Mat­teo Pic­chio’s tug­boat

Top Yacht Design - - Contents - By Emi­lio Mar­ti­nel­li

Ha­ving star­ted li­fe as Chi­po­la, the tug­boat now kno­wn as Ur­sus la­ter be­co­me kno­wn as YTM 466, A. J. Har­per, Mar­tom and Wil­d­flo­wer in the cour­se of a long and ho­nou­ra­ble ca­reer. And now at la­st she is being con­ver­ted to a lu­xu­ry ship. “Yes, a ship that can be li­ved aboard for long pe­riods of ti­me not ju­st in warm areas but al­so in arc­tic wa­ters. She’ll be sa­fe in any sea, com­for­ta­ble and all the choi­ces ma­de will be top of the ran­ge bo­th in terms of tech­ni­cal pro­wess, ele­gan­ce and so­phi­sti­ca­tion,” says ar­chi­tect Mat­teo Pic­chio. Our story be­gins 78 years ago in 1940, in a shi­pyard in Loui­sia­na, USA, wi­th the buil­ding of Chi­po­la, a then­lea­ding-ed­ge 24-me­tre steel tug wi­th a beam of six that al­so pac­ked a mas­si­ve 560 hp 8-cy­lin­der die­sel en­gi­ne.

Du­ring World War II, she was re­qui­si­tio­ned by the US Na­vy as Tug YTM 466 and pa­trol­led the mi­ne­fields along the na­tion’s Atlan­tic coa­st. On­ce pea­ce was re­sto­red, she chan­ged hands and na­me se­ve­ral mo­re ti­mes, wor­king as a tug for bar­ges and other ves­sels in and around Bal­ti­mo­re, Ma­ry­land. Se­ve­ral at­temp­ts we­re al­so ma­de to con­vert her to a ya­cht. Ur­sus even spent a year stuck in the mud of that ci­ty’s port be­fo­re going to New York. Fi­nal­ly, in 2007, the tug was bought on EBay and mo­ved to Saint Clair La­ke, ou­tsi­de De­troit, Mi­chi­gan, a jour­ney of 900 mi­les. She was di­sco­ve­red the­re by her pre­sent ow­ner in 2009, still afloat but in a pret­ty run­do­wn sta­te, being used as part of a bed and break­fa­st. He pur­cha­sed the doughty old tug and wi­th four friends and over 16 days, sai­led her all the way back to New York, th­rou­gh la­kes and ca­nals in a ra­ce again­st the

on­co­ming win­ter. In May 2010, the ex-Chi­po­la was loa­ded on­to a car­go ship bound for Ge­noa. The ow­ner con­tac­ted Mat­teo Pic­chio to show him what he’d bought. “He knew I had ju­st do­ne the de­si­gn and pro­ject ma­na­ge­ment on the con­ver­sion of the tug boat Te­na­ce II to a ya­cht cal­led Ma­ria Te­re­sa,” re­mi­ni­sces Pic­chio. “He told me he would pro­ba­bly gi­ve my stu­dio the job of de­si­gning the in­te­riors but al­so said that he wan­ted to get the hull right him­self fir­st.” Ur­sus was es­sen­tial­ly re­built by Can­tie­re Ami­co & Co. of Ge­noa.

A few years pas­sed and then, at the end of May 2017, Mat­teo Pic­chio’s pho­ne rang. It was the sa­me ow­ner who had brought the tug to the Can­tie­re Na­val­mec­ca­ni­ca at San Be­ne­det­to del Tron­to on the Adria­tic. He now wan­ted Pic­chio and his stu­dio to do the who­le re­fit and con­ver­sion pro­ject. “Right away, we had a great rap­port wi­th the ow­ner,” con­ti­nues Pic­chio. “He’s a ve­ry tech­ni­cal­ly com­pe­tent person and al­so has a great deal of ocean sai­ling ex­pe­rien­ce. But he wa­sn’t clear in his mind about the in­te­rior lay­out or the ove­rall sty­ling of his fu­tu­re ya­cht. The ba­sic con­cept was that Ur­sus, as Chi­po­la was to be kno­wn, should look nei­ther faux an­ti­que nor pan­der to cur­rent trends. We we­re to be re­spect­ful of her hi­sto­ry and crea­te sim­ple spa­ces in her in­te­rior wi­th no su­per­fluous de­co­ra­ti­ve flou­ri­shes. Ju­st clean forms, ni­ce­ly ba­lan­ced wi­th fi­ne ma­te­rials and fi­ni­shes.” Work on Ur­sus is pro­gres­sing ni­ce­ly wi­th a dead­li­ne set for Ch­rist­mas of this year. Her me­tal work has been re­no­va­ted, re­tai­ning her ori­gi­nal ae­sthe­tic

and, in so­me in­stan­ces, re­sto­red to its ori­gi­nal look. “The guar­drails, stairs and sky­lights are stain­less steel but they ha­ve been ena­mel-pain­ted. In 1940, the­re would ha­ve been no po­li­shed steel aboard a tug!” ex­plains Pic­chio. Lea­ding-ed­ge paint was used in the in­te­riors, ho­we­ver, whi­ch in­clu­de two two-ber­th gue­st ca­bins and crew quar­ters on the lo­wer deck, a sa­loon and a VIP sta­te­room on the main, and, la­stly, the ma­ster ca­bin be­hind the whee­lhou­se on the brid­ge deck. Other flou­ri­shes in­clu­de hand­stit­ched lea­ther and sue­de, lu­xu­ry woods, mar­ble and sto­ne in the ba­th­rooms, and lo­ts of whi­te in the dé­cor pa­let­te.

“The spa­ces will be ti­me­less and ou­tsi­de of fa­shions,” con­ti­nues Pic­chio. “Wi­th re­fe­ren­ces to ma­ri­ti­me tra­di­tion in ge­ne­ral and the Ame­ri­can fur­ni­shings and con­struc­tion tech­ni­ques of the 1940s in par­ti­cu­lar. Warm, wel­co­ming spa­ces that real­ly beg to be li­ved in. But al­ways wi­th a strong focus on func­tio­na­li­ty. The goal is to achie­ve a kind of ele­gan­ce sui­ted to the ve­ry sub­stan­tial, tac­ti­le and na­val tug­boat con­cept, by whi­ch I mean a ship that will real­ly exu­de its co­re ele­ment of po­wer and ro­bust­ness. This has to be achie­ved wi­thout any for­cing but by doing eve­ry­thing to a hi­gher stan­dard than the usual be­st prac­ti­ce.”

Mat­teo Pic­chio’s dra­wings and ren­de­rings for the re­fit of Ur­sus.Di­se­gni e ren­de­ring di

“Ur­sus’ re­sto­ra­tion is re­spec­ting bo­th her hi­sto­ry and her iden­ti­ty”

«Ur­sus è sta­to re­stau­ra­to ri­spet­tan­do la sua sto­ria e la sua iden­ti­tà»

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