Issue: September 2002
The Renaissance period from the 14th to the 16th century is generally regarded as the time when style, beauty and grace dawned within the arts. It was a time when artists such as Michelangelo, Bellini, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Donatello inspired the world with their magnificent works of art and inventive thinking.
And walking into the foyer of Palazzo Versace hotel, the Modern Boating team are also inspired. Here was a hotel with a difference. All the style, beauty and grace of the Renaissance reborn right here on Queensland’s Gold Coast. It is a premier destination, within a destination; appropriately known as “paradise”.
Sitting in the poolside bar our senses reeled as the team tried to take in all the beauty that surrounds us. Luxurious carpet, gold-leaf ceiling and decorative silk wall panelling; to call it a bar is an injustice. Huge glass windows provide panoramic views over the man-made lagoon, beyond which lies the reason for our visit, the marina and an equally impressive range of luxurious Ferretti motoryachts.
The Palazzo Versace Marina provides a fitting backdrop for these world-class vessels. And like Ferretti, the Palazzo Versace is all about style and an appreciation of the good things of life. The Ferretti story began in 1968. Brothers Alessandro and Norberto Ferretti’s passion for the sea was realised with the formation of a nautical division in the family company, which at the time sold automobiles. After two years the first Ferretti 10m motorsailer saw the light of day. It was to be the start of an entrepreneurial success story that led to the establishment of one of the world’s leading groups of luxury motoryacht manufacturers.
During the 70s, 80s and 90s, the company carried out extensive research and development, bringing both commercial and sporting success with victories in the 1994 and 1997 Class I World Offshore Powerboat Championships. Ferretti continued to expand quickly acquiring other luxury boat builders along the way. Now the brands Custom Line, Pershing, Riva, Bertram and CRN are all built and marketed by the group.
Norberto Ferretti said “I think of my boats as if I should use them myself. Only then can I trustfully offer them to any of my best friends.” This is the basis for the group’s continued business success.
Norberto also said “I changed from sailing to shipping, but I could start building sailing boats again tomorrow. It’s the boat itself that fascinates me so much, it’s the designing and the researching of new ideas.”
This ideology certainly shows through on the latest Ferretti to grace our shores, the Ferretti 480. The boat is a true Italian stallion that sits well with traditional Ferretti styling. There is a lot of boat perfectly laid out within her 48′ 7″ LOA. A retractable gangway makes boarding the 480 from the marina decking a breeze.
Entering the main cabin is similar to walking into the Palazzo Versace; all the fixtures and fittings are all five-star. Luxurious soft leather upholstery and cherrywood joinery abound. To the port of the sliding glass entry – that lifts completely out of the way to create an open entertaining area between the main saloon and the aft cockpit – is a lavish U-shaped lounge. Sit on this lounge and you become enveloped by the surrounding luxury.
Across the deep-pile carpeted floor is the entertainment centre, which can be viewed from anywhere in the main saloon. By incorporating a sunken galley into the boat’s design, Ferretti creates a feeling of space in the main saloon. This galley is functional and features a full height refrigerator with freezer compartment. Ample cupboard space, electric stove top, microwave oven and a mixer tap with sink are included in the galley.
Forward of the galley is a raised dinette, with twin lounge seating that offers commanding views to all points. It’s a great place to relax and watch the scenery slip by when underway. On the port side is the brilliant helm station, which boasts just about every electronic device known to man. Not really, but it is certainly well appointed. The main feature here is the custom-made stainless steel helm that highlights the company logo and remains available only to Ferretti owners. It’s a bit like club colours. A well-lit stairway leads down to the staterooms and twin bathrooms.
The 480 has three staterooms, two with twin single bunks, a bed-side table and fabric-lined hanging lockers, while the master stateroom features an oversized island bed. A bathroom with shower, vanity unit and marine toilet is located on the port side for guests, while the owner’s cabin has its own en suite. Ferretti cruisers are renowned for the subtle touches included in their manufacture and the 480 is no exception. There’s even the added European touch of a bidet in each of the bathrooms.
Back in the main stateroom, the raised double bed has storage underneath, lined-hanging lockers, usable shelving and soft lighting. This sets a gentle and relaxed mood in the cabin, but there’s another feature here that stands out – room to move. It may not sound like much, but it’s a design feature many cruisers lack.
Moving back into the main saloon the first thing to catch your eye is the unique ladder next to the helm station that leads to the flybridge. It’s more like a work of art than a functional ladder. Another of the Ferretti touches.
The ladder is made from highly polished stainless steel and magnificent timber, which twists its way up through a ceiling hatch. It almost looks too good to use, but use it we did to access the flybridge. Here again we were met by wide-open spaces coupled with a functional layout. A comfy curved lounge fills the rear of the flybridge, while there’s another sunpad/lounge to the port side of the upper helm station. From the bridge the skipper has unimpeded views to all quarters and complete control over the vessel via the dual electronic controls.
We mentioned earlier the Ferretti 480 is a stallion and it’s out on the water that this boat really shines. The boat cruises effortlessly at 26 knots, but as we open her up she roars down the Gold Coast Broadwater pushing the GPS readout to 30 knots. Once out over the bar there is a mountainous sea running. We estimate that the speed of the wind over the bridge, while tracking into the wind, is more than 60 knots.
Although the conditions are extremely bad, in our short run offshore, not once does any spray hit us up on the flybridge. Turns; this boat is a delight. The Ferretti’s solid construction ensured the hull is quiet and stable, but the boat’s ability to turn in this big sea is incredible. It doesn’t matter from what quarter the sea angled, spin the wheel and around she comes. No bouncing, no banging, no hesitation, she’s silky smooth.
What was it Norberto Ferrettis is quoted as saying? “We make em strong so they don’ta spilla the Champagne.” He’s right. The handling capabilities of this boat are exceptional making this boat one of the best rough water hulls we have ever tested in such rough conditions. Nothing phases it.
Back in the Broadwater it’s all smooth sailing as the big Volvos propel the boat effortlessly along. The electronic throttle and gear control levers are as smooth as the steering.
Back at the marina our day out takes on a distinct Aussie flavour as the tinnies are cracked and we continued to marvel at just how well the 480 had performed out on those windswept seas. Good company, cold drinks and a magnificent boat to enjoy it from.
Obviously the Ferretti 480 is up there in the seven-figure price bracket and well outside the reach of the average Joe on the street. But if you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line Italian 48 footer, the Ferretti 480 fills that category effortlessly. Like the Palazzo Versace the Ferretti 480 is special. And she turned out to be a perfect platform to view paradise from – Surfers Paradise that is.
The Ferretti 480 is powered by twin Volvo Penta TAMD 74 EDC 6lt diesels driving through shaft drives. It’s a combination that delivers almost a sportsboat-like performance, which is normally not associated with big cruisers. The engine room itself is large, providing plenty of room around each engine for daily maintenance and regular servicing, but it doesn’t have standing head height.
Soundproofing is also well addressed, allowing a normal conversation to be carried out in the main saloon when underway. A low hum is all that is emitted, even when the hammer is down. The boat cruises effortlessly at 26 knots, but open her up and she’s capable of pushing the GPS readout to 30 knots.
Story by Ian Macrae