From bow-on, the new Ducale 88 from Ocean King might be mistaken for a much larger vessel. The freeboard is unusually high for a yacht and the upper deck’s enclosed hardtop almost looks like a pair of sunglasses squinting back at you because the design is so compact. But the Italian builders and VYD Studio of Venice knew exactly what they were doing with this mini-explorer. They wanted it not only to look tough and seaworthy, but to be able to cross oceans on a steel displacement hull.
The 88 has many unusual design elements for a boat its size. First, the displacement hull has a bulbous bow that adds efficiency over long distances, and its twin 600 hp MAN diesel engines deliver transatlantic range. The yacht has a top speed of 11.5 knots, with a friendly cruise speed of 10 knots.
VYD may have built the forward section of the 88, including closed-in side sections, for rough-water voyages, but the topsides and rear section are definitely all about fun in the sun. The designers incorporated 1,700 square feet of open deck space across the bridge deck, with even more open space down near the swim platform. The enclosed forward portion of the hardtop provides protection in wind and rain, but its open rear means that owners and guests can either lounge in the sun or take their meals alfresco.
Yachts this size almost always present a quandary about where to store the tender, either up on the top deck or in a garage. The clever stair-step design on the swim platform keeps the tender and a jet ski just feet away from the water, so the owners can launch and retrieve with minimal fuss.
The interior has a large saloon and dining area aft on the main deck, with a full-beam master suite forward. On the deck below are four twin staterooms. At the stern are two cabins for the crew (an unusually high number for a yacht this size). The mini-explorer-yacht field has become a crowded place over the last five years, as the more adventurous yachties want to be able to explore in distant areas without compromising on comfort. The new Ducale 88 is a welcome addition to the explorer-yacht pack, mostly because it has taken a fresh look at the possibilities the design can offer.