Upgraded Lady Azul Offers Charter Adventure and Excitement Across Asia

The 129ft Lady Azul is enjoying a fresh lease of life as one of Southeast Asia’s most fun and adventurous charter superyachts. The post Upgraded Lady Azul Offers Charter Adventure and Excitement Across Asia appeared first on LUXUO.

Upgraded Lady Azul Offers Charter Adventure and Excitement Across Asia

Lady Azul seems to possess an adventurous spirit. After several charters from Phuket since emerging at the end of last year from an extensive refit, the 39.4m Heesen is emerging post Covid-19 with plans to cruise up and down the Andaman Sea this winter.

Built by Dutch superyacht yard Heesen, the 39.4m Lady Azul has enjoyed a strong start to her new charter life following an extensive refit in Langkawi

Malaysia-based Gerry Ross has been Captain of the four-deck, five-cabin superyacht since 2015 and overseen two major refits including last year in Langkawi, his home for the past decade.

The blue-hulled Lady Azul appears to inspire loyalty, not only among Captain and crew but also charter guests, who make the most of a yacht now fully equipped for diving and packed with new toys including a 15m inflatable netted lap pool.

Trips since the refit include a first charter into Myanmar after an active family – who had used the yacht a year previously – booked her again after confirming the Captain and key crew were still aboard.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, 28mm (187)

Fun is the name of the game on Lady Azul, which is geared up for isolation and exploration

“The Mergui Archipelago is stunning. The beaches and the islands are something else,” says the New Zealander, who first came to Asia on the 26m Azimut Verena V, the smallest yacht he has captained. “Another attraction is that you basically have the whole place to yourself.”

DIVING WITH ELEPHANTS AND TRAINS

As well as visiting Myanmar for the first time, the guests – including several keen scuba divers – also cruised in Thailand during the 10-day charter. Ross ensured they had some underwater experiences they’ll never forget as they made the most of the yacht’s new brand-new dive gear, including eight tanks and a dive compressor.

Off Koh Racha Yai, south of Phuket, Ross led the clients on 18-20m dives to see 3m-high concrete elephants and giant statues plus a huge network of concrete cubes, all placed on the seabed after the 2004 tsunami to attract divers. The charter guests also dived boat wrecks and even sat on a motorbike still standing upright on the seabed.

Charter guests on Lady Azul have dived with submerged trains, concrete elephants and a motorbike

Charter guests have dived with submerged trains, concrete elephants and a motorbike

That was just a taste of things to come, as further down the coast they visited Koh Waen, southeast of Koh Lanta Yai, where they swam through a series of open train carriages that had shifted off their train tracks!

“The guests loved it. In Asia, we’re in a place where it’s a lot more adventurous. There’s a lot more to do than if you were chartering in Europe, where sometimes guests are more interested in being seen in a marina,” Ross says. “I find that Lady Azul is the perfect size for Asia. We can get close enough to beaches so you can swim there or get near dive spots.”

DUTCH PEDIGREE

Lady Azul, originally commissioned for a Malaysian and launched by Heesen in 2001, has benefited from enormous investment from its new owner, who bought the yacht in April 2019 and used it for a couple of months before embarking on an extensive technical, interior and exterior refit in Langkawi.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, A7r111 (98)

Looking immaculate after the refit, the enormous saloon has comfortable sofas and chairs to port, great views, and leads forward to the dining area and guest cabins

The yacht feels immaculate when you’re on board, with the woodwork, flooring, ceilings, lighting, furniture and soft furnishings all looking as pristine as on a new build.

It also feels immensely comfortable inside and out. The main saloon is bright, with comfortable white sofas and lots of space on starboard side to walk past the centrepiece to the formal dining area, overlooked by a colourful painting of a phoenix.

The upper deck also has a saloon, with a large corner sofa, chairs, big TV, card table and a corner bar, which also serves the aft deck, where a long table comfortably seats 10 and offers great sea views. As the yacht’s most popular place for meals, it can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has cosy lounging areas on both sides.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, A7r111 (90)

The formal dining area on the main deck can comfortably seat 10 for meals and offers great views through the large windows

The sun deck offers even more panoramic views and has several intimate seating, dining, lounging and socialising areas including a large aft-facing sunpad, a nice place to hang out for drinks before or after dinner.

As for who’s sleeping where, Lady Azul has a huge master suite forward on the main deck. Space has been given priority in a beautifully designed room with a forward-facing bed that enjoys light and 270-degree views, a forward TV, portside desk and an enormous marble bathroom with his and her sinks, shower and portside bathtub.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, DSC07705

The stunning master suite on the main deck has seating and a desk on both sides

The four lower-deck guest cabins are also hugely comfortable and light, with full-beam VIP cabins fore and aft of two surprisingly large twins, all with large windows, good natural light and elegant en-suites.

TOYS GALORE

However, this is a boat to be enjoyed outdoors and is packed with toys galore since the refit. As well as the diving equipment, new gear includes a 5.5m Williams Dieseljet Tender, two bright-orange Seabobs, two inflatable kayaks, two paddleboards and snorkelling gear.

However, the real party piece is the custom-made FunAir lap pool, which provides a safe, netted area to swim and play around in – no jellyfish here – as well as sitting and sunbathing areas around all four sides.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, 28mm (247)

Lady Azul is ideal for charter by families and groups, with a new 15m inflatable netted lap pool and plenty of water toys and activities

In fact, the far end of the 5m-beam pool is long and wide enough for two people to enjoy floating yoga while taking in views of the skies and sea.

The pool connects to the refurbished beach club, which is a hub of any active charter trip, providing a large area by the sea for sitting and relaxing, launching water activities or showering outdoors when you’ve finished.

The air-conditioned gym on Lady Azul has a great sea view

The air-conditioned gym has a great sea view

It also has an upgraded ‘garage’ behind sliding glass doors that now also houses an air-conditioned gym with four machines, weights and yoga mats, plus a TV and WiFi. Working out on an elliptical or rowing machine is a lot more fun when you’ve got a view of the sea that you can dive into after you’ve finished.

Matthew Gusman, the yacht’s representative, is delighted with the new-look Lady Azul, which had full exterior paint work and a huge range of technical upgrades including new air-conditioning, frequency converter, AV systems and navigational equipment.

Guests on Lady Azul can enjoy inflatables towed by the new 5.5m Williams tender

Guests can enjoy inflatables towed by the new 5.5m Williams tender

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, Tele (186)

“The owner has invested a lot to ensure the yacht is of the standard he expects. The upgraded navigation system is particularly important as the boat is now exploring less-documented places off the beaten track, which is exciting for charter clients,” says Gusman, who also reveals the owners’ concerns for the environment.

“They were shocked with the amount of plastic they saw on beaches and decided they weren’t going to contribute to that. They installed new water-makers and a water-filtration system, so now you can drink out of any tap on the boat.”

INTERNATIONAL APPEAL

Crew play a key role in any charter holiday and Lady Azul benefits from an experienced, multicultural seven-strong team. Malaysians Farid Mohd Isa (First Officer), Izuan Bin Hasan (Deckhand) and Amira Binti Ahmad (Stewardess) have worked with Ross on Lady Azul for several years, while Pole Greg Biskup (Chief Engineer) and Filipina Irish Teves (Chief Stewardess) joined in the past year.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, 28mm (314)

The aft decks are the the most popular places for drinks and meals

And although Ross may be boss, the most important crew member for many guests is the one rarely seen – the chef. Born and raised in Phuket, Nobphadon ‘Ko’ Hiranchai has spent three decades in the catering and hotel industry, and joined Lady Azul after spending six years working on the 56m Lady D.

This master of the kitchen can cook practically any cuisine, essential considering the yacht’s international clientele, and specialises in vegan menus. He even bakes fresh bread every day, also hand-making his own bases when pizzas are the order of the day.

“I’ve been working in kitchens for three decades, so I can cook anything – Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, sushi, other Asian, Italian, European, Western, Mexican,” says Ko, who has worked at some of Phuket’s leading resorts and hotels.

Lady Azul is renowned for its cuisine thanks to an experienced superyacht chef

Lady Azul is renowned for its cuisine thanks to an experienced superyacht chef

“If guests want Thai food, I can cook different Thai dishes every day for a week. If they only want seafood or want a healthy menu, I can do it. Once I know what the guests like and need, I take care of everything.”

BRAVE NEW ERA

Considering the strong reputation of the crew and the yacht, Gusman is confident of Lady Azul’s charter appeal, both for clients based in and outside Asia.

Lady Azul has been blessed to have key members of the crew stay with the boat, starting with Captain Gerry. It’s good for the boat and the charter guests, and the whole team have had rave reviews from all our clients,” Gusman says.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, 28mm (285)

Double kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are ideal for guests to explore Southeast Asia’s stunning islands and beaches

“Many of our target clients are used to a certain level of service when chartering in the Med or Caribbean, and we now offer that level of service and comfort on a Dutch-pedigree yacht in Southeast Asia.”

Likely to operate between northern Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar from about November through March or April for the coming season, the plans for the rest of next year remain more flexible.

Singapore, Malaysia’s east coast and the Anambas Islands are among potential destinations, along with Sumatra, Komodo and Raja Ampat in Indonesia, the Philippines and even the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Lady Azul charter yacht in Yacht Style by Phil Clark/Helicam.asia, 28mm (162)

“People can now enjoy a high level of service and luxury in places they haven’t been before on a North European-built superyacht, such as the Mergui, Anambas, Raja Ampat, Bali, Komodo,” Gusman says. “The target is charters off the beaten track, for the adventurer in the family or the adventurous family.”

For Lady Azul charter enquiries, contact Matthew Gusman: matthew@ladyazul.com; +356 7925-2928

The post Upgraded Lady Azul Offers Charter Adventure and Excitement Across Asia appeared first on LUXUO.

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Belzona 27 CC Boat Test

The Belzona 27 CC is a boat that Boating's top crew of editors sea-trialed and evaluated so that boaters-boat buyers especially-can learn the in-depth details about this boat's performance, construction and other features. Is it the right boat for you? Read on.

Belzona 27 CC Boat Test

Miami-based Belzona Boats carved a brand-building course with one of the marine industry’s most unique features. The 32- and 40-foot models offer side doors that slide aft for wide-open access to the aft cockpit, be it at the dock or on the water.

The compact new Belzona 27cc carries forward that tradition with a starboard side door that operates differently yet just as easily. More about that later.


LOA: 27'2" | Beam: 9'4" | Draft: 1'9" | Displacement: 6,500 lb. | Transom Deadrise: 21.5 degrees | Bridge Clearance: 8'4" | Max Cabin Headroom: 5'8" | Fuel Capacity: 200 gal. | Max Horsepower: 450 | Available Power: Twin Mercury outboards up to 225 hp each (Courtesy Belzona/)

One of the smallest Belzonas, the 27cc ranks as the brand’s most angling-centric to date. Gunwales reach to midthigh for a superb combination of onboard security and fishing access, and coaming pads encircle the interior to cushion legs while fishing. A level self-bailing deck with grit-style nonskid features wide walkways aside the console.

Recessed handrails bracket the bow for security when going forward. A cabinet abaft the leaning-post/helm-seating module can be optioned to accommodate tackle stowage. You can order the 27cc with a slide-out Yeti Tundra 75 cooler for the space underneath the module.

Optional slide-on backrests convert the bow seats to a pair of loungers.
Optional slide-on backrests convert the bow seats to a pair of loungers. (Courtesy Belzona/)

For keeping fish iced down, a pair of huge, insulated in-sole fish lockers flank the aft deck, with a third insulated fish locker under the foredeck. Deck hatches feature friction hinges to prevent them from slamming shut on your toes or fingers, and macerator pumps evacuate blood, gruel and meltwater overboard.

You’ll find seating on the forward console.
You’ll find seating on the forward console. (Courtesy Belzona/)

Five rod holders are built into the transom bulkhead, another four Mate Series combo rod/drink holders are recessed in the backrest of the helm seating, and five rod tubes line the aft edge of the fiberglass hardtop. These are in addition to three gunwale rod holders on each side of the boat for trolling, kite-fishing or drifting.

The 27cc is available with a pair of transom livewells, including a standard 29-gallon well in the port quarter and an optional 18-gallon well in the starboard quarter. Both feature clear acrylic hatches that latch and seal, as well as friction hinges to keep them from slamming shut.

The helm can accommodate twin MFDs.
The helm can accommodate twin MFDs. (Courtesy Belzona/)

Belzona’s penchant for passenger comfort emerges with the optional bow seating with slide-on backrests that convert the seats to a pair of loungers. Underneath is extra storage.

You’ll find seating on the forward console (with a 45-quart insulated cooler underneath) as well. In the stern, a transom bench seat can be folded down or removed when fishing takes priority. You can option the upholstery to feature the colors you wish, and add features such as diamond- or honeycomb-accent stitching.

You can order the 27cc with a slide-out Yeti Tundra 75 cooler.
You can order the 27cc with a slide-out Yeti Tundra 75 cooler. (Courtesy Belzona/)

OK, now let’s look at that unique side entrance, which Belzona dubs its Jumper Door. It uses articulating arms that make it easy to open and close. Lift and then pivot the lightweight carbon-fiber door aft to open. To close, lift and pivot it forward. A locking arm and latch keep the door secure and sealed.

This feature makes it easier to board the 27cc from a floating dock and haul aboard a big fish. A telescoping boarding ladder lets you reboard easily through the doorway when swimming or diving.

Shopping around? No other boats have the Jumper Door, but Scout’s 277 LXF center-console ($223,701) comes standard with a portside swing-in boarding door, transom door, integral three-sided windshield and a greater emphasis on family-friendly comfort.

Options include a permanent marine head or portable marine toilet.
Options include a permanent marine head or portable marine toilet. (Courtesy Belzona/)

Dash-panel options on the 27cc range from plain fiberglass to the racy carbon-fiber panel on our test boat. You can order one or two multifunction displays. This particular 27cc featured a pair of Garmin 15-inch touchscreen displays and a Garmin Fantom 24 dome radar. The carbon-fiber steering wheel complemented the techie dash panel.

Belzona offers an array of windshield choices that range from no windshield to a three-sided clear polycarbonate enclosure. Inside the step-down console we discovered an electrical control panel and access to the immaculate rigging behind the helm. You can order an optional permanent marine head or portable marine toilet to put inside.

The 27cc features 21.5 degrees of deadrise at the transom and carries a sharp entry forward. The sheerline sweeps upward from midship to a high, proud bow. A Euro-style transom melds pleasingly with the integral engine bracket.

Five rod holders are built into the transom bulkhead.
Five rod holders are built into the transom bulkhead. (Courtesy Belzona/)

Propelled by twin Mercury FourStroke 200 hp V-6 outboards, our boat charged from zero to 30 mph in 8.38 seconds, reaching a top speed of 51.7 mph at 5,800 rpm. The optional SeaStar Solutions Optimus 360 joystick steering system eased docking in tight quarters.

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The hull knifed smoothly at speeds as high as 35 mph through the 2- to 3-foot waves in the bay waters outside Miami’s Matheson Hammock Park, offering a dry, level ride no matter what direction we attacked the seas. Hairpin turns were executed without skidding. The propellers held their bite during lateral acceleration. Construction felt solid, with nary a creak nor rattle as we charged through the waves.

The 27cc’s Jumper Door is sure to impress anyone. Yet setting that great feature aside, this is a great-looking center-console boat, and one that’s in league with larger models when it comes to performance, range, fishing and comfort.

High Points

  • That Jumper Door is just icing on the cake for this sweet 27-footer.
  • Confidence-inspiring cornering at speed.
  • Easy access to rigging behind the helm.

Low Points

  • Posts that secure the transom bench have the potential to gouge chins when the seat is removed. We’d like to see a redesign.
  • Stowage nook or shelf on the console would be nice for stashing cellphones.

Price: $228,444 (with twin Mercury 200 FourStrokes)

Available Power: Outboard

Belzona 27cc Certified Test Results
Belzona 27cc Certified Test Results (Boating Magazine/)

How We Tested

Engines: Twin Mercury 200 hp FourStrokes

Drive/Prop: Outboard/Mercury Enertia Eco 16″ x 17″ 3-blade stainless steel

Gear Ratio: 1.85:1

Fuel Load: 120 gal.

Crew Weight: 200 lb.

Belzona Boats - Miami, Florida; 305-512-3200; belzonaboats.com


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