There is a tendency in marine circles to glue the word ‘deck’ to a thing and pretend that makes it more special. Think about it - deckshoes, deckhands, deckchairs, deckheads – all perfectly commonplace things in pursuit of esoteric appeal (follow the link to see what I really think of deckshoes). And when you start talking about types of deck, it gets even worse. We’ve apparently moved on from sensible things like foredecks, poopdecks and flydecks to ludicrous things like sundecks, sportdecks and even spacedecks. So when I heard about a new ‘Skydeck’ from Polish builder, Galeon, I was massively nonplussed and resolved to march along to their stand at the Dusseldorf Boat Show to jab a mocking finger at this absurd new concept. But on arrival, it turned out that ‘Skydeck’ didn’t just mean something sensible; it meant something rather brilliant...
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The Skydeck concept
The Skydeck is basically Galeon’s attempt to combine the best features of the Flybridge with those of the Hard Top. On the one hand, the designers wanted to preserve the extra accommodation and secondary helm of the third (upper) deck, and on the other they wanted to keep the main deck bright and spacious with plenty of natural light and attractively low-profile lines. In order to perform this magic trick, they have moved the flybridge further aft and dropped it down so it sits deepset above the stern sections of the saloon and cockpit. This generates a proper space behind the main screen for a large sunroof, which opens up to flood the lower helm with natural light. So far so good, but it’s plain that the designers have gone much further than that...
For instance, the fact that the flydeck is pushed aft obviously means that it extends above the open spaces down below. To remedy this, see-through panels are built into the structure of the bridge to keep the aft cockpit bathed in light. Meanwhile, down below, you see an even more inspired twist of designer zeal with the traditional fixed staircase ousted by a much more sensible drop-down ladder. It generates lots of extra space, which is used to the utmost by a superbly conceived seating arrangement. It might look quite smooth and simplistic but if you look closely at the modular design, it provides no fewer than five different layouts, from separate loungers to a dinette or a complete sunpad – and the provision of an extended hydraulic swim platform makes an excellent space even better.
Step inside and it is plain that in order to accommodate the flybridge’s deepset placement, the saloon has been arranged over two tiers. It stays at cockpit level in the aft section and then steps up to the helm in a way that mirrors the elevation from the sole of the fly to the opening sunroof. Headroom is good, light is fantastic and with the promise of versatile seating here, on the aft deck and on the upper tier, the positioning of the galley on the main deck is by no means an obstacle to decadence.
Three clever cabins
As you head down below, you expect to witness the point at which the freehand playfulness of the upper decks generates the crunch compromise – but with sleeping for six in three cabins (and the option of turning the port cabin into a galley to increase the main deck space), it seems that the 430 has no obvious weakness. Plainly, the two cabins are compact – little bigger in terms of their footprint than the twin beds they contain. But they can both be converted from their standard twin layout into enormous cabin-filling doubles and with very respectable headroom, allied to good light from the broad central stairwell, there’s nothing to complain about here. Well nothing that is except the choice of fabrics...
The boat in general seems to pursue a radical ‘black-versus-white’ stylistic theme and down below, it’s all a bit much. The glistening granite snakeskin panels, the 80s glamrock bed sheets and the satins, leathers and woods are all mashed up together in fractious disharmony – and while some people will love it, the ‘Controlled-Explosion-of-Experimental-Fabrics’ look is not for me, so I would need to take refuge in the options list.
That aside, however, it is plain that the 430 Skydeck is one of the most impressive debut boats of the year and the price is just as surprising. You might reasonably expect a well-appointed 43-foot flybridge cruiser to come in at around 550,000 Euros (£450,000), but the Galeon undercuts that by a massive 30%. It can in fact be yours for 389,400 Euros (£300,000) – and while in some cases, such an accessible sum might condemn you to a bout of pained introspection over the dubious merits of false economy, both the 430’s sheer cleverness and its remarkable quality of execution do a great deal to eradicate any doubt.
The 430 is also available in Hard Top and Flybridge form, but it would be folly to ignore the glaring merits of the Skydeck. After all, this is a 43-footer that manages to combine both a flybridge and a sunroof on the same platform. It offers low-profile looks and minimal windage, plus class-leading natural light, a superbly versatile and uncluttered aft deck, comfortable sleeping for six and some sensible options regarding the all-important placement of the galley. It is no surprise therefore that Galeon is making positive moves to expand the reach of this impressive new design, not just with the award-winning 700 Skydeck, but also with the 560 and 820, which are both now in the project stages. Plainly they know when they’re onto a good thing – and frankly, so do I. We still have to see this thing on the water, but if I were in the market for a fly-equipped cruiser, I wouldn’t commit to anything until I had tried this first.
Galeon 430 Skydeck Specifications
Fuel capacity: 1,100 litres
People capacity: 12
Sleeping capacity: 6
Power: twin 260-435hp
Price: 389,000 Euros (£320,000)
For more highlights from the Dusseldorf boat show see: Galeon and Brioni: The Dreamboats of Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf Boat Show – Six Outstanding Powerboats, Sealine F38 video: quick tour, Rinker Captiva 236 CC review: design delights.