Best of the Best 2008: Charter Yachts

  • Austal Outback
  • Photograph by Joel Barbitta
    Austal Outback Photograph by Joel Barbitta
  • Hanseatic Marine Silver
  • Benetti Diane
  • Photograph by Joel Barbitta
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Go-anywhere, do-anything, expedition-style motor yachts are available for charter, but few cruise beyond the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas. An exception is the 111-foot Alloy VvS1 (Fraser Yachts Worldwide, 954.463.0600, www.fraser?yachts.com), which you can charter in South Pacific locales such as Tahiti, Tonga, and New Zealand.

The vessel, named for the diamond-industry term meaning "nearly flawless," is outfitted to make the most of such remote areas. It carries scuba and fishing equipment, kayaks, water skis, wakeboards, and a rugged 21.5-foot Protector tender. Onboard amenities include a gymnasium and a large teppanyaki bar on the sundeck. The decor of the interior is contemporary, with bamboo-plank floors that contribute to an open, airy feeling. The boat, which charters for a base price of $79,000 per week, can accommodate as many as eight guests.

The Austal shipyard in Western Australia builds a number of ferries, combat vessels, and patrol boats. Predictably, its 193-foot, fiberglass-composite Austal Outback (Edmiston & Co., +44.20.7495.5151, www.edmiston?company.com) is a sturdy craft and fast as well, with a top speed of 23 mph.

The yacht will please active charterers with its scuba gear, fishing equipment, underwater scooters, Jet Skis, surfboards, water skis, wakeboards, and on-land motor scooters. Outback also has a gymnasium with rowing and running machines, an on-deck hot tub, an outdoor teppanyaki bar, and a helipad. Wi-Fi is available throughout the vessel, and Quantum ZeroSpeed stabilizers keep it stable at sea and in port.

Outback’s six cabins hold as many as 12 charter guests. The yacht cruises the Mediterranean during the summer and the Caribbean during the winter, at a base rate of $375,000 per week.

The 240-foot Hanseatic Marine Silver (Burgess Yachts, +44.20.7766.4300, www?.burgessyachts.com; Edmiston & Co., +44.?20.?7495.5151, www.edmistoncompany?.com; YCO, +377.93.50.12.12, www?.yco?yacht.com) offers luxury, comfort, and fuel efficiency. The yacht, the world’s longest private aluminum vessel, is very light for her size and has an aerodynamic design (her beam measures only 32 feet). As a result, she consumes only 130 gallons of fuel per hour, quite an impressive number for a 200-plus-foot vessel that can reach 21 mph.

Venerated designer Espen Øino lent his skills to the build, the first from Hanseatic Marine in Western Australia. Silver’s Swiss owner created Hanseatic specifically for this project; experts at the nearby Austal and Oceanfast shipyards assisted with the yacht’s design and construction. Silver will cruise the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean initially, but the owner, who manages her, expects to offer charters in the Caribbean and elsewhere eventually. The yacht, which has a weekly base rate of about $700,000, can accommodate 14 guests and 16 crew.

The fully custom, 141-foot Benetti Diane (Camper & Nicholsons International, 954.524.4250, www.cnconnect.com) has a surprisingly spacious interior. The master suite on the main deck, for example, spans the craft’s full 29-foot beam. Designer François Zuretti has used neutral and warm colors and incorporated unusual design details such as a hexagon-shaped hot tub on the top deck.

The vessel cruises the western and eastern Mediterranean at a rate of about $250,000 per week. She holds as many as 10 guests and eight crew.

The 121-foot Sunseeker M4 (Sunseeker Charters, +44.1202.682890, www?.sunseeker?char?ters?.net), the second launch in the British boatbuilder’s 37-meter series, is owned by a Mexican businessman who plans to cruise the Mexican Riviera. As a result, unlike hull number one (last year’s Best of the Best honoree Snapper), M4 is available for charter in waters outside of Europe. With a base rate of $143,500 per week, the $20 million yacht has entered the charter market as one of the priciest in her size range.

This voluminous vessel, which can accommodate as many as 12 guests, has the kind of salon you might find in a 140-footer. The seating there includes two oversize sofas and four large chairs, enough room for everyone in a charter party. The guest cabins seem more spacious than those in similarly sized yachts, thanks partly to large, oval windows that let in far more light than portholes do. The master suite, which spans two levels, includes a dressing area and a bathroom with a waterproof television. An extra sleeping area is available in the skylounge, which has a full bathroom and holds a sofa that converts to a bed.

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