„Yes, of course, Lars, welcome!” These are the words of the Oyster crew present at the Duesseldorf boat show-stand of this year´s edition. It has been two years of absence due to Covid 19-craze that no “Boot” had been taken place and thus two years without the “Cherry on Top”, as I use to call the Oyster stand. I am biased, you know it. I confess, and that´s no news, that I may be the greatest Oyster-fanboy of Germany. For me, these yachts are the epitome of cruising yachts, the pinnacle of true blue water sailboats and the best you could possibly acquire when it comes to a GRP-yacht. Period.
I love the lines of an Oyster, the classic timeless design yet I appreciate the careful steps taken by the company under the guidance of Rob and Tom Humphreys to modernize the design, make the bulky V-shaped hulls faster, more agile and more appealing to “performance”-oriented sailors. I think, if given the chance (on my bank account, mostly) I would always prefer an Oyster over all other high-class dedicated blue water brands out there. And so, besides the fact that we all were so excited to meet at last again in Duesseldorf, I was extra-thrilled to being able to admire this wonderful ship for 10 consecutive days. This time, the British yard presented the Oyster 595.
Unmistakably an Oyster
I will never forget an on the first glimpse seemingly non-descript line from a YouTube video. It was the Yachting Monthly test of a new boat bult by the yard and the film was narrated by Mathew Sheahan. He looked into the camera and, standing boldly behind the wheels, just saying: “It´s an Oyster.”. No exclamation mark, no risen voice, no special facial expression: Just this one sentence. So full of pride, so full of self-evidence. And this sentence, so naturally and thus so strong is not just a beautifully arranged narration, but it became a sort of motto for me too.
Every time I see a boat like these, every time I enjoy the beauty of the lines, the both elegant and full body, the bold rigging and the sheer luxury that is so beautifully embedded in the practicality of these high seas mile-eaters, I tell it to myself, trying to re-enact the matter of course, so greatly conveyed by Mathew Sheahan: “It´s an Oyster.”
As I board the yacht I enter from the stern, just as any owner or crew would do when she was moored stern-first in the marina. The view is breathtaking: The vast aft deck is absolutely free of anything, I´d say the size of my flat at home. Just a nice clean flush deck, two seats in the pulpits for watching Dolphins or just having a drink. The “quiet corners”, one could say. The mainsheet block is counter sunk into the deck and one has to walk quite some distance to arrive at the helm stations. This is of course a feature all center cockpit yachts have, but it´s most elegant and impressive on Oysters I´d say.
A sailing ship in the true sense of the word
So I boarded the boat from stern and took some minutes to inhale the atmosphere. I know that sounds cheesy and exaggerated, but for me, the Oyster is really something special. Apart from the fact that unfortunately my only chance to actually be aboard such a boat is a boat show, I celebrate these rare moments.
As expected, the steering consoles and helm positions in the back of the boat are well protected being placed well inside near the longitudinal axis of the boat, creating a “safety distance” to the ship´s side and the water. By that, the walkway in between the steering wheels is wide enough to allow comfortable passage to the guest´s area. Nice helm seats and angled footrests make a good working area for the helmsman. The view over the coach roof is perfect, yet if the boat sails with a sprayhood some obstacles may appear here.
As with every modern Oyster now, the 595 features a newly constructed hull design by Rob and Tom Humphreys. Departing from the classic single rudder-configuration and skipping the skeg-protection contemporary Oysters have angled doubble rudders which are a consequence of wide-sterned modern hulls. In this, an Oyster from nowadays is way more capable of fast sailing than one from 20 years ago. In this, Oyster offers the standard, classy transom or (like we´ve seen on the Oyster 745 an extended transom, which increases aft volume but, in my personal view, destroys the looks of the boat in some way.
This boat, being a 60 footer, is a large oceangoing cruising yacht. By that, all winches are of course electric and all sheets can be taken in or eased by pushing a button either on the steering consoles or directly at the winches. In this, the large yacht can be sailed by a minimum crew or a couple, yet she could also compete fully crewed in dedicated races.
The guest area in the cockpit is Oyster-typical: A nice L-shaped sofa with very comfortable backrests invited guests, family or crew to sit down and enjoy a sunny sailing day. The cockpit table – on this boat with a rather contained GRP-tabletop configuration (where I´d expected some nicely glossy painted wooden tops) – can be turned into a full size dinner table and of course houses a fridge for ice-cold beverages.
Below decks …
Before going down I noticed with a smile the rather sporty and classical fitting of three displays. This is a nod to the „good old times“ but I find it to be a good idea: Skipper, owner or sailing guests will have a set of relevant numbers like course, speed or TWS always in view to check without having to ask the helmsman or go back to the steering posts to have a look all the time.
I also liked the grab rails upon entry giving some extra safety in rougher conditions as well as the two trays for sunglasses, sunscreen and drinks right next to the entryway. That´s some practical little things here. But let´s go down … which is always the best moment when aboard an Oyster. I must confess: I simply love the Oyster layout and especially the saloons. This is what I would love to call my home! A reclining couch to starboard – but big enough for a grown man to sleep, vis-à-vis the dinner area. A nice open space, yet kind of intimate and cozy. Somehow Oyster triggers me with this.
The nav stations for the skipper are always exemplary. It´s not one of those makeshift alibi-chart tables fitted to most cruising boats as a courtesy to the past where everybody knows that no one will use it (during the charter trip). On an Oyster, the chart table is a proper workstation for a skilled Captain: Switch panel, gauges and controls, a proper plotter/computer and well enough space to do logbook and chartwork. Oh how I would love to spend my time sitting here planning the next leg …
Some other brands try to use this as well, but the three striped vertical seaview windows are a clear signature design feature of Oyster. These windows are not a simple “thing” they do to set them apart from others, these windows do the magic on these boats.
Breaking the habits of how windows are normally cut into boat hulls, these seaview windows draw in the attention of our eyes. They open up a fantastic perspective to the outside world. When I had the chance to visit the Oyster 495 in Neustadt last year I noticed the gorgeous reflections of the light on the water surface, creating a special lighting inside the saloon. Magnificent!
Also, those three stripes are also a very beautiful design element for the boats seen from outside. Especially at night, imagine an anchorage and the light from insight is shining through these windows. That´s something only an Oyster can do (and the Discovery, to be exact). Just like the cat-eye windows in the coachroof, Rob and Tom Humphreys managed to integrate these seaview windows into their new hulls and refine them to be a defining part of the boat´s appearance.
Taking „being an owner” to a new level
Those seaview windows aren´t limited to the saloon. Of course, the owners residing in the back of the yacht will also enjoy the great view out of these windows. Oyster-typical, this yacht is a center cockpit yacht which creates huge space in the stern section of the hull, here, the owner´s cabin – or shall I say loft? – is situated.
Measuring the whole width of the boat and taking up almost 25 per cent of the hull´s length, this cabin is a palace. Most Hotel rooms are smaller than this cabin. A true island bed (of course lee cloth can be fitted!) King Size invite to take a true circumnavigator´s sleep. A nice little settee can be used to get dressed/undressed, more than enough stowage for clothing is a matter of course. Imagine laying in bed and waking up to a new day, your first glimpse out our your sleepy eyes is out of these windows on the clear blue anchorage …
Vis-a-vi the bed in front direction a large mirror (which will be a TV is switched on) creates even more visual room making the volume of this cabin appear bigger instantly. The choice of the wood, the fabrics and cushion colors are free to the taste of each owner, of course. On this particular Oyster I personally found the color scheme a bit too “Cottage style”, I would have gone to a more maritime design, but as said, this is up to each owner.
To port side the owner´s bathroom opens up. Although being on a 60-footer I was surprised that this head wasn´t that big as I had initially thought, but after a while I approved: In here you only want to get your teeth brushed and take a dump, how much space would you possibly need for this? Also in heavy seas you don´t want to fly around on a dancefloor but have a safe bulkhead or grab handle nearby.
The shower in this bathroom was big enough even to accommodate big persons, a solid shower enclosure is a matter of course. All in all, the proprietary area in the back of the ship is exemplary, as usual on an Oyster. But let´s check how guests and crew will sleep on this ship …
Cabins for the guests
Entering the front cabin, which I would say is the “VIP-guest”-cabin, I noticed that the hull windows were placed well above “head” in this cabin. Of course, you want to have the windows as far away from the waterline (especially in the bow section of the boat!) to avoid collision-damage with flotsam, but this means that our VIPs cannot enjoy a breathtaking view when laying in bed. This is far more attractively solved even on the Oceanis 46.1 but, given the fact that the Oyster is a “true” passage maker, I can fully understand the safety-aspect.
Adjoining the front cabin bulkhead on port side you´ll find a small Pullman-cabin. Both front and Pullman will use the forward head which is situated to starboard side vis-à-vis. The cabin is small, compared to the size of the boat, but again: You are here just to find a good night´s sleep and to get dressed/undressed. This will to just fine.
Oyster offers four wooden alternatives: Oak, Walnut, which makes for a bit darker interiors, very light Maple and kind of red-tinted Cherry wood. There are surely at least half a dozen choices for fabrics and colors, for the galley tabletop, for example, the yard offers four colors from the blackest black to extreme dentist´s white.
Where can I sign up?
Which brings us to the galley of the boat. As it is common sense for classic yacht-layouts of center cockpit-boats, the galley is situated on port side, just as it has been since the dawn of seafaring. This is really a work place I´d love to check out some new boat recipes for my “onboard cooking”-section.
At least on the ship shown in Duesseldorf, a four-burner induction cooker was installed: 230 Volts through generator is a matter of course on ships of this class. The galley has a load of stowage, the worktops to either sides can be used to prepare a four course menu at the same time easily. The galley is situated just behind the keel, saying the pivotal point of the yacht, so that movent here even in rougher seas are minimal.
So, boys, where can I sign up? Really, boarding an Oyster is so special for me, these boats somehow manage to touch me in a very special way. Something´s triggered inside that I can´t describe: Imagining and visualizing myself on a yacht like this always automatically involves deep blue water, no landmass in sight and high seas long haul travel. This is surely no boat to win races with – but a yacht to spend a lifetime on.
Always the Cherry on Top
So I leave the yacht, thanking the crew to letting me on board. The Oyster stand is traditionally right behind my working place for the duration of the show, which of course is Beneteau. These cannot be compared and should not, but next to our stand the Dutch company of Contest yachts displays its boat. A respected, high profile luxury yachts brand. But you know what – at least for now – nothing touches me on a Contest like the Oyster does. Maybe this is what they call “love”?
Every morning, well before opening time, I stroll around her fine hull, admiring the lines of this fine ship. After closing time, even when I used the one hour left before security makes sure the halls with their precious contents are empty to check out other boats in other halls, I always come back on my way to my car through hall 16 to have another look at this boat. Yes, this is love, just as I look at my girl before I switch off the lights at night … because … it´s an Oyster.
Oyster-related articles you might find interesting to read:
Tom and Rob Humphreys about the new generation Oysters
Aboard brand new entry-level Oyster 495
Passagemaker and Mile-eater Oyster 745, a dream yacht!