The Navetta 58 might look unusual to Kiwi eyes, but it packs a lot of Italian flair into its generous volume.
The Italians live by the concept of ‘la bella figura’ – literally ‘the beautiful figure’, but going beyond outward appearance to include a sense of style, grace and gentility. Anyone who has been to Italy has seen it in action — no one walks down the street in jandals and a crumpled T-shirt, eating takeaways and shouting into their mobile phone. After all, this is the country which gave the world Michelangelo, Vivaldi and gelato.
So what might you expect in an Italian-designed motor yacht? Something like the Navetta 58, produced by Absolute Yachts in Piacenza, northern Italy. While at first sight there is no doubt it looks somewhat unusual to Kiwi eyes, accustomed to the look of a Formula, Vindex or Riviera-style launch, on closer inspection it has plenty of Italian flair that make it eye-catching in more than just a “what is that?” kind of way.
Gary Erceg, managing director of Yachtfinders Global, the marque’s New Zealand agent, makes no bones about the vessel’s unusual looks.
“It’s a new look – all the European yards are doing it,” Erceg says. “It might look different to us, but people can’t believe it how much volume it has. The interior layout is really appealing to New Zealanders as well.”
And while this locally-based Navetta 58 is a simple, crisp white, Erceg says the popular variant in Europe is turquoise, while champagne-coloured motor yachts are also popular.
The boat’s near plumb bow, high topsides, stepped-down sheerline accommodating a full walkaround, and prominent windows in the bow and topsides give it a distinctly European look. The low-angle windscreen with its big ‘brow’ above also set it apart from your typical launch. The first impression is one of considerable volume, especially below decks and in that capacious bow. So what lies within?
Up on Deck
That volume translates into a feeling of space. The yacht’s maximum five-metre beam is well forward, but carries almost directly back aft, resulting in an arrivals area larger than your average Kiwi front porch.
On our test boat, much of this space is taken up by the his’n’hers tenders stored here, but the whole platform can be lowered to around a metre below water level, to simplify the tender ‘boarding’ process.
Access to the main cockpit is up a couple of steps either side, while in the centre of the platform is full-door access to what in Europe is often used as the ‘crew quarters’. Here, it’s a great place to stash the kids, extra guests or just tonnes of gear: two single berths and a head and shower are tucked behind the cockpit.
In the cockpit, a large seat runs across the stern. You can opt to have an outdoor table here, generating a large entertaining space, or just leave it open for comings and goings — unfold a couple of director’s chairs and you’re set for watching the world go by, Erceg says.
The entire cockpit is roofed and has a pull-down ‘blind’ at the rear for privacy and sun protection. There are also clear covers all round to enclose the area when the weather is less than perfect.
A staircase – no other word for it – to port runs to the upper deck, popping up through a large hatch onto another large entertaining and relaxing area. Plenty of space here for a couple of sun loungers, and further forward there’s an upholstered seating area with a table and built-in barbecue. A large electrically-operated awning extends from the radar arch to keep everyone sun-smart.
Right forward there’s a second helm station (but when you see what’s below, you’ll probably favour driving from there), with a centrally-located seat, throttle and joystick controls (more on that shortly) and chart plotter.
The Navetta 58’s main saloon is more hotel than boat, more Milan apartment than Hauraki Gulf runabout. Cream, deep-buttoned, leather upholstery, an onyx-topped coffee table, mocha-toned timber veneers on walls and floor, inset downlighting: if only your house was as flash as this. Oh, and the TV pops up from a side cabinet at the touch of a button.
A couple of steps up and you’re on the galley and dining level, again surrounded by huge windows with almost unrestricted visibility. There’s a U-shaped dining area to port with the galley to starboard. A bit small, perhaps, for the size of the boat but reflective of its European origins. Most Med cruisers go ashore for dinner in the evenings, rather than cook.
But if you’re self-catering, there is a Bosch ceramic cooktop, AEG under-bench oven, double sink and an integrated dishwasher, as well as a domestic-size fridge-freezer, and oodles of storage in the surrounding areas.
Unlike many of today’s production boats, there isn’t an extensive range of colour schemes or finishes – and Absolute is unapologetic. “It’s the Italian way,” Erceg says. “They know what looks good, so that’s what you get.”
It’s a good point; while the mocha and cream interior might not look traditionally nautical, you’ve got to hand it to the Italians: they know how to make something look sensationally stylish without being blingy or running the risk of becoming dated.
At the helm
It feels like an Alfa Romeo. The dash is clear-finish carbon, the ‘driver’s seats’ leather, the steering wheel sporty-looking, and the chrome air vents add to the automobile look. And, because it’s Italian, there’s a handy wine-cooling cabinet under the helm seat.
You might think it would take complex technology to drive the Navetta, but it’s surprisingly easy. There’s a push-button start, like in a European car – with a safety lock so the kids can’t start her up while you’re napping.
She’s fitted with a pair of 625hp Volvo Penta D11-IPS800 diesels equipped with IPS. The IPS makes for easy manoeuvring, especially in conjunction with the bow thruster. And although there’s a traditional wheel the boat can be controlled by joystick, making it much easier to park. Intuitive fore/aft/side movements are interpreted by the pods.
The vessel’s equipped with a Dynamic Positioning System – it keeps the boat stationary while fishing over a hot spot, for example – as well as a Seakeeper gyro stabiliser to minimise rolling in heavy seas. It works a treat, and makes for a very stable, comfortable ride.
Heading down from the saloon, the reason for the high topsides and generous beam becomes clear. There’s an enormous amount of room. To port at the bottom of the steps is a twin singles room, which has direct access to the ‘day head’ and shower just forward.
In the bow is the ‘VIP cabin’, a generous double with plenty of walk-around space, hanging lockers and its own head and shower, again in mocha tones and looking like something out of a hotel. This cabin is light and bright, thanks to those large windows in the bow, with generous headroom. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is the master suite, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Heading aft, past a locker harbouring a washer and dryer, you emerge into the main stateroom, which runs the full width of the hull, with large windows either side. You’d be rapt if you got this room in a hotel, with wall-to-wall carpet, a queen-size, forward-facing bed, sofa to starboard, flat-screen TV, and of course a bathroom. This is serious luxury — it doesn’t feel like you’re on a boat at all, except for the ‘water views’ and the gentle lapping of the waves.
The Navetta 58 officially sleeps eight but, as Erceg says, there are two things that can go off on a boat – fish and friends – and while all your mates might suddenly want to come away on your boat, you probably won’t want too many people aboard. There’s certainly more than enough room for two couples to cruise in complete comfort, or for families, with plenty of separate space for both adults and kids.
On the water
Thanks to IPS she’s a lot easier to drive than you might expect of a boat this size. The pod and joystick technology make manoeuvring easy and she has an impressive turning circle.
The Volvo system is also designed for frugality; during our test the Navetta 58 consumed around 160 litres/hour at its 18-knot cruising speed (top speed is 28 knots).
Cruising at that speed will take you from Auckland to Kawau in less than two hours, at the Barrier in around three and in the Bay of Islands in less than seven. With the efficient hull shape, there’s an easy transition from displacement to planning mode, and the ride is super comfortable.
And she’s not only about coastal cruising: with a range of over 1,000 nautical miles this boat has the capability to get to Fiji without refuelling.
If you arrive at an anchorage in this boat, there’s no doubt that people are going to notice. But that’s why you want one, eh?