About a decade ago, a California entrepreneur took delivery of a 170-foot Feadship and named her Rasselas, after the 18th-century novella by Samuel Johnson. In this frothy morality tale, Rasselas, an Abyssinian prince, leaves home seeking happiness, which by the story’s end he discovers is found in the journey rather than the destination.
The first Rasselas had a traditional appearance that covered marvelous technological underpinnings. But in the decade after the boat was built, equipment and building methods continued to improve, prompting the owner to order a new Feadship to exploit these advances.
Although it is 33 feet longer than the original, the Rasselas of 2005 has the same number of cabins. The extra length does not add more passenger accommodations, but it enhances the boat’s profile by extending the bow and stern, and, together with added beam, provides enough space for a large custom tender made by Vikal of Australia.
The updated technology includes a ducted air-conditioning system that replaces the original yacht’s wall-mounted cooling units and fans. Coupled with a construction method that positions the rooms away from the yacht’s frames, this ventilation technique reduces decibel levels to a remarkable 42 to 44 dB range, even in guest staterooms.
Although Feadship yachts are known for having the highest ceiling heights in the industry, they still are dwarfish compared to residential standards. Yet by adjusting the miles of ducting, electrical conduits, and piping that run through the yacht’s between-deck spaces, De Voogt Naval Architects was able to carve out even more height for inverted tray ceilings with mahogany beams. Complementing the ceilings’ elegant appearance is the interior joinery, a masterwork of satin-finish mahogany with ash marquetry and madrone burl inlaid panels. The main salon and sky lounge include real fireplaces with stone surrounds, and in the formal dining room Baccarat crystal sparkles from bowed breakfronts. On a wall near the crystal hangs a Pieter Faes still life, from the same period as the novella that gave the yacht its name.
As for that novella’s message, Rasselas itself seems to prove the writer’s point.