It had been weeks of rain and iron gray skies since the turn of the new year. Day after day of downpours and cold winds. In January alone, it rained 28 out of 31 days – tying with the all-time record (set in 2006 and 1953) of rainy January days. Cold, gray, and wet aren’t exactly ideal boating conditions, especially if the mission is to photograph the new Ocean Alexander 90R, luxury motoryacht. Then Valentine’s Day came, the rain stopped, and we got lucky.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world with candy, flowers, and gifts exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of the mysterious St. Valentine. Fortunately, we have a more tangible symbol of Cupid. The naked cherub definitely worked his magic in Seattle on this sunny February 14th, because only a few moments passed after setting foot inside the 90R, and I was hooked.
Our captain for the shoot was Tim Curry, Alexander Marine USA’s West Coast Director of Service Operations. Tim’s reputation and experience with Ocean Alexander yachts makes him the go-to for all questions relating to these boats. “I don’t mean to pat myself on the back,” he says as he reaches over his shoulder and pats himself on the back, “but if you dig around the Ocean Alexander website long enough, eventually you find my phone number.”
A native Seattleite, Tim became a merchant seaman right out of high school and has been on boats ever since.
“There are very few people out there with my level of boat experience. And what I enjoy most is helping people with their Ocean Alexander,” he shares before picking up an incoming phone call.
After getting settled on the boat and letting the heat permeate the bridge, Tim explained that he was going to ready the yacht for our departure. Our plan was to leave the slip in Lake Union, head through the Montlake Cut and meet up with NWY Creative Director Alex Kwanten, who would be shooting from shore. With the dock lines, fenders, and all those necessary checklist items required to leave the marina, I was surprised that with a yacht nearly 100 feet long, more hands were not on board to assist with the effort.
“Can I help?” I offered, excited to participate in what would most certainly be a rare occasion to play crew on a million-dollar luxury yacht. “Thanks, but no! I got it!” With that, he vanished to the lower decks.
I caught sight of Tim on the security monitor streaming live views from the cameras positioned on board. He was handling dock lines with great precision and speed. Next thing you know, we started moving but Tim was STILL on the dock and there was no one at the helm!
It turns out that Tim was operating the boat with the magical Glendinning handheld remote control, one of the many special features of the 90R that makes her so user-friendly. With a 35-foot cable attached, it gives boat operators total control of both transmission and throttle from either side of the boat.
The portable control station puts the same operational features of the 90R’s fixed control station into the boat operator’s hands, which makes for easier docking and maneuvering – especially in tight spots. Discovering this, I had an ah-ha moment that cemented the handling ease of the 90R in my mind, and I understood how Tim previously singlehanded the 90R through the Ballard Locks and up to Anacortes. With this device in hand, it doesn’t take a village to control her.
Armed with the knowledge that the 90R has essentially a mobile helm, I relaxed and started poking around her for a better look. What was immediately noticeable was how quiet she was for a yacht her size. I expected big engines to make big sounds, and in turn make big vibrations, but none of these assumptions rang true.
In fact, before pulling out of her slip I had noticed a silver tray on the wet bar surface with tastefully placed martini glassware. I made a mental note to save the day and pull the staged pieces to safety before heading into the Montlake Cut, where they would most certainly fall to the ground and break into a thousand pieces.
The Ocean Alexander 90R is big, bold, and beautiful, and she represents the impressive collaboration between visionary designer Evan K. Marshall and Arrabito Naval Architects. With a length of 90 feet, and a beam of slightly over 22 feet, Marshall was clearly on top of his game with the 90R yacht design.
Marshall grew up near Central Park in New York City, surrounded by the cutting edge of design and architecture. He has been known to say that if he wasn’t a designer, he would most assuredly be an architect – which is evident in the care and attention to space in his work. Not surprisingly, his favorite architectural structure is the Guggenheim Museum designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), an American architect and designer who believed in designing buildings that were in harmony with their environment.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural influences are easily identified in Marshall’s yacht designs, including the Ocean Alexander 90R. The clean lines, modern simplicity, and the integration of window design reflects the “form follows function” principle associated with late 19th and early 20th century architecture and industrial design.
This principle suggests that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose and the 90R nails it. With oversized windows on all decks, the 90R floods the interior with natural light and brings in the outdoors, a basic tenant of Wright’s architecture.
The transit through the Montlake Cut in a multi-million-dollar yacht was a new experience for me. I’ve done this connector between Lake Union and Lake Washington many times before, but mostly in a single kayak or a small power boat. Missing in this luxurious experience was the urgency to paddle harder or give it some gas to maintain some control through the swirling waters that typically rock everyone (or everything) from side to side. Not even those martini glasses budged from their spots, and no, they were not taped down.
This yacht provides an environment that is comfortable, stylish, and deeply impressive. The wide beam allows for spacious open floor plans that create exceptional space for indoor and outdoor entertaining and living.
With four spacious staterooms, seven heads, a full-size galley, tasteful salon, and wet bars strategically placed on all decks, this is an impressive boat that provides an owner with thoughtful and stylish amenities that characterize so much of Marshall’s designs. Wood accents and finely finished cabinetry throughout creates sumptuous surroundings while maintaining simplicity.
There are some distinctive qualities found in all four staterooms. The oversized windows provide fantastic natural light and spectacular views. Marine window film on the windows ensures full privacy from the outside without sacrificing visibility from the inside. The staterooms also feature cedar-lined, walk-in closets with built-in drawers that light up with the press of a button.
One of the master suites features a king-size bed, while all other staterooms can be configured with queens or twins. Each stateroom has its own spacious head with granite countertops, and one en suite decadently offers two separate heads with a shared shower in the middle. Between the finishing details and built-ins, all the staterooms share qualities of luxury and efficiency. They have been designed for privacy and to keep all persons on board comfortable in their home away from home.
The salon features a formal dining room table with seating for eight and another large seating area designed to create a dynamic modern feel without sacrificing comfort. There is also a wet bar with double sink next to the dining room table that can be retracted to a full countertop for food presentation. Touch screens located throughout the 90R control the inset mood lighting, room temperature, recessed TV screens, and speaker functions, adding to the ease of commanding one’s surroundings.
From the main salon, a set of pocket doors opens into a spacious and gorgeous galley. I liked this layout, as it keeps the potentially distracting sounds of food prep or clean up that may be coming from the galley from disrupting the conversations happening at the dinner table. The full-sized refrigerator, freezer, and other appliances in the galley will make everyone on board happy and there’s plenty of space for several cooks to work in the galley at once.
There is also plenty of storage space. I love cooking aboard, and during our transit to Leschi, I mentally “moved in” thinking about placing all my own kitchen tools in the galley. It’s a strange happenstance, but have you noticed at most parties that people inevitably gather in the kitchen? I really love that the 90R galley has a built-in seating area with a small slider table designed for those who like to spectate in the galley over a glass of wine or cup of coffee.
All the while, Tim was at the helm receiving instructions from ashore to make a slight turn to port or a 45 degree move to starboard. There was a spectacular break in the clouds that gave way to a wonderful beam of sunlight and the idea was to line up the 90R in Mother Nature’s perfect spotlight. For her part, the 90R was fully responsive and her agility pure. Maneuvering her into place was like magic.
From the aft side of the salon, double-sized, floor to ceiling glass doors open at the push of a button to reveal an outdoor bar and exquisite aft deck.
Expansive teak decks combined with wide steps and walkways make getting around her easy for all. The elegant exterior seating areas are designed for entertaining and offer comfortable seating for any number of guests, complete with wet bars and well-placed mesh sunshades that provide shade without compromising light.
The helm, located in the enclosed bridge deck, is a skipper’s dream with fully functioning touch screens and the latest aeronautical-inspired technology to make travel on the 90R safe, efficient, and as easy as possible. Ocean Alexander has used the latest glass technology and engineering, employing large plates of glass to present a nearly 360-degree view. From the captain’s chair, I could clearly see the bow.
The Octoplex system, a program that gives easy monitoring and control of all the electrical systems on board, is just one example of those sophisticated systems that are included as standard. It was originally designed for the aerospace industry and other “zero failure tolerant” environments. Having it on the 90R provides great security for offshore adventures, and I imagined myself at the helm crossing the Pacific.
I noticed the walnut flooring in the pilothouse, which I learned is a custom product for Ocean Alexander yachts and provides a rich and traditional feel. The specialty lighting, walnut flooring, and superior visibility creates a bridge space that’s special whether anchored or enjoying top speeds of 24 knots while underway.
The lowest aft deck features a fun beach club room behind the black slider doors that open to a spacious teak swim deck. This room is unique in that it creates an amazing outdoor space with moveable furniture, a wet bar, and all the electronic bells and whistles. I imagined that this would be where the teenagers might hang out as it is private, has electronics galore, and is closest to all the water toys.
After looking at my photo of this space, my friend Brad Cole, who runs Prism Graphics in Seattle and who specializes in boat graphics, commented on how impressed he was with the 90R’s amenities. He said, “That rear sliding glass door is amazing, other than it leaves me no place to put a name!” I’m certain that in time, Cole and his team will have no shortage of exterior real estate on the 90R to find a suitable place for her name in the future.
The 90R comes complete with crew quarters that include a captain’s room and two additional crew bunks. Included in the crew quarters is a head, separate washer and dryer, and a small kitchenette. When I first boarded the 90R, I assumed that having a full-time crew would be a requirement for a yacht her size. But after watching Tim at the helm, I began to think differently. She is a yacht that has been designed to be owner operated, and though a crew is an option, it most certainly isn’t a requirement on the Ocean Alexander 90R.
Only three 90Rs have been built at the time of this writing. Two are located on the East Coast, and this one, moored at Alexander Marine on Lake Union in Seattle. And that’s it.
All three were made at Ocean Alexander’s factory in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Many of the 90R standards exceed the expectations of any yacht her size, and she would be an excellent choice for new or seasoned yachters.
You’ll be in good company with the 90R and she’s most certainly an attention grabber. As we glided back to the docks on Lake Union, it wasn’t hard to notice people on the shore pausing to snap a shot of her majestically gliding by. Valentine’s Day 2020 will always go down as the day I fell in love with the Ocean Alexander 90R.
And don’t forget, if you ever have a question about how to operate her or where to place her name, you can always call Tim.