Glamorous reputation aside, motor yachts are at once confining and liberating. Liberating because, of course, boat owners can charge off to just about anywhere there is water: Maine in summer, the Bahamas in winter. The confining part is just as obvious: Short of the mega-yachts costing tens of millions of dollars (here’s to you, Dan Snyder and Michael Saylor), most have serious space limitations. And then there are the other challenges, such as keeping dishes from flying around the kitchen.
The interior design of yachts exhibits the same yin and yang.
Modestly sized production boats — and even here we’re talking about models costing north of $300,000 — may come practically complete from the boatyard: built-in seating, standard galley, a specified configuration of cabins and baths and cabinetry. Sometimes a prospective buyer can pick the window coverings (curtains or shades) and the color of the hull (there’s a lot of navy blue out there on the water). Confining, perhaps, but there’s the freedom of not having to make a lot of decisions.
Production boats still may require pricey touches, however. After all, you can’t simply pick out a mattress off the sales floor at Sleepy’s. That’s where designers such as Christine Roney, of Yacht Interiors of Annapolis, Md., come in. Roney began learning about boat design while in college as part of her major in interior design. She interned at and was hired by Yacht Interiors; 10 years later, she owns the company. She and other boat experts know how to make a template for each bed and get a factory to make a mattress to fit (a good queen-size can cost upward of $2,500, and many mattresses are hinged so they can be easily raised to access storage underneath). Boat decorators also know that bed linens start with commercially available flat sheets that are then cut and sewn in local workshops — such as the sheds found behind some Annapolis area houses.
If you step up to a custom creation, you don’t have to have built-in seating, though you might decide to, for practical reasons. In these boats, choices widen: Staterooms can be sited the way the owners want them — including amidship, to take advantage of the widest part of the lower deck. Pilothouses can be reconfigured for co-captains. And such yachts offer a chance to add more individual and luxurious flourishes: recessed lighting, granite countertops, teak paneling and custom-woven albeit water-resistant carpeting.
Yet even yacht owners with high-end fittings often say that boating is a simple lifestyle. That doesn’t necessarily mean an inexpensive one. Boat owners joke that they have learned to think in “boat units” of a thousand dollars here, a thousand dollars there. And you know what “boat” stands for, right? You got it: Break Out Another Thousand.