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Review: Palmer Johnson's 135' "Dragon"

Discussion in 'Palmer Johnson Yacht' started by YachtForums, Mar 19, 2008.

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  1. Palmer Johnson 135' "Dragon"
    Slaying the Seven Seas

    Review by Capt. Chuck Gnaegy​

    Dragon, the fine lady herself making her U.S. debut, flaunts a spirited, highly artistic quality
    which sets her apart from other luxury yachts, both inside and out. The 2nd new launch in PJ’s
    Sport Yacht series, her sweeping 135’ exterior design is so advanced – she is Showtime personified.​

    As an outstanding, even iconic, luxury yacht, Dragon will likely become a much imitated model of exterior and interior design. Perhaps a surrogate Mona Lisa, as it were, admired and coveted by every viewer at the first ardent glimpse of her 21st Century smile. First in this Palmer Johnson advanced series was Waverunner, shown at Cannes and Monaco; but vastly different in color and surpassed in interior design by the scintillating Dragon.

    Dragon is actually the dreamwork of Palmer-Johnson president Mike Kelsey, who suffered a serious knee injury at MIBS, but remained on-hand to greet a seemingly endless line of guests. In between, Mike took time to share PJ's sport yacht philosophy and in particular, Dragon's build. Mike’s father, Mike Kelsey Sr. is largely credited with developing Palmer Johnson into a megayacht legend. Mike Jr. had been an employee of the company for many years. Prior to his departure during some difficult financial years for the company, he vowed to return to the yacht building business due to his concern for the workers in Sturgeon Bay. For more than 150 years, these craftsmen launched ships into the Great Lakes, finishing over 250 boats with the skills and expertise that has made Palmer Johnson into an American icon. Mike Jr. seized the opportunity to purchase and expand Palmer Johnson's in the early 2000’s and turn Palmer Johnson back into one of America's premier yacht builders. Mike Jr. is credited with resurrecting the company and arranging the financial restructuring that has allowed Palmer Johnson to continue building on its successes, elevating his company to the top rank it deserves.
  2. A work of artistic taste and mien – far from the pop candy look of some new builds – Dragon was instantly voted a star on Valentine’s Day at the Miami International Boat Show. Dragon’s flamboyant exterior design is only the preface; a threshold in a grand exposition of modern yachting which seems deeply devoted to a study in modern art. “This yacht,” Kelsey explained, “is part of an extensive program of modernization. It’s according to a plan which included revamping our infrastructure, implementing a build program to design and construct yachts efficiently in a series.” As part of this initiative, the entire sport yacht line has been 100% Nuvolari & Lenard designed.
  3. As noted, Dragon was designed by the Italian firm of Nuvolari & Lenard, whose growing list of radical new yacht designs includes the recently launched Oceanco "Amevi" and "Alfa Nero", as well as Carver's new "Marquis" line of sport yachts. Of all these, Dragon may be the most visually spectacular of N&L's new sport yacht models. She’s also fast; easily claiming a top speed over 34 knots.
  4. We had a complete tour by a Kelsey guide over the entire yacht, displaying a number of surprises in luxury and design. The unusual omission of a second helm on her Flybridge simply exaggerates her dedication to relaxation and fun times. This “City Park” area boasts deeply padded sun-tan mattresses and lounge chairs all following the yacht’s crisp color motif. They are abetted by a full service bar with stools, plus grill, refrigerator and icemaker.
  5. Though Dragon’s fleet streamlining is somewhat similar to previous, smaller models, her design was a product of new thinking and production at Palmer Johnson. Kelsey explains: “Our new program was to take these new designs and build them in a series so we could get enough product to the market in a given year, but not dilute it. So we decided to completely change the way we built, to go into a true series.”
  6. Also, hidden in the streamlining of the yacht’s stern, a pair of PWC's await deployment. The hydraulically operated garage door is large enough to double as a shaded staging area for dive equipment and water toys. In the bottom left-hand corner of this picture, Glendenning CM-8 cable reel with 75 ft of shore power cable is visible.
  7. Under the triad of navigation hubs looming on her radar arch, Dragon's ominous metallic black paint screams "don't touch" come high noon. Nestled into this VLJ-looking platform are twin satellite TV domes and one sat-com, with the requisite VHF/UHF antenna array.
  8. On the foredeck, Dragon’s dedication to relaxation, escape from worldly cares for fun and games, offers this magical whirlpool Jacuzzi, surrounded by brilliant red sun pads. When the Jacuzzi is not being used, a solid teak top covers it, to become a table. A bimini top can cover this whole deck area.
  9. The foredeck garage molding is all steel-grey fiberglass but looks like aluminum. This composite shot shows the big whirlpool Jacuzzi on the foredeck – seating up to 8 happy bathers – plus, in the background, Dragon’s enormous foredeck opens to reveal the yacht’s larger tender, ready for launch. Hydraulically powered, the beam-wide system presents a 17’ Novurania fiberglass runabout, and its 2,500 lb. crane/davit.
  10. Just outside the Wheelhouse, both port and starboard, auxiliary control stations allow full helm authority for docking and close encounters inshore, along the teak-decked passageways.
  11. This detail of the bridge door opening to the starboard deck shows a close-up of the crisp, edgy architectural quality of Dragon’s exterior design. Ample walk room allows easy access fore and aft along wide passageways.
  12. Dragon’s enormous windscreens, slanted in the stylish conformation, also display oversized windshield wipers to provide unerring visibility for the Captain and observers.
  13. One aspect of Dragon which continually receives praise is the exterior deck “roominess.” Wide open space; openness in every area. That begins upon boarding, as we did, at the aft deck. There is a convenient 5.5 meter Passarelle. The huge back deck is laid out and spacious enough for a full family gathering. “We have a table that seats 10 very comfortably back here,” our guide related. “There’s a bar with a refrigerator. Upstairs there’s also a refrigerator and icemaker, inside.” A flight of seven broad stairs at each beam lead down to the swim platform, with self deploying swim ladder.
  14. Setting the stage for the entire aesthetic production is the Salon: Stark, strict, specious, spectacular red white & black, fine art a la Mondrian; a paradigm reflection of the Dutch/Flemish Master. The arrangement of square and rectangular, exemplar protocols in walls and furnishings is rarely ornamental, featuring angles, squares, architecturally laid out in crisp geometric patterns. It expresses a devotion to functional form with an audacious color scheme. The prototype of these conformations is more often reflected in MOMA, the New York Museum of Modern Art, or the Louvre, in Mondrian’s brilliant displays of contrasting values, constructed with full chromaticity and iridescence. Through all that, the plethora of comfort prevails, in numerous couches, easy chairs, and walking spaces. The decor also flashes brushed aluminum trims with leather bindings.
  15. However, it is quite obvious that Dragon’s dramatic interior bears a very strong influence from the ultimate buyer, who obviously harbors expansive knowledge and appreciation for fine art; with particular admiration for one famous Master, Piet Mondrian. It looks as though the owner sashayed in, carrying a catalog of this famous artist’s work and said, “Here: Design the yacht interior around this.”
  16. Some who are strongly dedicated to the mechanical aspects of megayachts may not approve of this magical, avant-garde design approach; others will be enthralled at the audaciousness of the artistic level. The dining room, adjoining but separated only by a stretch of cabinetry from the main salon, carries out the theme. With black African wenge wood on the dining table and floor, a formal dining occasion seats ten. Port and starboard cabinets provide tableware storage. A full service bar with marble top is accompanied by an under-counter ice maker/refrigerator. The 42” TV entertainment module with Surround-Sound is centered within the adjoining rooms, set at floor level on a swivel, so it is easily viewed from any angle in this large open space.
  17. Forward on the main deck, with Fly by Wire electro-hydraulic steering, the Pilothouse also echoes the bright color scheme, sporting twin, adjustable Stidd helm chairs. With broad windscreens facing instrumentation – including radar, satellite navigation and performance – all monitors and panel switches are arranged within easy scan and reach.
  18. To port is a computerized nav station. Alarm systems, including engine room, bilge, fire, and fuel tank capacities, are monitored continuously from this central location. A passageway forward of the bridge leads to the Crew quarters, located in the forepeak, with a separate kitchen; four cabins with bunk beds; plus the Captain’s quarters with a double berth.
  19. On the lower deck the massive, 28’ beam-wide Master Stateroom continues the Mondrian theme with strict architectural adherence. Red, white, and black dominate and reverberate even in casual furniture and wall panels. A large overhead mirror reflects the wide use of wenge African hardwood on the floors. Green/black Crocodile leather adorns the king-size berth head board.
  20. This close-up of the seating area displays its strict attention to the modern architectural plan. The lamp shade is burnished gold.
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