Licence to roam

A highly accomplished explorer-style yacht, the new Nomad 101 from Gulf Craft is eminently capable of hosting swanky harbour parties and safely heading to spectacular pristine locations for unique cruising experiences.

Written by Scott Alle
Photography by Roman Liebich

21 February 2024


There have always been explorer yachts – sturdy ocean-going vessels taking owners to isolated getaways around the globe. But, over the past decade, this niche segment has seen a surge in interest. There have been advances in design and technology, and we’re now benefitting from those advances with Gulf Craft’s impressive new Nomad 101.

Unveiled at the Dubai International Boat Show in March 2023, the Nomad 101 – or N101 – becomes the flagship of the UAE builder’s Nomad range, and while it doesn’t profess to be a dedicated expedition concept, it does harness a number of the genre’s traits.

It possesses true long-range cruising credentials and enviable seakeeping abilities combined with luxury finishes and spacious accommodation. Its five beautifully finished ensuite cabins, including a panoramic owner’s suite on the main deck, can host 10 guests.

Sustainability and efficiency are also key elements of the N101’s DNA, from recycled plastic water bottles used in composite materials in the table and benchtops to new Humphree electric stabilisers.


Clean, distinctive lines and a commanding presence guaranteed the N101 M/Y Bluestone centre stage at the Sydney International Boat Show. Bluestone will charter on Sydney Harbour with the Whitsundays and other destinations easily within the yacht’s range, which tallies at 1,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, or 3,100 nautical miles at 8 knots.

The semi-displacement hull is by British naval architect Andrew Wolstenholme. He says the Nomad 101 will inherently impart a sense of confidence when the weather turns.

“The fine forward sections give the hull a comfortable ride in head seas,” he explains, “and this, combined with the modified round bilge form, gives excellent all-round seakeeping characteristics.

At lower hull speeds, the semi-displacement form is superior to a planing hull in seakeeping and performance,” he continues, “but the addition of a spray chine defines the lifting surface and gives my hulls a performance close to that of a planing hull at higher hull speeds without the hard ride.”

On the delivery voyage, 40-knot winds and 3-metre swells highlighted the Nomad’s exemplary sea manners, while more moderate conditions allowed a top speed of 22.5 knots.

As soon you step on board, you’re aware of the quality artisanship infused in the large spaces and fine detail. At the Dubai show, the boat’s expansive beach club sported teak furniture done in-house, with a jet tender stored transversely in a garage that can alternatively house two three-seater jetskis and a Williams 325 turbo jet tender.

Two wide-tread teak stairs lead up to the main deck cockpit, with solid-locking safety gates at the top of the stairs and conveniently located capstan winches for stern-to-berthing – there’s a wing station aft to starboard, too.

Despite the Nomad’s size and volume, it’s extremely manoeuvrable in tight spaces and spins on a dime.

That volume translates into a large saloon of understated elegance, defined by natural tones. Crafted cabinetry with a marble countertop stretches along the starboard side, and features such as the dining table with a worked-inlay stone top can be made bespoke by the shipyard in your choice of materials.

Gulf Craft’s commitment to sourcing eco-materials has created a combination of tactile delights on the N101. The cream lounge fabric is Piñatex, a natural textile derived from pineapple-leaf fibre. A wood-veneer feature wall between the saloon and galley also acts as a sound-dampening feature, one of the reasons the N101 is so quiet underway, though the uninterrupted views through the large windows leave no doubt where you are.

A sliding door with bamboo veneer separates the saloon from the galley, which features Siemens appliances and composite quartz benchtops, and is versatile enough to cater for fresh sushi, a lamb rotisserie or fresh focaccia.

A separate pantograph door grants access for the crew to the wide and secure side decks. Another sliding door to starboard allows the saloon to become a private dining/entertaining space. The day head is finished in marble accents with contrasting matt black tapware.

A private corridor leads to the luxurious 28-square-metre owner’s suite, which on this yacht featured the Serene interior trim developed by Phantom Studio from the Netherlands, with an emphasis on natural tones and textures. The veneer wall panelling is made from flax or hemp fabrics while the refined, relaxed ambience is complemented by bio-vegan leather and a headboard wrapped in rattan produced with cotton-seed extracts.

A composite stone using recycled plastic bottles and quartz was chosen for the hard surfaces, while underfoot, the deep wool carpet helps keep the space quiet. There’s ample hanging storage in two full-length wardrobes, and a desk and chaise longue to sit back and take in the cruise.

Curved cabinetry houses a 55-inch television, but even better are the views straight out over the bow to the horizon. A private foredeck through a door to starboard enhances the sublime experience. The spacious ensuite is finished in marble with matt-black appointments and the teak shower grating is a nice touch, as is the large seat.

An internal stair leads up to the bridge deck and skylounge, another generous space with seamless access to a 35-square-metre aft upper deck, perfect for hosting a stylish alfresco soiree. There are plans to put a bar here, which would complement the space well with a choice of moveable furniture options and an extended awning for shade.

Forward is a day head, and a bridge that Captain Richard Morris, Gulf Craft’s dealer for Australia, thoroughly approves of, describing it as a proper wheelhouse – indeed, Gulf Craft requested input for the bridge design from Morris and other experienced captains. A pull- down bench seat behind the state-of-the-art helm offers guests a view through the raked windows, and there’s a Portuguese bridge area outside for an even better view.

Function displays are split in two, with navigation and operations screens on one side and engineering plus chain counters on the other. A comprehensive CCTV system allows for monitoring of the engine room and other critical operational spaces. The twin MTU 12V 2000 M96Ls each get a dedicated data screen, and there’s a captain’s office up here too. Stairs lead up to the flybridge, where there’s another helm forward to starboard with two Garmin 17-inch screens, throttles and thrusters.

Beneath a GRP hardtop, a large U-shaped lounge accommodates eight in comfort around a teak table, with a bar, electric grill and fridges on hand for extended lunches or reclining under the stars. There’s substantial room aft for at least three sunlounges.

Quiet opulence is the immediate impression as you descend from the saloon to the lower deck, where four staterooms beckon with the promise of a peaceful night’s sleep.

The VIP in the bow boasts a walkaround queen bed, a walk-in wardrobe and abundant shelves, drawers and storage space. The ensuite opens from the robe area and features marble-look tiles and tops with premium appointments.

Two of the three guest cabins are located to port, while the one to starboard can be configured with either generous singles or a large queen. All feature the same high-quality soft furnishings, each with its own ensuite comprising a separate shower and head.

There’s also a laundry here with a washer, dryer, sink and plenty of bench spaces – a good practical move. The crew quarters offer accommodation for six with a galley and mess, and a separate captain’s cabin with ensuite. There are also extra fridges down here to supplement those in the main deck galley.

The meticulous engine room houses the shaft-drive MTUs, with full access to each unit. Two 45 kW Caterpillar gensets are located on the rear bulkhead. The watermakers can produce 8,000 litres a day, while against the bulkhead is the best laid-out and labelled fuel and bilge pump system I’ve ever seen.

Bluestone will join Ghost II and Oneworld from Gulf Craft’s Majesty line in offering luxury charters based out of Sydney Harbour.

Safety features such as collision bulkheads, damage stability, structural fire protection and fire-detection systems – necessary to meet strict charter requirements – are standard features.

Morris reveals owners are increasingly choosing to configure their superyachts for charter. “The advantage of owning a superyacht in commercial survey is the option to offset running costs by operating as a business when the vessel isn’t being used privately,” he says.

“Having an asset that generates income – offsetting depreciation costs and tax expenses, offering a variety of ownership structures, and claiming back the GST on importing a superyacht that is set up as a charter business – are all beneficial factors to consider when adopting this business model,” he adds.

Business case aside, the Nomad 101 offers an attractive blend of comfort and functionality in a pocket superyacht that boasts longer range and the seakeeping abilities to take on all sorts of weather. It’s a powerful incentive to indulge in some serious blue roaming.



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