- The fact that a boat of this calibre and ingenuity can be purchased ‘off the shelf’ as a standard platform for sensible money is a wonderful thing.
- … the 500 Fly is not just the best yacht in its class, it’s also one of the most ingenious, versatile and gratifying production motor yachts in the world today.
Weird but Wonderful: Galeon 500 Fly
Alex Smith explores the world’s most extraordinary flybridge motor yacht.
It’s very easy to draw pretty pictures of outlandish marine solutions on a vessel that never gets built, but creating fresh ideas that integrate effectively on a realistic production motor yacht is a much more difficult thing. When the 500 Fly from Polish yard Galeon arrived at the 2015 Cannes Boat Show, it was therefore something of a revelation.
A magical main deck
Marine designers are always trying to create ways of generating ‘inside-outside’ spaces, with fluid transitions from internal saloon to external cockpit, broad sliding doors and flush, obstacle-free, single-level decks. But the Galeon designers have taken that principle and pushed it to a much bolder and harder-working extreme.
For a start, the full-height window sections on both sides at the aft end of the superstructure slide forwards inside their housings, opening up the entire lower saloon level to the outside world. This openness is well exploited on the starboard side with a reversible backrest on the lateral bench that enables the saloon occupants to face out towards the sea. And on the port side they’ve gone even further, extending the galley onto the side deck and erecting a pair of removable stools to create a lovely al fresco bar. With the two fold-down bulwarks creating a pair of generous balconies, you can even expand the width of this open aft party zone to an astonishing 20 feet.
The aft deck itself also gets in on the act with a central pod, featuring a C-shaped bench seat and table, that rotates 360 degrees to face in any direction you choose. And if you move forward to the bow, the happy surprises continue with a trio of elevated seating sections around a central table. At the press of a button, you can transform this communal bow unit from a seven-man dining station into a raised two- or three-man sunlounger. It’s very effective and represents a truly radical upgrade over the one-dimensional sun pads so often seen on mid-range motor yacht foredecks.
Back inside, even the helm feels like a special place. The screen comprises a single piece of glass, with no stanchions or uprights to obscure your view, and the dash has been lowered to enable much more expansive visibility from a decadent seated position. There is also a large window on your right shoulder that drops away entirely – and when the driving part of the day is done, the helm bench simply rotates on an offset axis with the smoothest and most reassuring of clunks. Within two seconds you are fully involved in the party, facing the rest of the diners in the forward part of the saloon, and all without having to abandon your station.
Important but dull
The 500’s three-berth accommodation comprises a large en suite master cabin amidships, a compact double bunkroom to starboard and a fine VIP guest double in the bow with a shared heads compartment. Space is excellent, headroom is good, natural light is impressive, and the designs and materials feel very modern and distinctive. Up top, meanwhile, the flybridge comes with a large forward sun platform, a port helm that backs onto a wet bar and a dining section to starboard that can also operate as extra lounging space. It’s a good example of its type, but if you want extra ingenuity here too, check out Galeon’s brilliant ‘Skydeck’ option, with a smaller fly further aft and lower down.
The fact that a boat of this calibre and ingenuity can be purchased ‘off the shelf’ as a standard platform for sensible money is a wonderful thing. From its radically versatile superstructure to the convertible foredeck diner, the comfy, inclusive helm and the huge, party-ready aft deck, this is a beautiful piece of work. More remarkably still, the quality of finish is also the equal of anything else I saw in four days on the hallowed superyacht-strewn catwalks of the Cannes Yachting Festival. In short, the 500 Fly is not just the best yacht in its class, it’s also one of the most ingenious, versatile and gratifying production motor yachts in the world today.
For more information visit www.mgmboats.com.