Yes, I am biased. You know it: Oyster is my sweet spot. I can hardly find details on these yachts worth criticizing, yet I know there are certainly some. I am simply blind. This is the way it is, when you are in love. And I am not exaggerating: Boot Duesseldorf is the one occasion I love so much for the fact that the Oyster display is right behind my workplace, the Beneteau display. And when ever I need a little timeout, a daydream, even if it´s just for a blink of an eye, I turn my head and look over.
This year the British shipyard came with the Oyster 565, a boat that is the second “smallest” of their current fleet that consists of seven sizes, ranging from the entry level 50-feet Oyster 495 to their flagship, the Oyster 885. Of course, “small” is a word that needs to be put into perspective: Those are true blue water oceangoing yacht designed for long haul sailing and a lot of time spent aboard. Having your retirement celebrated on a boat or even “just” a circumnavigation means at least a 3, 5 or more years timespan. 50 feet is the minimum size to do it, therefore small.
What I love about Oyster is their welcoming and open nature. Literally everybody I meet on the booth is very polite, calm and so “British” in nature. Somehow the grandeur and understating luxury of their boats transmits on the people working with these yachts. So, let´s dive into it, welcome aboard the Oyster 565!
The recurring Oyster motive: Natural light
Let me start by directly entering down into the salon. Oyster boats are not pilot-salon or raised salon yachts as often stated, though it may appear so from the outside. The big “cateye”-windows (as I call them myself) are a trademark design feature and make an Oyster indistinguishable from every other brand. But this is not just for design, there´s an idea behind it.
Spending so much time aboard makes a boat your home. Literally. So everything here is designed to offer a cozy, open, welcoming and safety-conveying atmosphere. As it is in every flat or house, natural light is a major aspect in creating a good feeling, which is why prison cells don´t have much. An Oyster should not make you feel like being “down below” in the basement, it should be flooded with natural light.
Both from above – a bright sunshine-filled blue sky can travel through into the salon almost unhindered, the big skylights and “cateye”-windows make sure that the sun can enter from any angle at any inclination and daytime. Also, a specialty from Oyster and seldom copied by other brands, are the three-part seascape windows in the hull, again, a design-trademark with a huge impact on the wellbeing of the Oyster´s crew and guests.
The salon is completely kept free of anything that distracts from its purpose: There is no galley to look at all the time, no work station, no technical stuff – just sofas and settees, a nice table and so much free space, volume to be filled with light from above or reflections of the water coming in via the seascape windows. I mean, in this setting, calming down, getting some rest, dreaming away or just spending a relaxed day reading a good book is almost guaranteed.
Even in bad weather, there shall never be a feeling of being “trapped” under deck as it is the case with so many boats. In an Oyster, even in the smallest boats, there is always lots of headspace, lots of volume, no cramped or constricted feelings. Could I imagine spending years aboard a ship like this? Yes, please, Sir!
Barefoot on the Coconut Route
That doesn´t mean that an Oyster is just about feelgood and luxury. Not at all. This is a serious oceangoing yacht that incorporates the feedback of hundreds of sailors, hundreds of circumnavigations and the experience of over 50 years of boatbuilding. Not only that. It´s boatbuilding adhering to the highest standards of quality and safety, having had the last big push after the POLINA STAR III-incident and the re-shaping of the company by Richard Hadida. You can see this on each Oyster by taking a closer look at the nav-stations.
Where on most boats nowadays the chart table is a mere reminiscence to some sort of “old tradition”, an artifact, a place that hardly fits a laptop, aboard any Oyster this feature is celebrated. The Captain´s seat – of course to starboard side – is placed in a dedicated corner of the ship´s salon. Not closed off, but sort of placed a bit away from the holly-go-lightly living-area. A special place.
The chart table is big enough to fit traditional paper charts of all sizes. It´s drawer easily fits a whole stack of those, or a laptop. The main switch panel is not just a board, but a piece of technological art. Secondary instruments, displays and gauges enable the skipper or the Captain to gain a full oversight on the ship´s status, position and movement. Jesus, I´d love to one day sit here and do my logbook entries …
A seemingly perfect galley layout
I explained it in my last article on the Hallberg-Rassy 69 that the center cockpit-layout has many advantages for long haul-boats. One of which is the possibility of placing the galley in between salon and aft owner´s cabin. The result is not just a huge galley, but also a safety-optimized and very practical place to prepare the boat´s meals. I hate being forced to look at the dishes on boats, that’s why I don´t fancy longitudinal galleys. On any Oyster, there is no problem like this.
The galley aboard the Oyster 565 is narrow enough to make the ship´s cook wedge himself in between the two sides. No matter if he is cooking, chopping, doing the dishes or getting something in or out the fridges, there is always a safe grab nearby. The galley is also placed near the pivotal point of the boat near the keel, which makes for less movement even in heavy seas. Also, the galley is light suffused. A role model.
Imagine being an owner …
Although I am building my own dream yacht right now, the Oyster is still on top of my “dear Santa”-list. This boat is just so captivating and has taken me away on so many occasions in the evening, after I went to bed, lights are out, eyes closed … on my imaginary circumnavigations. Which, on an Oyster, is literally a built-in feature: The Oyster World Rally is a service and event for owners like no other provided by any other shipyard or brand in the world. Standing in the owner´s cabin at the boat, this is apparent …
This is the true luxury on a boat like this: A really big, big owner´s cabin. I mean, on a classic aft-cockpit yacht it takes a 60-footer to offer the inner volume of a cabin like that one on the Oyster. Even on the smallest, the Oyster 405, the owner´s cabin is of huge proportions. A nice island bed, loads of stowage and of course the great seascape windows are an invitation to leisure time and true relaxation.
Imagine waking up in such a bed, your first view is through the three windows onto a crystal clear blue water, the boat gently swinging at anchor … or in your off-time when sailing, gently heeled over secured by lee cloth, the water is vividly foaming greenish behind those windows. It must be like living a dream. Adjoinging to the cabin to starboard side the bathroom is located.
It´s not an overly big bathroom: A vacuum toilet – nicely aligned to face forward along the axis of the yacht – a sink and a decently sized shower chamber. Who needs more? Behind the bathroom´s wall, accessible from the salon, a room for a washer/dryer and some stowage is also located on the right hand side underneath the cockpit´s coamings, utilizing the volume there.
Guests on board the Oyster 565 will have a great time too: The layout allows for a VIP-guest cabin in the front and a two-berths Pulman-cabin, both sharing a big bathroom with all amenities. This layout can be optimized in canceling the room behind the nav station and make it´s volume accessible via the owner´s bathroom, in this almost doubling the volume of this bath.
Now, let´s get back on deck. Guests and off-watch crew enjoy a nice cozy cockpit. A central table with folding tabletops (and a fridge of course) make for a great place to enjoy breakfast, lunch or a sundowner. It´s just a feeling and I did not have a ruler with me, but I felt that this cockpit area was bigger than on the Hallberg-Rassy 69, which is amazing!
Casting off, into the Blue …
Putting the Aperol Spritz away and taking one of the helm seats in the aft, a skipper or helmsman aboard the Oyster 565 will have full push-button control over the sails and all principal functions of the boat. The yacht is 18 meters long and a little over 5 meters wide, which makes for a big boat indeed – but again, she is made to bridge oceanic distances in a most seakind and quick way.
This is achieved by a state-of-the art hull design, of course conceived by Rob and Tom Humphreys. Her sail plan provides for 152 square meters of sails area, powering her 27.5 tons through the distant waters. If two steering wheels – clearly more out of design purpose and fitting a current trend in owner´s demands – are always the best choice, is a question mark. But I am sure when sailing heeled or with sprayhood up a helmsman will enjoy this set-up very much. So, can we cast off now, please?
Surely, for most of us a boat like this will remain a dream. I guess it´s not only the budget needed in order to have an Oyster built. The true luxury isn´t about the money. It´s about having the time to cast off. The freedom to be out sailing for one, two or more years, totally independent and freed of the constraints of a job, this is what most of us will sadly never achieve. But let´s not be depressive about it: Even my five minute Oyster daydreams take me away, looking at all the great pictures and movies from the World Rally or just, as I literally celebrate every year in Duesseldorf, the admiration for those beautiful lines is something special and precious for any boat connoisseur.
You can read these Oyster related articles too:
Walkthrough Oyster 745
Interview with Rob and Tom Humphreys on Oyster 495 yacht design
Entry level dream yacht: Oyster 495