Dutch Treat on the High Seas

Zeelander’s exquisite Z55 proves that superyachts don’t have to be huge


Life, they say, is too short to own an ugly boat. How many times have you groaned in horror at some top-heavy, Whirlpool-white, floating RV and asked yourself, “What were they thinking?”

Thankfully, all it takes is one fleeting glance at the Dutch-built masterpiece that is the Zeelander Z55 to know all’s well with the boating world. Those voluptuous curves, that towering flared bow, those truly elegant proportions? Just gorgeous.

Call it retro if you will. Yes, there’s a touch of Hinckley-esque Maine lobster boat in the profile. Plenty of roaring twenties, high-speed New York commuter in that rounded transom. But beneath those classic cues is a thoroughly modern mini-superyacht brimming with the very latest technology, some of the coolest design touches around, and a whole lot of best-of-the-best craftsmanship. Think of an aquatic Bentley Flying Spur and you’d be on the right track.

One of my favorite features? All that teak brightwork edging the deck and pilothouse. Yes, it’s a nightmare to maintain, but gorgeous nevertheless. Only it’s not teak. It’s a tough-as-nails composite, hand-painted by a Dutch artisan in true trompe l’oeil tradition. I defy you to distinguish it from the real thing.

I also love the tender garage. With Volvo Penta IPS drives mounted at the stern, there’s no space for conventional tender storage. Zeelander’s solution? To have a power-lifting panel on the starboard side of the hull. Raise it, and the Williams 285 Jet Tender slides out on rollers and launches itself.

Zeelander has been building this 55-footer since 2016, but has continued to evolve the specs. The latest version—this flag blue–hulled stunner recently delivered to a buyer in Norwalk, Connecticut—comes with the most powerful engines available, a pair of 1,000-hp IPS 1350s. Flat out, they can punch this 24-tonner to a top speed of 42 knots. Throttle back to a still zippy 28 knots and you can cruise for more than 500 nautical miles on a tank.

Another standout feature is the interior, which is the work of Dutch superyacht specialists Sinot. They’ve lavished the insides with a spectacular mix of diamond-quilted upholstery, bleached oak woodwork, and embossed leather-look vinyl.

If ever a boat was designed for the Florida lifestyle it’s this. The open back deck offers a huge seating area for eight, with a table that lowers to make a sunbed. At the press of a button, the transom hinges backward to create a large swim platform.

Speaking of pressing buttons, another will lower the curved glass window separating the aft deck from the galley. Here there are three fixed barstools at the ready for those sunset cocktails. Step into the shade of the air-conditioned pilothouse to enjoy raised sofa seating around the central dining table and 360-degree views for everyone. Just like that Bentley, the sunroof also opens up, ideal for a little nighttime stargazing.

Below deck there’s a trio of cabins. The master is amidships and, amazingly, boasts 6 feet 7 inches of headroom and a bed that measures 6 feet 10 inches long. (Remember, the Dutch, on average, are the world’s tallest people.) Up in the bow is the spacious VIP suite with a bed set on the diagonal to increase the usability of the floor area. Next to it, to starboard, is a compact twin-bunk cabin that’s perfect for kids.

Talking of kids, the lack of handrails around the deck, or a pulpit on the bow for safe anchor handling, would be my only concern. But as every Zeelander, from the “starter” 44 to the best-selling 72, is custom-built, anything is possible. And there’s no need to head to the company’s headquarters in Groot-Ammers, east of Rotterdam, to come up with your wish list. Earlier this year, Zeelander opened its new U.S. headquarters in Fort Lauderdale—naturally—with a full-time sales and service staff.

As for pricing, the conversation starts at around $3 million. But as for owning the prettiest yacht on the water? That’s priceless. 

Power File 

PRICE: From $3 million LENGTH: 55 feet, 7 inches BEAM: 16 feet, 2 inches DRY WEIGHT: 84,800 pounds POWER: 1,000-hp Volvo Penta IPS VOLVO TOP SPEED: 48 mph WHY WE LOVE IT: Because quality, craftsmanship, and superb design come together to create this compact superyacht.

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