Past, present and future: the refit of the Feadship Serena

It was a beautiful summer’s day on 15 July 1964 when hull 583, one of the legendary Caravelle series, was christened Serena at the De Vries yard in Aalsmeer. When this 22.50m (73’10”) motoryacht will be relaunched in 2010 after an extensive refit, she will be better than new, benefiting from the experience accrued by De Vries and Feadship over the past 45 years as well as the seismic shifts in technological equipment. Yet, while honoring the classic looks of the past and the know-how of the present, the rebuilt Serena will also impact the future, as she is part of a unique project to train the next generation of craftsmen and women.

A total of seven Caravelles were launched between August 1961 and October 1965, all built by De Vries, designed by De Voogt Naval Architects and with an interior and exterior styling from Carlo Riva and Giorgio Barilani. These fast steel motoryachts were one of three different custom-series vessels created in partnership with Riva, who owned an ultra-modern yard in Sarnico, Italy.

Both his astonishing eye for fine detail and his flair for marketing had a profound impact on the way Feadship operated at a crucial time in the brand’s development. In short, Carlo Riva dared to be different and taught Feadship the value of trial and error and taking on new challenges.

The Atlantic (26.50m/86’92”), Viking (35.25m/115’62”) and Caravelle models all sold well on the international market, with the latter being the most popular. The publicity generated by beer magnate Freddie Heineken buying the second Caravelle on the spot after seeing her sailing up the Amstel River for the 1962 HISWA boat show certainly helped.

Serena too was exhibited in the Amsterdam RAI two years later before being delivered to her delighted owner. Forty-five years later, Serena has returned home under her current name Alcor and will return to her launch name upon completion of the refit.

The project is being carried out by De Vries Makkum in cooperation with students and their teachers. Schools in the surrounding areas have reacted with enormous enthusiasm and comakers have been hugely cooperative in developing the concept. “There are two reasons that we have decided to approach the refit in this way,” says Sijbrand de Vries, general director De Vries Makkum. “Firstly, it is an excellent way to train young people in a way that prepares them for working later on the far larger luxury yachts that Feadship builds today. Secondly, considering the historical importance of Serena, which was built by the grandfathers of the present directors at De Vries, this is a prestigious project for all concerned.”

With the exception of the wheelhouse, the entire interior will be removed and replaced by a new design for a luxury interior. “This customized design by De Vries Makkum is called ‘Homage to Carlo Riva’ and will accommodate seven guests and three crew members,” adds Sijbrand. “Combining many elements contemporary to the era in which Serena was first created with modern touches, the interior will incorporate marbles, hardwood finishes, leathers and much more besides.”

On the technical side, the refit will also include the installation of a complete new engine room with new engines and generators from Lugger/Northern Lights. A new NR Koeling airconditioning installation will also be fitted along with a new watermaker from Idromar. All of Serena‘s piping and pumps will be either replaced or refitted. The entire engine room will be state-of-the-art insulated by Kerofen.

Another major task will be to replace all the electrics in the yacht. New wiring, distribution, lights, sockets and battery packs will be installed. The new electrical system will be state-of-the-art, including a large battery bank that dispensed with the need to run generators during the night.

Serena will be fully stripped and sandblasted down to the bare metal. Her hull will be faired and repainted, and the entire interior will have a new paint job. The teak decks will be removed and re-laid with fresh wood. The forward area of the superstructure will be restored to its original layout, with smaller windows and a seating area.

The yacht will be ready for the owner in July of 2010. The maiden trip of the Serena will, most probably, be in Scandinavia.

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