “you get what you want”, he concludes. “There are no real compromises.”