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Sailing on a Silver Cloud

Vero Beach’s Susan Schuyler Smith tackles her biggest challenge yet – designing the interior of a yacht for a round-the-world cruise.

Stability. Susan Schuyler Smith knew that was what Alexander Dreyfoos sought; she also knew it was only a matter of time before he would find what he was looking for and call on her expertise. For over 30 years Susan, president of Spectrum, an award-winning interior design firm in Vero Beach, has not only been friends with the Palm Beach entrepreneur and philanthropist, she has redesigned and furnished his homes, private planes, television studio, marina and yachts.

Driven by a desire to take his wife Renate on an around-the-world cruise, Dreyfoos had been exploring ocean-faring options that would alleviate Renate’s long-standing problem with motion sickness. Eventually he came in contact with the German firm Abeking & Rasmüssen, makers of vessels using SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) technology. With most of the vessel’s displacement below the surface of the water, a SWATH can avoid being affected by the waves.

During a visit to the firm’s headquarters Dreyfoos viewed a video showing a Coast Guard ship pounding through a brutal North Sea chop, water crashing over the top of the wheelhouse. Alongside, exhibiting minimal rolling or pitching, scooted a small red SWATH tender. That was enough to convince Dreyfoos that he and his wife needed to test the tender’s stability on a rough sea day. During a trial demonstration Renate sat happily knitting with nary a sign of seasickness. Her husband had found the stability he sought and Susan got the call she had been expecting.

“This would be the first time the SWATH technology was going to be used for a personal yacht,” she says. “I was involved from the very beginning, designing it the way we would like it to be even before they built the boat, so I was going back and forth between here and Germany for at least three years. You might say I know the Frankfurt airport really well!

Read the entire article in the April 2010 issue