This year, Damen expanded its Yacht Support Vessel line in two ways: by showing the finished YS 4508 Joy Rider, the shipyard began building the flagship.
What steel yacht can you buy for 12 million euros? The choice is quite large: this budget includes, for example, “pocket” superyachts like the Mulder ThirtySix or explorers from the Cantieri delle Marche line with a length of about 35 m. With transition-type hulls, they develop at a maximum of about 15 knots, while the power reserve reaches 5000 miles. and on such boats, 8-10 passengers may well combine a Mediterranean-style vacation with autonomous cruises in the remote waters of the planet.
But what if you want more? For example, use a helicopter, keep on board a mini-submarine or a speedboat with a closed warm wheelhouse for radial trips to photo hunting for icebergs, whales and polar bears? Here you need something different, reliable, seaworthy and very roomy. Of course, you can order a custom project and try to build it, say, in Turkey, but it will take a lot of time and effort. And you can pay attention to the youngest model in the line of Damen Yacht Support vessels and in just a year get a boat with very serious capabilities.
Meet Joy Ryder, the newest and youngest in Damen’s line of support vessels, launched in late summer to take part in the fall yachting shows. In Cannes, we managed to visit the Joy Rider in the raid and even take a short ride on it.
Just arriving from the shipyard, the 46-meter YS 4508 looks more like a Coast Guard ship, unarmed, than a superyacht. This is dictated not only by its angular forms, but also by the finishing characteristic of the working fleet: simple hull painting, bare or covered decks with artificial material, practical, no frills, interior. The Joy Rider has compact (but not cramped) cabins for six passengers and seven crew; galley combined with the crew dining room; a saloon reminiscent of a wardroom and a cockpit glazed around the perimeter – a kind of airfield control tower in miniature. Not rich? Perhaps, if you do not take into account the open deck 8.2 m wide and half the hull. This is the main trump card of the YS 4508, and how to use it depends entirely on the owner.
Dossier YS 4508 Joy Rider
3.00 m (full)
310 reg. t
310 reg. t
2 × Caterpillar C32 TTA (1216 HP)
5000 miles (at 12 knots)
Cargo deck area:
120 sq. m
Net deck capacity:
An articulated crane with a lifting capacity of 6.7 t with an outreach of 7.4 m (3 t with a maximum outreach of 13.5 m) is installed amidships on the Joy Rider. It works equally effectively on both sides (Quantum zero speed stabilizers are useful), and in the stowed position the arrow is grouped into a baby’s pose and does not take up space. I will list the main types of equipment that Joy Rider allows you to take with you on an expedition, and everyone will have their own model of their operation. So: a boat up to 15 m long or several tenders of a shorter length, a seaplane (for example, Seawind), aquabikes, ATVs, buggies or off-road vehicles, canoes, kayaks and sailing dinghies, a diving center with a mobile pressure chamber based on standard containers, a mini-submarine and an ROV … I note that even on a 46-meter yacht, the shipyard can install an optional A-frame crane in the stern (A-frame), with which it is more convenient and safer to lower and raise the bathyscaphe. It is advisable to order it in the early stages of construction, since the manufacture and installation of this structure takes about four months.
Damen remains confident in the success of the Yacht Support Vessel concept
If the deck is free of equipment, then the Joy Rider can receive helicopters with a maximum take-off weight of up to 3.7 tons, for example, the Airbus ACH135. The vessel is not enough for the equipment of a certified helipad, therefore it will not work to store and refuel the board on it, but it is possible to add a refueling station for jet skis, tenders and other equipment. They did not install it on the Joy Rider and confined themselves to a special explosion-proof compartment in the stern, where cans of gasoline are stored (the vessel was built under the supervision of Bureau Veritas).
Finally, no one prohibits the use of the deck as a “beach”, throwing everything that floats into the water at the anchorage. Sun beds and other folding furniture, quick-detachable awnings, mobile grill / barbecue, fridge with drinks … – and consider that the day was a success. And in the evening, a quick change of scenery – and now the deck has turned into a dance floor: the DJ sets the mood, a disco ball rotates on the crane boom, the catering waiters offer guests delicacies … And you don’t have to worry that someone accidentally spills red wine or drops a cake: the artificial teak will endure and not that.
If you’ve noticed, so far we’ve only talked about the Joy Rider as a self-sufficient boat, although of course many of the 15 Damen YSVs built to date function as superyacht support vessels. The fact is that the company began to notice the tendency of the owners to use them independently of the mother yacht, staying on board for a long time. As before, the shipyard offers for this occasion a luxury finish of any level of complexity (you can arrange a YSV no less elegantly than a superyacht, but the timing and cost will differ), and now it also purposefully builds hulls for them.
Previously, Damen used the Sea Ax hulls it always had in stock for YSVs for the Coast Guard and the offshore industry, but this practice was discontinued this year. According to Salmar Spijker, Design Engineer at Damen, the reason for this decision is that customer requirements for support vessels have become too different from what the original projects proposed (up to 40%). Therefore, it is cheaper to lay the cases for them from scratch, and not to alter the existing ones, lengthening and rebuilding them inside.
At the time of the Cannes Yachting Festival, Damen had the only ready-made hull for the YSV with a length of 55 m in stock, while all the following hulls will be built at the company’s factories in Poland, Turkey and Romania as orders come in, and will be retrofitted in the Netherlands. Another possible reason for changing the previous scheme could be the requirements of IMO Tier III, because by 2021 Damen will have to modify the existing or develop a new technical platform for the entire YSV line, adding exhaust gas treatment modules in the engine compartments.
While Joy Rider was making a circle of honor between the Lerins Islands and the cliffs of the Esterel Massif, I asked the captain hired to ferry the ship from Holland to the French Riviera about his impressions of this eight-day cruise.
After passing the Strait of Gibraltar, off the coast of Portugal, we got into a strong storm, – said the captain. – The height of the waves reached eight meters, and sometimes they even covered the smoke torches fixed outside the wheelhouse. The ship performed well and we managed to maintain a cruising speed of 14 knots. I especially like the fact that even when the nose is completely flooded with water, the food remains relatively dry. I work in the offshore industry where bad weather constantly has to deal with, and I can say that Joy Rider stands out in terms of its ability to maintain high speed in a storm. The shipyard has perfectly mastered the design and production of ships of this type, and during the whole journey we did not have a single technical problem. This ship is easy to control – just five people. I would easily go across the ocean on it.
It is difficult to add anything to this comprehensive Joy Rider specification, except to mention the extremely low operating costs, which here are not comparable to those of superyachts of equal length.
Damen remains confident in the success of the Yacht Support Vessel concept and is unconcerned about the growing number of smaller composite counterparts, knowing that their vessels are much better suited for any serious business. By building the YS 4508, the company is trying to test the market at the lower end of this segment, while the highest customer demand is still directed to vessels in the 50-60 m range, where there is even internal competition with its own boats from the secondary market.
“Kid” Joy Rider expectedly caught the attention of the public at the Monaco Yacht Show and sailed across the ocean in October to take part in the FLIBS and possibly find his owner there. Meanwhile, Damen has begun construction of a flagship support vessel YS 7512, which will be delivered to the customer in 2022. The capacity of the new 75 m model will be 1900 reg. tons, and, in addition to a variety of equipment and technology, there are cabins for 45 people on board, which will include passengers, crew, as well as specialists from various fields. I dare to assume that the Dutch will not stop there.