Royal yacht | STALCA
If you were to be a glamourous European Royal, or a Hollywood star, followed by both court protocol and persistent paparazzi, where would you hide away? Where would you look to find some space and time alone with your family?
For Princess Grace of Monaco those questions were quite pertinent. “I have many duties and obligations of state along with my husband,” she told a US newspaper in 1971, “but my family comes first.”
In the early 1970s she and her husband, Prince Rainier III, commissioned the Dutch shipyard Visch-Holland to custom build them a 25 meter yacht. While other Royal families were cruising luxurious superyachts, full with crew and guests, turning heads everywhere they went, Stalca was a conscious decision, to keep a low profile and hide in plain sight. A 25m yacht was not considered small by that time’s standards, but it was too small for guests and did not require many crew members. But most important of all, it did not attract any unwanted attention. Maybe the reason why there are so few photographs of Stalca today is because the Grimaldis’ discretion worked.
With four guest cabins, a master suite, a VIP and two double bunk cabins, Stalca had room for family, although a royal family, and little else. Crew quarters could sleep only two, everything and everyone else had to stay ashore. Even the yacht’s name includes family names and nothing else. It is a habit by the Monaco Royal family to have composed names yachts: Princes Rainier and Grace used for their second yacht STALCA St(ephanie), Al(bert), Ca(roline), after naming Albercaro; Alber (t) and Caro(line) their first yacht. Princess Stephanie, in her turn, named her yacht “Louine”, after her two first kids, Lou(is) and (Paul)ine.
Over the years Stalca has changed names, hands and homeport a few times, and in 2010/11 she got a complete rebuild. Essentially, she was the perfect fit for her new owners, their two children and grandchild. They loved the provenance, the balance, the proportions and the strength of the boat, but didn’t want to be stuck in Stalca’s history and not over-emphasise the fact she was a royal yacht, but rather live on her as Grace had done; in comfort, discreet and, well, graceful.
After enjoying their first summer aboard, the current owners wanted to take Stalca beyond the Mediterranean. They also wished to charter the yacht on the moments they weren’t using her, so she was brought up to MCA Safety Standards.
During her comprehensive rebuild they wanted to make Stalca a truly seaworthy yacht. Her owners won advice from STP. “STP has an open management model and does not dedicate itself directly to the refit, but to the management of the space and to the services of lifting, launching, standing and water and electricity, among others,” says STP manager Joan Rosselló.
“For this reason, we are positively valued by captains and boat owners who want to choose specific companies to carry out each job. In the case of Stalca, they contacted the best specialists in paint, bilges, plumbing, air conditioning, engines, electricity, furnishing and interiors for their refit. Customers appreciate our system because it allows them to control quality and their budget.”
To implement the MCA requirements for the yacht, handrails, stanchions and even the bow had to be at a higher position. Eventually they upraised the bulwark, and it gives Stalca not only MCA safety, but it also makes for a very nice and discreet foredeck, where you can relax on loungers, catch the sun and no one can see you.
Vintage photos of Stalca show that the top deck was not a living space when she was a royal yacht. Only access to that area used to stow a zodiac type tender and steep companionway in the crew cabin. During the refit there was a retractable stair added from the main deck aft and made what used to be a storage space with outdoor helm, a relaxing sundeck.
The ambition from the start of the refit project was to keep Stalca as similar to her original design as possible. Where possible she was reconditioned, but some things were too far gone. The ship’s bell, which proudly reads “Stalca Monaco”, is still original. Installing all new technology aboard of a vintage yacht has many advantages. Today’s technology is more advanced and you can get lots more in less space; The large teak box in the pilothouse that held the old SBB radio became a wine cellar. Large and cumbersome AC units have traded place for more cabin space and smaller, more efficient units have been installed directly into existing furniture. Another former AC cover now houses a rectable flatscreen TV and Sonos Sound System. One old-fashioned feature that was kept, much at the Captain’s delight, are the sturdy Caterpillar engines.
After the hull, systems and wiring were brought up to modern standards, the interior was addressed. Even though there is a whole new style implemented, they also tried to keep close to her original design, respecting her patina. This meant sanding off layers of varnish that made banisters sticky and waxing the teak pealing; cleaning up the portholes, but respecting their original finish; deciding that chrome, rather than brass, would be the metal finish of choice throughout.
Stripping back the “princess” touch they added by refit in 1982 and 2001, they freed up the main saloon space, which now has a rosewood and chrome Pieff side table that has been fully adapted for marine use. Other design pieces are Merrow Associates side tables, vintage Spanish leather armchairs and Italian leather couches. The colour theme that is used is cream and royal blue with orange accents. Most fabrics are jane Churchill to soften up the interiors and provide comfort. The ceilings have Alcantara panels and where possible the table tops are lined with leather.
In the walls you will find stylish prints by artists like Mirò, Chagall and Sir Terry Frost, who captured the spirit of the French Riviera in the 1970s. An Eileen Gray carpet in the main saloon is in a pattern called Blue Marine, also the name of a charity that both Prince Albert and Andrew Winch support.
We now offer you the opportunity to charter or even own this built-for-a-princess yacht, at a relatively low price compared to most ships of Stalca’s size. Request your brochures of choice here: