Jan Verkerk is renown in superyacht circles. He’s equally passionate about sailing as he is about tackling refit and conversion projects. Verkerk is responsible for some of the most successful transformations of charter yachts around, including Legend. Among all his projects, however, Sherakhan holds special significance. Like other conversions, she has a fascinating story. Yet, her story stands head and shoulders above many, for Verkerk’s sixth sense about superyachts.
First, some history. The 229-foot (70-meter) Sherakhan started out as a Dutch training ship, christened Prinses Margriet in 1966. Sturdy and well built, she was a workhorse. After nearly four decades of service, though, Prinses Margriet was decommissioned, left with an uncertain future. Enter Verkerk, in 2002. Coincidentally, he was seeking a new, challenging yacht project.
Not that he chose to convert the training ship straight away. In fact, initially, he was weighing a new build. He wanted to create a charter yacht to cater to larger charter parties, exceeding 12 passengers. Verkerk even went so far as to commission drawings for a new build, when he learned about Prinses Margriet. Since her hull was in excellent condition, plus she held SOLAS certification—allowing more than 12 passengers—Verkerk changed course.
Applying his prior experience with successful refits as well as his own mechanical skills, Verkerk embarked on a three-year transformation of the ship. “Successful yacht building is about calculating, calculating, and calculating again,” he explains. Verkerk personally took part in redesigning the exterior lines, too, taking inspiration from a 1930s-era yacht he’d admired. The vessel gained a more prominent bow, for instance, as well as a more open canoe stern, to allow guest boarding via a passerelle.
As much as the technical overhaul is noteworthy, involving the replacement of essentially every mechanical system and component, Sherakhan’s interior transformation is the wow factor. Indeed, the biggest wow is, indisputably, the saloon and dining area. Nearly 66 feet (20 meters) long and 30 feet (9 meters) wide, it’s additionally 23 feet (7 meters) high, rising from the main deck through the upper deck. Two open-treads, sweeping staircases constructed of glass and steel frame one end. A skylight, which is actually the glass bottom of the sundeck hot tub, accentuates the ambience both day and night. By day, sunlight filters down, while at night, the hot tub’s custom underwater lighting does the trick.
Then consider the curving, 25-foot-long (7.5-meter-long) wooden dining table. It’s made of white ash, teak, and wenge woods. Its shape mimics the shape of the atrium opening. A white baby grand piano sits in the adjacent lounging area, as does a fireplace.
It’s not every day that a training vessel transforms into a stunning superyacht. Then again, people like Verkerk don’t come along every day, either. All of this earned Sherakhan her own chapter in our book Spectacular Superyachts, as well as the cover. She should earn your charter business as well (book her via Y.CO), if you seek a truly singular experience.