A part-completed Bering 76 hull provided two serial boat owners with a blank canvas to create the heavy-displacement adventure yacht of their dreams...
After many years of high-speed cruising in fibreglass planing boats, two experienced owners decided to investigate the possibilities of longer-range adventures in a seaworthy, heavy-displacement craft.
Their new Bering 76, Lemanja, is a full-custom yacht. This would normally have meant a gap of several years between initial consultations and final launch, but the clients were able to reduce this waiting time by taking over a part-completed project at the Bering shipyard.
The 76fter had originally been commissioned by an American owner, and her empty steel hull and aluminium superstructure lay waiting in the shipyard – a blank canvas for the couple to complete.
Bering was founded in 2007 by Russian-born Alexei Mikhailov, who was brought up during the Soviet era in Magadan, just across the Kamchatka Peninsula from the Bering Sea itself. He’s 59.
He built the first six Berings in China but moved his operation to Turkey to take advantage of the market access and relaxed regulatory and tax regime of the Antalya free port, on Turkey’s southern coast.
Although Lemanja is a one-off, Alexei is now focusing his operation on semi-custom yachts, and in particular Bering’s 75ft and 80ft designs. There are currently 14 boats under construction in the yard.
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They have big plans. When we caught up with them they had only recently taken delivery but had already done one overnighter down to Cyprus and numerous day trips, getting to grips with their new boat, evaluating her handling, and working out how to manage her numerous systems.
The trip along the length of the Med to Gibraltar was to be essentially a shakedown cruise. After that they plan to head north, calling in at Falmouth en route to the Irish Sea, and then, all being well, onwards to the Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and ultimately the US.
It will present quite a learning curve, for Lemanja is a complicated boat. She is built to go to sea, with impressive fuel capacity in seven tanks, and five watertight compartments in her hull, which is of 8mm plate below the waterline and 6mm above. Fully loaded, she displaces close on 150 tonnes.
Her battery power is enough to run all on-board services for 12 hours at anchor without using the generators, and she has a Seatorque drivetrain involving flexible shaft couplings, soft engine mounts and a horizontal prop shaft angle, all of which are designed to reduce noise and vibration to the absolute minimum.
The engines are mounted very low down in the hull. So low, in fact, that the engine room is a two-tier affair, with immediate access through the watertight door to the generators and to the technical area in the lazarette, while the twin Cummins diesels lurk beneath the shiny treadplate underfoot.
Apparently it’s just a five-minute job to unscrew the plates if you need to get to them. Lemanja has a long, open-plan main deck arrangement with an informal seating area communicating with the cockpit, an expansive marble-topped bar and galley, and an excellent dining area forward surrounded by windows with a door out to the side deck.
It looks like the interior of a modern motor yacht rather than an ocean passagemaker – my first thought was that the galley worktop could probably benefit from some taller fiddle rails – but it’s down below where the owners’ cruising ambitions are given more expression.
Drafted originally for four cabins, Lemanja has just three, with the entirety of the starboard guest cabin area given over to food storage and refrigeration – a pantry of the size you might find on a superyacht.
Elsewhere on the lower deck Lemanja’s midships owner’s cabin, forward VIP and port-side guest double all have full-size beds, generous headroom and plenty of stowage space, including an impressive walk-in wardrobe in the master.
The double berth in the forward cabin is rather high – the owners wanted it to be a full 6ft (1.83m) wide, which meant it had to go up into the flare of the bow. But as he pointed out, this has provided a lot of extra space beneath the mattress for stowage, in addition to the huge drawers under the foot of the bed.
We met the owners in Antalya early one morning, not far from Bering’s. There is a slightly developing-world aura to the shipyard, as if Western standards of health and safety have yet to make inroads.
This refreshing air of improvisation comes with a downside, of course – you have to watch your step lest you gouge your ankle on an offcut of steel plate, or plunge down an unguarded hatchway – but as a counter, the yard likes all its customers to engage a surveyor to keep a close eye on the build of their yachts.
“We insist on having surveyors,” says Alexei. “Captains don’t know enough. We learn a lot from our owners’ surveyors.” They will certainly have learned plenty from Lemanja’s. When the yacht was launched, his German surveyor found no fewer than 320 snags, mostly minor, but the owners say they were all dealt with efficiently.
Perhaps the most significant concerned the issue of ballast. At the surveyor’s recommendation more than nine tonnes of it were added to Lemanja, low down in the hull, which the owners reckon have stiffened her up considerably.
Lemanja’s beam of less than 20 feet was specified by the original US client to suit his berth in Florida, and she has quite a slender planform for her length and height. Bering’s 75 semi-custom model, in contrast, is nearly 5ft wider.
There was a slightly gloomy quality to our test day, with a grey overcast sky and the snow-capped peaks of the Taurus mountains just inland lending a slight chill to the scene. But conditions were benign enough, and the sea was calm as we set off from Setur Marina for our cruise down to Kemer.
With the wheelhouse on the upper deck so far from the engines we expected it to be quiet but 43dB(A) at ten knots seemed pretty impressive. Progress was calm and very relaxing – just what you want in a long-range cruiser – and we recorded a two-way maximum speed of 11.5 knots, although the owners felt that between 8.5 and 9.5 knots would give the best combination of speed and fuel economy.
Lemanja’s range is vast – over 4,500nm at 8.6 knots – thanks to her astounding fuel capacity of 22,700 litres. There were limits to what we might learn of her seagoing capabilities on such a mild-mannered day but a few weeks later the owners emailed with an update from Greece.
With 1m seas on the beam she was surprisingly comfortable, he reported, her roll being manageable even with the Seakeeper switched off. In head seas she was dry and stable.
Big following seas turned out to be her least favourite point of sail, as she exhibited a tendency to yaw that was pronounced enough to prompt the owners to switch off the autopilot and take manual control.
Overall, though, the owners seem happy. At the time of writing, the couple have made it to Mallorca, where they have called in to attend to some routine maintenance. Gibraltar is the next stop, to top up the tanks with duty-free diesel, and then onward into the wild blue yonder.
First published in the October 2023 issue of MBY.
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LOA: 76ft 3in / 23.25m
Beam: 19ft 4in / 5.90m
Draft (laden): 6ft 5in / 2.03m
Displacement (laden): 148 tonnes
Engines: Twin Cummins 404hp QSL 9
Fuel capacity: 4,993 gal / 22,700L
Water capacity: 813 gal / 3,698 L
Top speed: 11.5 knots
Fuel consumption: 148.3lph
Noise: 47 d(B)A
Price: Available upon application