The Success Story of Sherakhan: From Navy to Now

By George Bains

How does a 1966 navy vessel become one of the most popular luxury charter superyachts of the 21st century? Visionary businessman and passionate sailor, Jan Verkerk, had the answer when he embarked on a journey to turn vintage Dutch maritime school vessel Prinses Margriet into the now beloved explorer yacht Sherakhan.

Launched in 1966, Prinses Margriet served four decades of service as a training ship for the Dutch merchant navy, before being left floating in a sea of uncertainty following her decommissioning. Despite her proud history, the lack of an aesthetic appeal of a top-heavy and bulky training ship provided little hope for a future in the industry, let alone one built on style and comfort. That was until Jan Verkerk, looking for an ambitious project to convert a much larger charter vessel, spotted a raw potential that only the most audacious could see.

Two major factors sparked Verkerk’s interest in the vessel, giving it hope for a rejuvenated future. Firstly, after 45 years in operation, Prinses Margriet’s steel hull showed little signs of corrosion. Still measuring at three centimetres thick, more than the 8mm usually found on modern superyachts, she offered a strong base upon which Verkerk could implement his own vision. On top of this, her SOLAS compliance gave the possibility of transforming a superyacht that could carry more than 12 passengers, and so the process of building Sherakhan began.

Successful yacht building is about calculating, calculating and calculating again,” says Jan Verkerk, and this is evident in the restructuring of Sherakhan’s superstructure and stern. Remodelling the top-heavy look, Verkerk took inspiration from the lines of a 1936 classic yacht, and began redrawing the vessel’s exterior.

With such a major conversion needed, it was imperative to get the style of the vessel right, as so many conversions can look rather clumpy and incongruous.”

Replacing the steel structure with lightweight aluminium, Verkerk was able to develop more classic yacht proportions. 200 tonnes of steel was streamlined to just 60 tonnes of aluminium, and virtually all the systems were upgraded to the high-tech levels of a superyacht. Changing the purpose of the yacht involved a great effort in reducing the noise and vibration of Sherakhan to provide the comfortable platform needed to entice superyacht clientele.

And enticing superyacht clientele is exactly what the finished project has done since its relaunch in 2005. The rugged ship left with an uncertain future is now a distant memory, and what has taken its place is an exquisite superyacht that offers a home away from home for the superyacht elite.

“The art of building mega yachts is in making wishes come true. The problem is technical realisation.”

Natural tones and finishes complimented by striking artwork create a homely atmosphere on Sherakhan’s interior. The 10 staterooms each boast unique decorations, with king sized beds and plenty of space to offer guests comfort in ultimate privacy.  The 20m long saloon is one of the yacht’s crowning features, with a double height ceiling and a minstrel’s gallery accessed by two sweeping staircases of glass and steel.

Reconstructed to provide unlimited adventure on the water for charter clients, Sherakhan is the complete entertainment yacht with something for everyone. Guests can relax on the yacht’s expansive sundeck, featuring a glass-bottomed 18-person spa pool, while alfresco dining in the evening is atmospherically lit by underwater lighting.   

A white baby grand piano situated next to a bar and bijou dancefloor is the perfect setting for after-dinner fun, yet one of the most unique aspects of the design is found in the circular observation lounge. Labelled the “Crow’s Nest”, the lounge stands 20m above sea levels and allows guests to enjoy unbelievable views while protected from the elements.

Sherakhan is a testament to the incredible feats that can be reached through refit, creating one of the most sought after charter superyachts from the unlikeliest of sources. Jan Verkerk continues to bring exciting new charter projects to life, being responsible also for the transformation of 77m Legend, a former USSR icebreaker which became the very first superyacht to navigate polar waters without a support vessel. 

"The art of building mega yachts is in making wishes come true. The problem is the technical realisation."

Jan Verkerk, Owner of Sherakhan

"The art of building mega yachts is in making wishes come true. The problem is the technical realisation."

Jan Verkerk, Owner of Sherakhan
By George Bains
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