Capacity and practicality are key, both for the owner in terms of enjoyment and for the crew when it comes to operation. In terms of the Damen Yacht Support range, this means large deck space providing storage away from the mother yacht for a multitude of craft such as various RIBs, limousine tenders for transfers to the marina, day boats for exploring the coast, wakeboats, dive tenders, fishing craft, beach landers, sailboats, plus lots of jetskis for the whole family. Submersibles and underwater adventure are increasingly popular and the design of the Yacht Support is also suited to large dive centres with trimix dive facilities. And it doesn’t just have to be water related. Snowmobiles, 4-wheel drive vehicles, light aircraft or seaplanes are amongst the popular choice of additional transport modes to carry on board.
With such tenders, toys and cargo on board, crew need the assurance of expert and professional handling. The Yacht Support delivers just that with heavy duty lifting gear and control systems. Features such as the A-frame launch and retrieval system enable safe and controlled lowering into the sea and positioning on deck whilst the high performance knuckle-boom crane is a workhorse unmatched on any conventional yacht. “We call them toys, but at this level we’re really talking about heavy pieces of machinery that need to be transported and deployed safely and professionally in a variety of conditions,” says Mark Vermeulen, Product and Development Director.
Helicopters are a major attraction for superyacht support, and create much less disruption on the mother yacht. The Yacht Support provides a personal airfield wherever you are in the world with the option of a dedicated hangar and below deck fuel station. “Helicopters are getting bigger and bigger and they tend to have a longer prep time. They sit on deck with motors running and the pilots are plugging in routes. If that’s happening on your yacht, and you’re trying to have a cocktail, the noise is quite annoying. Another thing you’ll find is that it pulls the crew away from the rest of their tasks. So having it on a Yacht Support, it’s a totally separate environment. Landing and taking off is easy, it’s safe, it’s got the right crew and the right amenities. So your yacht can carry on running as you like it,” explains Kenan Seginer, helicopter pilot and superyacht captain.
It’s not all about the toys. More gear needs more people and the Yacht Support has been designed with this in mind with the space and facilities to carry the extra staff needed to operate it all, for example, submarine pilots, helicopter pilots, dive and expedition guides, deckhands. In addition, a Yacht Support can be used to accommodate staff that owners want nearby, but not on their yacht, such as security teams and executive staff.
Another purpose is to carry provisions, refrigerated goods, china, laundry and luggage, spare parts – all necessary when yachts are heading off the beaten track where there is little infrastructure. Few conventional yachts have the space to store so many provisions. And importantly, the support yacht also stores all the mother yacht’s garbage in cooled chillers and the waste water in large tanks. This is important and also required in many zero-discharge zones so that destinations are left as pristine as they were found.
It is the flexibility and capacity which makes the Damen Yacht Support so unique. The onboard facilities allow the adventure further afield with more provisions, more staff, more tools in place to deliver maximum enjoyment once there. The autonomy the range offers opens up a world of opportunities and discovery. The practicalities ensure a smoother, safer and more extensive operation. It’s very difficult and costly to achieve the same capability in one luxury yacht, which is constrained by exterior design considerations. The combination of a luxury yacht and a support yacht is a much lower total cost of ownership and is what Damen refers to as ‘the Smart Stretch’. It is far more economically viable to add a yacht support vessel than it is to upgrade a 50m superyacht for example to a 90m for the capability to accommodate additional needs and requirements in terms of supplies and equipment. Adding a Yacht Support is a logical extension of an owner’s existing fleet and offers owners more versatility.