Capt. Steve Says
As these are customizable boats, the first piece of the build puzzle starts with determining the customer’s specific needs and types of cruising. Below are two of the most popular layouts, and obviously they define two distinct customers. In both cases, the master is aft, and Vri-Jon has done an excellent job with the master layout in that there is a separate head and shower that allows two people to ready themselves for an evening out at the same time. In the second layout, the head compartments can be accessed by guests in the forward compartment.In the drawings and photos presented here, the center of the boat is home to the spacious main saloon with a C-shaped settee to starboard, and entertainment center to port. Forward of this area is where we see the main differences between the two layouts pictured.
To starboard is a large galley, which plays a big part in Vri-Jon customers feeling right at home, and opposite is either storage, or a booth-style dining area. Fully forward, the area is either a dining area, or sleeping area. For a couple touring alone, the rounded seating tucked into the bow with much open space throughout the rest of the living area.
Topside, the portside helm is on a raised deck for improved visibility. To allow for continuing under the lower fixed bridges, the radar arch, as well as the windshield, is hinged to significantly lower the yacht’s profile.
With a LOA of 12.1 m (39.7’) and a beam of 3.8 m (12.5’) the Contessa 40 is an ideal size for a cruising couple or small family. While small enough to be easily manageable, her interior volume is much larger than a comparable express cruiser. And with 650L (171.7 gal) fuel capacity, you’ll be able to cruise a long way between fill-ups.On the boat pictured here there is a single diesel engine and both a bow and a stern thruster. The small, single diesel makes for very economical cruising, which is what the boat's designed for both in canals and rivers in Europe, as well as coastal work in the English Channel and North Sea. The bow and stern thruster make tying up anywhere a piece of cake.
Steel Hulls are Great
Steel is an ideal material for cruising boats doing this kind of work. Rivers and canals can be dirty, in busy ports there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam in the water, passages under bridges can be narrow and low, and in some places one might have to raft up for the night alongside a commercial barge. All of this is much less worrisome with a steel hulled boat vs. one that is fiberglass coated in delicate gel coat. Scratches, dings and black tire-fender marks are no problem and are all in a day’s work for a steel boat. In this day and age with chartplotters and depth sounders there is really no reason to ever run aground, but if you do, particularly in rocky conditions, there is nothing better underneath than good old steel. It is your best protection from puncturing. Finally, when you go to sell your boat after, say, 10 years, you can make her exterior look as good as new simply by having the boat yard apply a fresh coat of paint.
Ideal for Europe
Europe, Ireland, Russia and the UK all have extensive canal and river systems which are delightful to explore. Most large cities in France, Germany, Belgium, and Holland can be visited by water. Best of all, invariably the rivers and canals pass right through the old parts of the cities, just the place with all of the good restaurants and pleasant touring. You can travel from the Baltic to the Med without ever having to go into the Atlantic. Best of all for people prone to mal de mer: few people get that dreaded affliction on rivers and canals.
Not Just for Canals
The Contessa 40 is a very capable boat and is equally good for coastwise cruising. In the U.S. she would make a very pleasant ICW passagemaker, in addition to cruising from New York to Maine, the Great Lakes, or from Seattle up the Inside Passage to Alaska. There are other places in the world where we can see these boats being used successfully, such as from Carins, Australia north behind the Great Barrier Reef up to the Coral Sea, in the Red Sea, several places in South America, along the Scandinavian coasts, the Dalmatian Coast, Greek Islands, or Turkish coast.
Vri-Jon Customization Is Key
Because the Contessa 40 is not a twin engine, high speed cruiser she does not have to be particularly fine forward, nor does she have to have a deep-V bottom design, as do most motoryachts and express cruisers in this size range. While it is never talked about, these two aspects of more contemporary cruising boats rob lots of usable living space from the overall dimensions. A fine bow forces accommodations to be moved aft before there is enough beam width to be useful in a cabin. The sharp forefoot means that there is very little space for a cabin sole and this is why so many cruising boats have island berths in the forward cabin. The deep-V carried aft limits how far outboard the cabin soles can extend, further limiting the accommodations plan.Because the Vri-Jon will customize the Contessa 40, a buyer is not limited by those constraints. That means that a large, roomy cabin can be put forward, and most of the beam can be used in the layout. We can easily picture a three-stateroom boat in the Contessa 40, and there is certainly room for a second head. Going the other way --- that is a boat for just a couple – we can easily imagine an office work station below, or a cozy saloon with comfortable chairs replacing the bench seat and maybe even a gas fireplace. (We have seen this done and it is everyone’s favorite place to be!) That is the great thing about a fully customized boat – you can have it nearly anyway you want.The only limit is your own imagination (and wallet).
There are very few yacht yards in the world building in steel, but many of the ones that do exist are in Holland. Even fewer yards are building steel boats in the 40’ range. And still fewer are willing, as is Vri-Jon to build a fully customizable boat at 40.’ So when it comes to yacht building, particularly steel yacht building there is no better place to look than Holland, and if you want a custom steel power cruiser, Vri-Jon is a good place to start. And, another thing to consider – the Netherlands is where yachting started in the first place, so these people should know what they are doing!
Standard and Optional Features
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