Past, Present, Passion

This very modern superyacht has a story steeped in history that begins with british superyachts built in a bygone era.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
This very modern superyacht has a story steeped in history that begins with british superyachts built in a bygone era.
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TO UNDERSTAND WHY someone in this modern day and age would build a yacht that harks back to yesteryear, you have to first look at the yacht Ocean Glory.

Built in Glasgow in 1935 on the slipways of Yarrow and Company, she was rescued from certain oblivion by the Italian businessman Alberto Amico whose family-owned ship repair and refit yard is based in Italy.

Making her subject of a major rebuilding programme, after her completion she became a living, sailing advertisement for the talents of his Genoa-based shipyard. Maintaining a classic yacht, however, is not easy or at times, financially rewarding. Thus, Alberto put her to work as a charter yacht so that she could earn her keep.

Marco Santoro was the yacht’s Captain and, rather unusually, also the Chef. He ran the yacht for Amico with a crew of four – one of which was Wioletta, the only girl crew member on board and who later became his wife. Together they made a good team and in doing so, attracted many repeat charter guests.

One of these was a German gentlemen who, like everyone else who chartered such a beautiful old yacht, had a love of the classic lines bestowed only upon old yachts.

Each year the German gentleman and Captain Marco would, as sailors do, talk about the yachts of years gone by bemoaning the fact that they simply do not build them the way they used to.

“It’s perhaps obvious really,” says Captain Marco, as we stand on the after deck of the brand new 39-metre Rossinavi yacht Taransay. “Times have changed, technology has improved matters and yachts are generally now not confined to being thin, narrow-beamed vessels that never allowed for spacious on board accommodation.”

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He is leading up to the part in the story when, after years of searching for an old yacht suitable for rebuilding, the German gentleman turned to Marco and said, “If we can’t find an old one, let’s build a new one.”

“It was,” says Captain Marco, “a turning point that has led to the building of Taransay at Rossinavi in Italy.”

She may look old and even fool some into believing she is a rebuilt classic yacht but Taransay is, from the keel up to the truck of her foremast, a brand-new yacht completed in 2015 to the exterior and interior design of the studio Tassin Design.

Based on drawings and data found in a museum in Aberdeen, Scotland, the yacht is a modern-day version of an actual vessel dating back to the early 20th Century.

Built in the 1930s the original Taransay, of which there is now no trace, was commandeered for use in the Second World War by the British Royal Navy, which employed her as a firefighting ship. While designers worked hard throughout her design and build to remain largely true to her original composition, the new yacht makes generous concessions to the world of today. She is, for example, beamier than ever she would have been back then.

During the build period, no detail was too small to notice or receive attention from Rossinavi, which sought always to remain as truthful to the original design as possible.

This was not always the easiest of routes to take – many materials and pieces of everyday equipment that were readily available in the 1930s were now difficult if not near on impossible to find.

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Back then, yachts did not have stainless steel stanchions or door furniture made of brushed aluminium. Instead it was bronze copper nickel and nibral that were the order of the day. Finding anyone making or even selling the latter became one of the most difficult of all the tasks the shipyard encountered.

In fact no one was quite sure of the correct mix of bronze, aluminium and nickel used to make nibral back then. They persevered and finally, hours of research paid off and the material used for much of the metal work was pinned down and produced in a foundry that matched the demands of the shipbuilder.

This didn’t phase the Rossinavi team, however. “If the material or the specific object is already on the market, that is all the better. If not, it was made by us and we never compromise when it comes to seeking authenticity.”

As the owner suggests, “It was like having the best tailor-made historical costume, made especially for me using the rarest and richest of fabrics.”

Captain Marco became the Owner’s project manager and stayed with the yacht throughout her build to monitor deviations from the original design.

“Of course we have had to make compromises. We want to run the yacht with a crew of seven not 27, so we must use electric cranes in place of rope hung davits but that does not mean we should make that crane visible all the time. Instead we have installed a hydraulic crane that can fold away and disappear from sight and become part of the yachts funnel or smoke stack when not in use.”

This means the eye is not jarred when looking upon the yacht, which after all has been conceived to be a thing of great beauty. The crane when unfolded from inside the funnel can handle a tender of around five or so metres.

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To keep up the appearance, the yacht still appears to be using davits. These are incorporated into the design but instead of launching tenders, they are now used as deck lights and securing points for the yacht’s awnings and even act as housings for the on-deck loud speakers.

Taransay accommodates up to 10 guests in five luxurious cabins located on the lower deck. The spacious Owner’s suite, the double-bed VIP cabin and the three twin cabins are decorated in a classic interior style that mimics the yacht’s overall design.

Rich, dark woods are used throughout, and when set against the crisp white linen and the palette of blues used to add colour it is representative of a time gone by when luxury was a byword for grand.

Overall the interior is reminiscent of the finest of gentlemen yacht clubs. Her interior is as timeless and luxurious as you would expect from a yacht of her period. It features cream and blue accessories and upholstery that wonderfully offset and complement the dark brown colourings of the richly grained wood. Somehow, and we are not sure how, she almost smells old.

Elegance exudes from the living areas on her main deck. Autumnal shades of reds, browns, oranges and greens dominate the main saloon, bold tapestry prints give the room a welcoming character, while creating an ideal space for relaxation and socialising.

The formal dining area is right forward, its large table placed centrally in a room dedicated to feasting. Three windows flank each side, with a further two smaller windows forward, allowing guests to enjoy spectacular views and natural light whilst maintaining privacy.

Elsewhere large sofas, comfortable armchairs and vintage wooden chests enhance the club-like feel. It would be easy just to describe the yacht in terms of décor and say it has a 1930s feel about her. But that would not do justice to what has been achieved with the creation of Taransay.

Take, for example, the deckheads. On an ordinary yacht built today, there would be no talk of camber. On board this yacht the ceilings are cambered, overly complicated to construct, featuring a web of beams on two levels both longitudinal and transversal and yet they must still meet up with and match a series of frames running all around the cabin’s perimeter.

“It’s been a rather complex process, building wise,” says Filippo Ceragioli at Rossinavi. “We had to study the way it had been done in the past and then persuade carpenters, to create and divide the perimeter frame sections so that they could join the beams and be fixed onto the structural supports that matched the cambering.”

Another area where history had to be recreated was in the finish of the wood.

“The Owner had originally sourced and provided several samples of mahogany and ash woods from the period that he said would define the correct shade of colour we had to create to meet his taste. Looking at the patina, we realised we could not recreate this effect with just mere varnish – that would have made the surface look far too contemporary.

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“We had to find a way to give the surface that warm feel that a spray gun just cannot achieve. So we decided to apply the first two coats using a spray gun and then the final ones were brush finished, with the historically correct bristles and the right amount of varnish, not to overemphasise it.”

The dark, shiny painted hull perfectly reflects the style, if not the shape of the 1930s original designed by G.L. Watson. The team that designed and built the 2015 version worked on plans drawn by the Liverpool-based design company, adjusting the lines to improve the way the new boat lies in the water and having done so found that it has reduced her inclination to list dramatically.

Noise and vibration insulation have been greatly improved on what would have been normal in 1930. Floating decks and silent blocks reduce noise, the modern-day thinking in layout affecting decisions, such as placing the bathroom of the Owner’s cabin forward, between the cabin and the engine room.

Other modern interpretations have been necessary in order for the new boat to comply with regulations yet still maintain the appearance of a later-day classic.

“The original pilothouse was in wood, but to make it comply with MCA rules we built in aluminium and covered it with teak plate,” says Captain Marco.

Powered by twin 599kW Caterpillar C-18 engines, and reaching a top speed of 14 knots, a cruising speed of 12 knots and a range of 3,500 nautical miles at 9.5 knots, Taransay’s looks can be very deceiving.

She has in essence achieved everything she set out to do – deliver yesterday’s yacht with today’s passion and reliability.

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