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Yard No. 5000, Marco Polo II - Progress

Jul 15, 2009

Nine months into the construction of Marco Polo II, Cheoy Lee's 5000th order since modern records began in the 1940's, the yacht is beginning to take shape. Work on the steel hull and composite superstructure is proceeding in parallel, in two different building bays at Cheoy Lee's 'Hin Lee' manufacturing yard in southern China.

Unlike the Cheoy Lee commercial steel vessel range that is built using block construction techniques, the hull of Marco Polo II is being built from the keel up. Block construction is a modern concept, widely used in Asian shipyards, as it allows for more efficient production, particularly of vessels built in series. The hull of Marco Polo II however, features a round bilge design for greater hydrodynamic efficiency, with complex compound curves down her entire length. To ensure continuity and fairness of the steel plates in the hull, in keeping with the vessels luxury yacht status, this more traditional, time consuming, but appropriate 'keel up' method is being used for this project. Like Marco Polo I, this second yacht in the series will use minimal hull fairing, and the fairness of the hull will be testament to the abilities of the highly experienced steel workers at Cheoy Lee.

The superstructure, structurally engineered by High Modulus in New Zealand (see our last newsletter), is being produced in four main parts from male formers. The exterior surface, not having come from a mold, will soon undergo an extensive fairing program to achieve a perfect finish.

There is also a third and important component in Marco Polo II's construction. In a third building bay, Cheoy Lee has constructed a full sized mockup of the vessel. Constructed of plywood, the mock up is an exact scale replica of the real Marco Polo. The mockup is accurate right down to the hull frames and construction members that make up the real thing. As well as being an excellent tool for the owner and interior designers to actually walk through and experience the yacht before the real (and valuable) components are permanently installed on the end product, it is of even greater benefit to the shipyard. In full swing, more than 100 technicians and carpenters may be working on a project of this size at any one time. The vessel soon becomes crowded with the different tradesmen running pipes, cables, cabinetry etc. Progress and worker efficiency becomes limited by the capacity of the yacht to contain them. The mockup alleviates all such pressure. Components from hard piping runs to fine cabinetry can all be custom fitted without a single visit to the yacht under construction.

No doubt, building a 46m (151') plywood motoryacht replica is expensive. The cost however is more than offset by the increase in worker productivity. Less traffic through the product in build, and the benefits to space planning of being able to see and review arrangements (particularly engine room components) before they become set in stone also result in a superior project. It is an approach that Cheoy Lee also uses prior to constructing the first in any new series of production yacht for the same reasons.

Marco Polo II is scheduled for completion in mid 2010. Interested parties should contact Maritime Concept and Construction (Hong Kong) Ltd, Mr. Albrecht Buchner [] or visit http://