Sometimes it is really hard to cope with all the efforts and the difficulties one has to battle and overcome in order to make a shipyard running succesfully in a serene environment and with the satisfaction of all the parties involved. Sometimes it is also very difficult to make the ones surrounding you outside the yard understanding why you do this, and why you sacrifice so much of your life for it.
And then... you launch one of your yachts.
The owner hugs his family in great excitement.
He shakes your hand and thanks you even before he hears you thanking him.
You would like to say many more words to him, but this is a moment of emotions.
And everything becomes clearer. To you. And to the others.
You see the owner and his family and friends getting emotional when the horn blows and the keel touches its natural element for the first time. You see your friends looking at you with their face showing that smile, which you know very well, and it means "good job, mate, now let's toast at it". You see your colleagues looking for each other with their eyes to share for a second that moment which is the result of 18 months of joint efforts.
But what is more important for me (and I think for the great majority of us) is to see that your family gathers around you and forgives you for all those absences.
This CdM experience is all about the launch of the stunning Stella del Nord, our latest Darwin Class 86' (first of the Darwin 2.0 line hitting the water). There is no way that words will replace adequately the emotions of a launch, but this is the best we can do in order for you to share with us such an important moment of our lives.
Enjoy the readin!
Ennio, it is only 5 years since you started up CdM with a Darwin 86 which has soon become a milestone
for the industry in your segment of market. Tell us about your feelings now that you have christened the 4th darwin
86 after MM/YY Vitadimare 3, Percheron and Granil.
It is very difficult for me to explain this. Every launch is different and so emotional for all of us. The night before this launch I had two very clear thoughts in mind and I will try to express them with the simplest words, now. The first thought was about this incredible journey from a big shipyard with empty sheds to a shipyard which is almost to small to fit all the yachts ordered in the last months. We had a clear vision since the beginning, but I have to admit that this is one of those cases where reality overcomes your dreams! Immediately after having thought about our success, the faces of all my staff come to my mind. We are a small yard and I know each and every worker, their families and their stories. It makes me feel so proud and privileged to have such a team backing me up every single day!
CdM has always been characterized by its "boutique approach' to shipbuilding and customer care.
Is this going to remain your philosophy even with such a backlog of orders?
Absolutely yes! The best confirmation of this is the fact that, in spite of the orders, we keep on deliverying max 3 boats per year. As our President Gabriele always says: "we don't want to become bigger and bigger, but better and better!
Explorer Yachts are becoming more and more popular on the market. You have all the advantages
of having been among the real first mover in the segment: we are sure this gives you a good peace of mind
and you can focus only on production not having to think about the product itself.
Unfortunately not. Here at CdM we don't know what means standing still! After the Darwin Class, we introduced the Nauta Air range to the market as the first Explorer Line of Yachts with unconventionally elegant and sleek exterior lines (mantaining the Explorer heavy duty soul). We are now already working on the future, also keeping in mind that in the next weeks we could complete the 2017 order book and the next deliveries will be in 2018! Once again, I am sure that CdM will demonstrate that the most important tool to gain shares of the yachting market is the ability to listen to yacht owners, captains and surveyors very carefully and without stopping. Year after year we notice that also in a quite conservative niche like the Explorer one, owners needs change. And our mission is to answer to those needs, always.
You come from the metal carpentry industry, passing through a very important commercial shipbuilding experience:
what you are missing from your past and what you really like of your present at CdM?
It is very difficult to answer. With CdM I think we have created the best merge of the two world possible. We have the pragmatic approach of the commercial shipbuilding industry and the attention to even the most invisible detail as in the best superyachting industry. This, I think, is in fact the secret of our success. Our clients recognize all the best of the heavy industry and all the dedication to his needs of the luxury world. Both worlds are part of his daily life, and both worlds speak a language he know very well.
Stella del Nord is a boat you are quite linked to, is it true?
Definitely yes! I have immediately built a very strong relationship with the owner, who has a very technical and industrial background. I have followed every project management meeting with him, and we have shared many and many thoughts which have brought to technical solutions which are now part of CdM's standards. I really enjoyed it big time and I thank the owner of this special Darwin 86 a lot for this.
Before asking you to tell us about your experience with Cantiere delle Marche during the building of "Stella del Nord",
we'd like you walk us through the steps in your decision-making process that led you to consider CDM and then, to decide to have your
yacht built by the Ancona-based shipbuilder.
We had been doing our research on Explorer yachts for about 15 months, visiting shipyards in Italy and in Northern Europe. Then, when we were in Cannes, in September of 2013, we came across CDM for the first time and had the opportunity to see and tour the "Explorer Darwin 96" on EXPOSITION. We spent roughly 60 minutes on board and were able to have an in-depth discussion with their technical expert about all those aspects that interested us. As I, personally, have a technical background, I must say I was very enthusiastic about this first meeting. I was able to get more information in those 60 minutes than I had in all the previous 15 months' time, including visits to renowned shipbuilders. Just a few months later, we signed the contract.
In these past 18 months, how much of what you've experienced has coincided with your expectations, and what has had
the most positive impact on you vis-á-vis what you had imagined?
As I said, my work experience lies in the industrial sector and I realize that I am person who has an extremely technical approach to things. I have to admit that I have never had such a smooth and constructive experience on other projects, similar in terms of size and complexity. Sharing decisions, feelings, and forging interpersonal relationships over a period of 18 months is no easy task. It is perfectly normal for there to be divergences in the course of the shipbuilding process. I must say that I never had the sensation that anything was being forced on me ... on the contrary.
Today, on the eve of the launch, I can say I am pleasantly surprised by all that I've received from CDM. I can affirm that our "Stella del Nord" carries within her all of the goodwill and professionalism of Cantiere Delle Marche and of all the collaborators who, for 18 months, have committed themselves to the success of the project.
CDM is a shipbuilder that has always distinguished itself through a direct and frank approach to communication, so once again, we'd
like to stay true to course: after this experience, what would you change?
I confess that this question puts me on the spot. I have always encountered extremely open individuals, from the first people I see as I arrive in the shipyard in the morning, to the various technical experts, to the on-board outfitter. I am always made to feel "important" at Cantiere delle Marche and I have never felt that I was lacking for anything at all. For example, since I am busy all day, I always end up calling your chairman after eight in the evening. I have never once felt that I was disturbing him, quite the opposite, I have always felt at ease, like one of the family.
Now that "Stella del Nord" is finally in her natural element and the summer season is fast approaching, it's time to make cruising plans:
what do you have in mind for the summer of 2015?
We expect to leave on Saturday, July 4th and make our first stop in Montenegro to refuel. Then, we'd like to sail towards Greece, continue through the Strait of Messina, so that by August we'll reach Sardinia where we'll meet up with our friends. Later, in September, the "Stella Del Nord" will be on exhibition at the boat show in Cannes. Finally, we plan to return to the Adriatic in October.
With a vessel like "Stella del Nord" it is difficult to set limits as to distances to cover and waters to explore; are there any transoceanic
plans in this splendid yacht's future? Which seas make your heart beat the fastest?
Our dream is to one day cross the Atlantic and go to the Caribbean where we'd like to spend the winter. Our daughter, who lives in the USA, has already "booked a room" on board. We are also thinking about circumnavigating the U.S. and Northern Canada, and are considering other routes, too, maybe in the Pacific.
And now for the most dangerous question ... if you should one day build another yacht, would you do
it again with Cantiere delle Marche? If yes, why?
When we began this adventure, I had no idea that building a steel sea craft would be so complicated, or so thrilling. I reached a compromise with my wife when we decided on the length [of this one]. Already, I am imagining a 110- or 115-foot "Darwin" ... but where to have it built? At Cantiere delle Marche. Definitely. Why? Because I know it will be a positive experience and, at the end of the day, I know that I will be just as satisfied as I am now.
As an expert sailor and captain who has skippered across thousands of miles, some of those at the helm of another Darwin 86',
how would you define your experience with Cantiere delle Marche and the Darwin Class compared to other shipyards and other boats?
The sensation I had when I began to collaborate with the technical people, first of all, and then, with the building crew at Cantiere delle Marche, was the same as what I had felt at a shipyard in Finland where I was following the building of another boat. There, they didn't refer to the shipyard as merely a business, but rather, they considered it a family. At the time, I thought this was something typically Nordic, since I had never encountered an atmosphere like this in any Italian shipyard. I remember thinking that it would be nice to find a similar working environment in an Italian shipyard. And then it happened: the perception one has of CdM is identical, it feels like a big family where everyone contributes to achieving the final objective of building gorgeous boats, and everyone tries to give their best.
It was definitely a positive experience in terms of their professionalism, dedication, and competence.
As for the Darwin Class, it was a little like returning to my professional roots; the sensations this boat gives you are of power and performance, sensations I felt when I sailed on deep sea fishing boats, that have to be able to handle any and all meteorological conditions. I think this feeling of safety and power, besides guaranteeing great comfort and maneuverability, can only be had with this type of vessel.
A captain takes many things to heart, not only the technical aspects, but also the layout of the various spaces on the boat,
from the galley to the crew quarters; what comments do you have as to how the Darwin 86' measures up in these areas?
The Darwin 86' is a boat that is made for comfortable living for everyone on board, guests and crew alike. It was designed with a very functional layout for the people who are working on board, with a spacious galley very conveniently located in the center of the boa. The crew mess and crew quarters are situated in such a way as to make them both comfortable and functional, so there is a 360° radius of space for navigation activities, and life on board can be organized without necessarily disturbing the guests.
Even the technical areas are well organized, making it possible to easily access and work on all of the machines and equipment, thus greatly facilitating maintenance and any repairs that might be needed.
They even managed to include an extra “gift”, a large space set up like a repair shop so that we could have full autonomy at all times and in any place; this is necessary for a boat like this one that knows no confines.
Cantiere delle Marche is famous all over the world for its extreme attention to detail and outfitting of the machine rooms; could you talk
about that to help us better understand how this shipyard is different in this regard?
Indeed, the machine room is the most fascinating area of the boat and it is the pulsating heart!
It stands out because the machine room of a Darwin is the fruit of the experience gained from building work boats. Therefore, it has a machine room that has no equal, thanks to the overall spaciousness, ease of access to work areas, functionality, light, clean lines and intuitive simplicity of the systems and/or components.
Another very important thing is the openness and collaborative attitude of the workers who outfitted the machine room, with the real needs of the end user in mind. So, custom-built!
While a boat like this is being built, it is normal to encounter unexpected difficulties or receive special
requests from the ship-owner; what was CdM's response on these occasions?
The shipyard has always demonstrated its desire to understand and consider the modifications asked for and the requests for forward by the ship-owner. If there was something that was not feasible because, for example, it was deemed ineffective or useless, the technical staff would always do research to propose alternatives that could satisfy the client.
Now that the season is starting, ports of call and routes are being planned. If it depended only on you, what would be the
first port of call for "Stella Del Nord" and why?
Kastellorizo in Greece. Because it is a small pearl of the Mediterranean, not very crowded, a peaceful place, a small island which despite the distance still represents a tangible tie to our past. Here, we can still feel "at home" even though we are a stone's throw from the Middle East.
If you were to meet a colleague of yours whose ship-owner was thinking about buying a new displacement yacht, would you recommend taking him to
visit Cantiere delle Marche? What would be your arguing points?
Absolutely, yes!! In fact, I'd advise him to visit the shipyard as often as possible during the various phases of construction so he can really appreciate the quality of these vessels. See the boat in a "naked" state, with no caulking or paint. I think the difference lies precisely in the quality of the construction: once the basic/starting structure is good, then everything is possible!! Another crucial factor is that these are boats made by passionate, expert people who are always on the front line.
This is not the first Darwin Class you surveyed during the build: can you tell us which is
the former one and what differences you noticed between the two projects both in the owner's
requests and brief and the build itself?
The first yacht was M/Y Percheron, but both yachts are very similar in terms of construction and details. The two main differentials between builds were the additions of a fresh water ballast tank and the installation of a larger fuel overflow tank in the engine room. Both of these additions should serve to improve not only the controllable trim of the vessel but an overall improvement in operational characteristics.
We have heard many times about CdM and its quality: can you summarize for
us where CdM really makes the difference with this regard?
The first and most obvious difference is the feel of the yard and it's people. Quality of build starts and finishes with the people designing and building the yacht. The yards general demeanour allows for closer, more personal relationship, allowing for a greater level of involvement that ultimately gives the client an increased level of satisfaction and sense of pride with the final product.
The owner of Stella Del Nord is a very knowledgeable professional when it comes to painting processes and
products and he had specific requests about it: what is the outcome of his requests and what the final result?
Working in close collaboration with the owner, bringing his wide experience has brought benefits to every stage of the project. From the early stages with specific requests of the coating cycle resulting in improvement in the surface preparation to great care in selecting the final coatings and clear choice of the appearance of the surface finish. The result is a good looking vessel which has been carefully painted to a high standard that will be easy to maintain over time.
CdM is known for its flexibility and deep level of customization of its products. Which are the features in Stella
del Nord which better show this attitude, in your opinion?
Several areas onboard were customised as a direct result of the owners input and deep understanding of engineering as a whole. The generator composition was altered to allow for a smaller nighttime running generator, providing amongst other things, reduced energy consumption and electrical loads during quiet hours. The air-coditioning system was also modified with the addition of fuel burners and hot-water radiators, adding to further optimise of efficiency of the system.