5 top tips for custom yacht design

Written by Georgia Tindale

So, you’ve decided that the superyacht lifestyle is the one for you. You are determined to take the plunge and design your dream vessel from scratch: your very own custom yacht. 

However, when you actually contemplate making a start on this process, it is safe to say that there is a huge amount to think through and numerous factors to take into account. So many, in fact, that the idea of designing a custom yacht could seem a little intimidating to the uninitiated. To help out, the experts from the Dutch naval architecture and design studio, Diana Yacht Design, have harnessed their wealth of experience and offer their insights on the most important considerations to take into account for custom yacht design.

As Diana Yacht Design sees it, to reach the yacht of your dreams, you need to take into account how you are actually going to use your vessel once you’re on the water and identify what your expectations are before you begin. Having spent time on other people’s boats will also be beneficial, as you can think about what you really enjoyed, what you found less enjoyable, and what your most memorable experiences were when you were on board. By identifying your expectations before you begin the process of designing a custom-build, this will help you to make your perfect yacht into a reality and bring your dream to life. Attessa IV yacht cruisingPhoto: Attessa IV

1.     How and when are you going to use your yacht?

First and foremost, it is vital that you design and build a yacht which can fulfill all of your needs and expectations. For this to be the case, the layout of the vessel is paramount. It is key that you consider your personality and how you can best maximise the pleasure you get out of your superyacht. Are you an indoor person or an outdoor person? If the answer is ‘an indoor person’,  make sure you have room for amenities such as an indoor cinema, a games or karaoke room, and allow plenty of space for you to let loose and enjoy parties with your nearest and dearest.

Alternatively, if your answer is ‘I am an outdoor person’, you might prefer to have a large swim platform for easy access to the water, or a generous outdoor dining area so you can keep an eye on your children as they make the most of their time on the water. Of course, it doesn’t have to be an ‘either/or’: when it comes to layout, it is all about combining functionality with fun to ensure that you have the best possible experience on board. 

Finally, as one of the most important expectations associated with building and designing a yacht, you also need to take into account when you want to have your new-build yacht ready. Of course, you can never predict exactly what will happen during a custom build, but having an end goal in mind (do you want it finished before your birthday, or for an annual family holiday?) can be a helpful motivating factor for everyone involved.Diana Yacht Design - MarketingPhoto: Tom van Oossanen2.     Where do you want to cruise or sail?

It almost goes without saying that for many who are in the process of deciding whether they want to build a superyacht, it is the pull of travelling to exotic destinations that finally convinces them to take that step. However, deciding whether you want to speed through the crystal-clear seas of the Mediterranean or create unforgettable memories exploring in Antarctica will have a major impact on both the design and the necessary capabilities of your vessel.

If it’s classic Caribbean cruising which you are after, you will require a vessel with a shallow draft to access some of the best hotspots. At the other extreme, if you are looking to take an Antarctic adventure, you will need a yacht with serious endurance. Indeed, with an increasing number of clients demanding yachts with long-distance capabilities, this has led to an increase in explorer vessels equipped with both a long range and strong hull that can withstand even the worst of storms. 

Notably, too, it is important to consider the duration of time for which you will be travelling - whether that be a few weeks or a round-the-world cruise - as this will affect how much storage space you will need, especially if you will be spending time in remote destinations in which you will not have easy access to supplies. There are so many factors to take into account, including everyday considerations such as heating and air-conditioning (which would need to be adjusted depending on the chosen destination).Diana Yacht Design - MarketingPhoto: Verkerk 3.  Who will be joining you on your cruise? 

For plenty of owners, part of the magic of owning a superyacht is about escaping from the stresses and pressures of everyday life and spending quality time on the water with those that matter the most to them, whether that be friends or family.

However, there are a wide variety of possible set-ups available for owners, whether they choose to keep their yacht as a private place exclusively for family, decide to use the yacht as their second home, or utilize it as a venue for their business activities. The spatial configuration of the vessel will also be affected: if the boat is being used for formal business meetings, office space will be required, as well as a small conference room or meeting area. 

Deciding that you will charter your custom yacht also brings with it additional considerations, since charter yachts are subject to additional regulations, with more escape routes and crew amenities required. You will also need to have more facilities in order to maintain the yacht in top condition, as well as more space for linen and laundry. 

If maintaining a clear separation between family and guests is required, this will also significantly affect how you want to lay out your vessel - which brings us neatly onto the next, key factor for any yacht owner: crew.
Diana Yacht Design - MarketingPhoto: Robbie Bobby4. Keeping crew happy 

The relationship with your crew has major implications for how you want your vessel to be configured, whether you want them to be present and an active part of family life, or would feel more relaxed by seeing them as little as possible. If a real separation is desired, you will need to factor in dedicated service routes with double stairs and double boardwalks accommodated for. If not, this space can be utilised for extra storage or provide an additional room for crew.

As is well known, the work of superyacht crew involves long hours and can be high pressure when demanding owners are taken into consideration, so having some private space where crewmembers can relax, work out and socialise is key to creating a happy working environment on board. 

With this in mind, if you want a clear separation on board, you will need to take into account this extra, private space for crew - whether this takes the form of an outdoor seating area, a gym or a relaxation space - and factor this into your design from the start. In summary, it is definitely worth considering these details within the layout of your vessel as this will make your crew’s life easier and your onboard experience so much more enjoyable. As they say, a happy crew makes for a happy owner.
Yacht crew in actionPhoto: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht Times5. Tenders, toys and technology

If you enjoy watersports or if you have older children, there is no doubt that your vessel will need to be equipped with plenty of tenders and toys. Similarly, if you are looking to charter your yacht, your clients will expect to have a variety of water toys and tenders at their disposal, often preferring to have access to the largest tenders possible.

Think about what is essential for you to have on board for your maximum enjoyment: jet skis, tenders, a dive store, a submarine, Sea-Doos, water skis, wakeboards... the possibilities are endless! Storing the toys and tenders will also affect the layout of your vessel, so this is certainly worth thinking about. Do you want to build in a dedicated garage so that the crew can easily clean and maintain the tenders, or will you decide to store them on the deck so that you have more interior space left, only putting the boats in the water when you require them (such as when you arrive in a bay)?

Diana Yacht Design - MarketingPhoto: Conrad ShipyardFinally, an increasing number of owners are now factoring in multi-purpose spaces into the layouts of their vessels such as laboratories, which can be used by marine biologists for conducting important oceanic research on board. Furthermore, it is worth noting that for the next generation of owners - sometimes called ‘millennials’ - yacht ownership needs to be both future proof and sustainable. New technologies are being developed all the time, so it is important to have the built in flexibility in your vessel to easily add batteries or alternative propulsion systems in the future. This will ensure that your custom yacht continues to keep its value in the years to come.
Diana Yacht Design - MarketingPhoto: Tom van Oossanen / Hakvoort ShipyardTo find out more about Diana Yacht Design and the services they provide, contact the company directly using the details below.



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