The Shape of Things to Come

THE AR­CA­DIA SHERPA TAKES THE IDEA OF FORM FOL­LOW­ING FUNC­TION TO AN EN­TIRELY NEW LEVEL. BY ALAN HARPER

Power & Motor Yacht - - 26 -

Ex­plor­ing the craggy coast­lines of Capri from the decks of a dif­fer­ent kind of Ar­ca­dia.

TThere is more to the Gulf of Naples than the im­mi­nent yet un­pre­dictable in­evitabil­ity of a fiery apoc­a­lypse. The lo­cals seem san­guine about liv­ing in the shadow of Ve­su­vius. Even though two of the re­gion’s prin­ci­pal tourist at­trac­tions are the ash-en­tombed towns of Pom­peii and Her­cu­la­neum, in nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion the sub­ject of molten lava and dev­as­tat­ing py­ro­clas­tic flows hardly ever comes up. Any­way, the traf­fic is bad enough with­out con­tem­plat­ing the ef­fects of three mil­lion peo­ple all try­ing to leave at the same time. Maybe it’s best to turn your back on the in­evitable, and choose to live life in the mo­ment.

It helps that the moun­tain is of­ten no more than a loom­ing shadow in the thick sum­mer haze. This not only makes it eas­ier to for­get, but also makes the view out to sea far more al­lur­ing. At about 20 miles across, the Gulf of­fers one of the pret­ti­est prospects on all of Italy’s long coast­line, guarded as it is to the north by the is­lands of Ischia and Pro­cida, and to the south by the steep lime­stone fortress of Capri. Peo­ple have taken to the wa­ter here, for work and for plea­sure, for thou­sands of years.

There is an an­cient tra­di­tion of boat­build­ing in this part of Italy, al­though you wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily know it from the ves­sels that emerge from the Ar­ca­dia Yachts’ fa­cil­ity at Torre An­nun­zi­ata, close to Pom­peii. First with an 85-footer and then a 115-footer, the com­pany has not so much chal­lenged the con­ven­tions of yacht de­sign as stud­ied them from all an­gles, and then torn them up and started from scratch. If any­thing, the lat­est Ar­ca­dia is even more unique look­ing than its sis­ters. But like those ear­lier projects, the Sherpa has been ef­fec­tively de­signed from the in­side out, tak­ing as its guid­ing prin­ci­ple not what a boat should look like, but how it will be used. You could say style fol­lows sub­stance more faith­fully in Ar­ca­dia’s craft than in those of vir­tu­ally any other yacht builder.

It is al­most as if the Sherpa is mea­sured in feet at the bow and in meters at the stern. That tall for­ward part of­fers com­fort­able but not lav­ish ac­com­mo­da­tions, a choice of cabin ar­range­ments and a clever raised helm sta­tion, with a gal­ley, that can be shielded from the

weather by slid­ing screens. Mean­while, that stern—well, have a look. It’s big. Across 18 feet of beam, a dozen peo­ple can re­lax here with­out get­ting in each other’s way. The for­ward su­per­struc­ture pro­vides shel­ter from the breeze when un­der way. While at an­chor, um­brella sun­shades can be ex­tended over the aft seat­ing ar­eas. The en­gines are po­si­tioned far aft and cou­pled to Volvo Penta IPS drives, leav­ing plenty of stowage space be­low the deck for a sub­stan­tial ten­der and per­sonal wa­ter­craft, along with a tech­ni­cal area and the op­tion of a crew cabin.

Down in the cab­ins, ev­ery­thing seems to scale with the Sherpa’s 55-foot over­all length—two en suite state­rooms of com­pa­ra­ble size sit side by side. On deck, how­ever, you can’t quite be­lieve that she’s not three times that size. With a flat-sec­tioned, semi-dis­place­ment hull shape and a rea­son­able turn of speed, the Sherpa is per­haps the ul­ti­mate warm-weather week­ender.

And given that the Gulf of Naples is per­haps the ul­ti­mate warmweather week­end boat­ing des­ti­na­tion, the stars were clearly in align­ment. Ugo Pel­le­grino, Ar­ca­dia’s 51-year-old owner, was de­ter­mined to demon­strate how the boat and the bay could com­ple­ment each other. We were headed for lunch on Capri.

As we fol­lowed the craggy coast­line of the Sor­rento penin­sula west-south­west along the bot­tom of the Gulf, the steep cliffs of the is­land took shape in the late-morn­ing haze and grad­u­ally ac­quired de­tail. There are two har­bors on the is­land. To the north, where the ferry berths, Ma­rina Grande has the most di­rect—but still steep and wind­ing—road ac­cess to the town of Capri it­self, nestling high up be­tween 800-foot peaks. There are the rem­nants of Ro­man vil­las up there—the Em­peror Tiberius had a hol­i­day home on the is­land— and ear­lier signs of hu­man set­tle­ment. But we had other ideas, cruis­ing past the dra­matic lime­stone stacks and arches that punc­tu­ate the south­east face of the is­land, the Faraglioni, be­fore drop­ping an­chor among the yachts in the bay of Ma­rina Pic­cola. A short ten­der ride away was La Can­zone del Mare, “the song of the sea.”

I have long sub­scribed to the view that any pub or restau­rant from which you can sit and look out at your boat in the an­chor­age is, by def­i­ni­tion, for that mo­ment or that meal, the best restau­rant in the world. You have ar­rived by boat, and there she is. Food and drink are on their way. It doesn’t get much bet­ter. And with a scented breeze cool­ing the shaded, open ter­race, so it was with La Can­zone that lunchtime.

Even by less sub­jec­tive cri­te­ria it is a restau­rant that could prob­a­bly find its way into any wa­ter­borne gas­tronome’s top ten wa­ter­side places. There are of course printed menus and wine lists, but as in all good Ital­ian restau­rants the maître d’hô­tel for­bore to bother us with those, and in­stead en­tered into a dis­cus­sion which took into ac­count our mood, that of the chef, the catch of the day, and his own par­tic­u­lar rec­om­men­da­tions.

At his sug­ges­tion I opted for a big-eyed white fish known lo­cally as pez­zogna— it looks like a mem­ber of the bream fam­ily—grilled

to per­fec­tion and served with slices of potato lightly fla­vored with lemon. Oth­ers in the party, hang­ing on our host’s ev­ery word, chose scampi, pasta, or mus­sels.

With more than 1,000 va­ri­eties of wine in Italy—all good, as far as I’m con­cerned—nowhere on Earth, not even in France, has the out­put of the lo­cal vine­yards been more per­fectly matched to the lo­cal cui­sine. They’ve had plenty of time to get it right. So our cool, crisp Falanghina del San­nio, from the little me­dieval vil­lage of San­nita in the hills above Naples, proved to be the per­fect ac­com­pa­ni­ment to our seafood: mild-man­nered, unas­sum­ing, and al­though made from one of Italy’s old­est grape va­ri­eties, in­fused, like the restau­rant, with a time­less charm.

Sit­ting in the shade, look­ing out at our boat ly­ing gen­tly to her an­chor in the turquoise wa­ter, it was easy to get slightly lost in time, and imag­ine this ter­race above the beach, with this food and this wine, as a kind of con­stant. Peo­ple had been do­ing ex­actly this, in ex­actly this spot, through the cen­turies. Their boats might look un­fa­mil­iar to us—al­though prob­a­bly not as un­fa­mil­iar as the Sherpa might look to them—but per­haps that sense of turn­ing our backs on the in­evitable, leav­ing that loom­ing shadow be­hind and choos­ing in­stead to live in the mo­ment, was an­other thing we shared.

The roomy top deck is large for her 55-foot LOA, but the op­tions re­ally set the Ar­ca­dia apart. Those win­dows power up to en­close the space.

Ac­com­mo­da­tions are the def­i­ni­tion of “de­signed from the in­side out,” with the fine fin­ish of a much larger yacht, and lay­out op­tions galore.

LOA: 55'1" BEAM: 18'4" DRAFT: 2'11" DISPL.: 36,000 lb. (full load) FUEL: 475 gal. WA­TER: 158 gal. TEST POWER: 2/435-hp Volvo Penta IPS 600 TRANS­MIS­SIONS: Volvo Penta IPS VP, 1.82:1 re­duc­tion ra­tio PRO­PEL­LERS: Volvo Penta VP TS5 WAR­RANTY: 1 year BASE PRICE: $1.835 mil­lion Her out­ward pro­file may not be a con­ven­tional model of pro­por­tion, but the Ar­ca­dia Sherpa will un­doubt­edly turn heads wher­ever she goes.

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