Marine architect Mark Fitzgerald is quick to admit that there is no such thing as the perfect yacht — sail or power. For a cruising yacht to work, he believes it must hit upon the right amalgam of safety, performance, reliability and lifestyle. Consequently, many custom yachts are only “perfect” for the owner who had it built.
Fitzgerald’s philosophy comes from more than 20 years of designing custom yachts — a career that began in Florida with legendary Hargrave Custom Yachts and then took him to Maine where we worked in collaboration with Chuck Paine before establishing Fitzgerald Marine Architecture.
The Adagio story begins with Steve Wallace, marine project consultant and former manager of Blackline Shipping in Brisbane, Australia, searching the globe for a designer to match his client’s needs. He met Fitzgerald in Florida (coincidently, not far from Mark’s old office at Hargrave) and explained his client’s needs for the boat to be safe, simple, and reliable — a list of requirements that nicely dovetailed with Fitzgerald’s design philosophy.
Subsequent discussions determined that John Vitali of Diverse Projects in New Zealand would manage the build, having worked with the Paine loft on a similar 66-foot motor yacht. The roster of Kiwi and Australian contractors came together and the building process began. Carl Ferguson of Profab in Palmerston, New Zealand, was responsible for the metal fabrication and engineering and Robinson Marine Interiors completed the interior joinery.
The philosophy behind Adagio was to build a long-range motor yacht that afforded the owners and crew the amenities, safety, aesthetics and comfort of a much larger boat. The owner sought a design that was right for the job at hand and was as efficient and as maintenance neutral as possible.
Fitzgerald designed the hull with performance and sea-keeping ability in mind. A round bilge forward transitioning to a chine aft helps to move the hull cleanly through the water while at the same time providing for lift and roll dampening. This dual purpose shape makes for a hull that is both fuel efficient and comfortable at anchor. A modest draft of just 5 feet, 3 inches opens up plenty of harbors to the boat.
Adagio is powered by twin C-12 (340 hp at 1,800 rpm) Caterpillar engines giving it a continuous cruising speed of between 10.5 and 12 knots. At 12 knots and carrying 2,850 gallons of fuel the yacht has a cruising range of 2,000 nautical miles. Both the water and fuel tanks are integral, lending further structural strength to the hull and forming a double hull in the locations of the tanks. Large rudders and Kobelt steering ensure excellent directional control. The engine room has been designed with full standing headroom and is accessed via a watertight door located in the amidships vestibule or from the crew quarters aft. For added stability Adagio is equipped with Arcturus Trac Model 220 hydraulic stabilizers. There is also a Arcturus Trac 12” bow thruster and Arcturus Trac 10” stern thrusters — both are hydraulic.
Auxiliary power needs are met with an Onan e-QD 27 kW at 50 Hz genset. A massive 24-volt, 1,500-amp-hour service battery bank is located under the aft scuttle stairway and provides ample DC power for all of the ship’s systems. For shore power Adagio has an ASEA power conversion unit which can accommodate all combinations of shoreside power from 50 to 60 Hz.
On deck, the layout is straightforward with a large deckhouse and cockpit aft. Access to the deckhouse is from the cockpit or side deck weather-tight doors. There is also an exterior entry to the day head. On the foredeck there is a built-in settee and anchor handling gear which includes a Maxwell windlass and 140-lb Bruce-type anchor. The fly bridge also has built-in seating, port and starboard and a storage unit with additional freezers for extended cruising. The bridge awning is fixed.
Pilothouse electronics include Inmarsat Fleet 77 satellite communications, a Simrad GB60 processor, Simrad RB60 radar with GPS, Simrad RB715 radar, twin 19-inch Simrad LCD displays, and a Simrad AP25 autopilot.
Accommodations are set up for three couples and two crew. Prime space is found in the owner’s cabin, which spans the full beam amidships and has two entries. It has an en suite head to port and a entry vestibule with wine chiller and additional storage to starboard. The forward guest cabin has a centerline double berth. The crew quarters are aft and include a double berth with a single bunk above and a private head and shower.
The main saloon comfortably seats four to eight people without being cramped and has a concealable flat screen TV installed in a starboard counter along with other audio equipment. Lutron electric blinds have been installed for privacy. The windows may be opened for natural ventilation or when the air conditioning and heating are not required.
The galley has been located as close to the yacht’s center of gyration as possible for comfort. It is fully equipped with high-end appliances and includes Liebherr refrigeration, U-Line refrigerated drawers, Miele range and oven, microwave, trash compactor and plenty of storage space. The galley’s central location facilitates food service to the saloon or the pilothouse. For privacy, a movable screen in the aft galley counter can be raised as needed.
A boat deck has been added aft of the fly bridge to accommodate the yacht’s tender, a waterjet-powered 14-foot, 6-inch RIB and a 14-foot full keel daysailer similar to a Herreshoff 12.5. The daysailer is fitted with a removable keel that stores on a deck locker. Both boats are deployed with a 1,500-lb capacity Marquipt deck crane.
After nearly 25 months of design and construction Adagio has become a reality for its owner. It is the proper size for the ambitious cruise schedule that the owner has planned that include voyages to Mexico, the Galápagos, Chilean fjords, Alaska and Scandinavia before returning to Florida via New England and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
The yacht not only meets the owner’s requirements for service and aesthetics, but it also embodies Fitzgerald’s no-nonsense philosophy of yacht design which is based on safety, performance, reliability and lifestyle requirements. Fitzgerald believes that it is the lifestyle requirement that drives the other three. He also sees himself as an architect rather than a designer, hence the name of his company Fitzgerald Marine Architecture. “I am selling architecture…this is the product I produce,” he says. “Architecture is the process of planning and constructing objects that meet the human elemental needs and safety…while performing the task for which they were built.”
Regardless how you describe it, in Adagio all of these key elements have been elegantly brought together to create a purposeful yacht that is destined to serve its owners and crew well.