The SY Thalia is a yacht with a difference … while it’s a beautiful looking vessel outside, it’s what’s inside that really takes your breath away. The 159-foot ketch is fitted out with an award-winning array of the latest and greatest AV gear that is usually reserved for luxury homes. In total, the $300K+ installation has 12 entertainment, video and navigation zones, including five video screens, one of which is a home theater.

Luxury yachts like SY Thalia, a 48.4m ketch (159ft) inherently have a large amount of electronics on board for communications and navigation, so one of the major challenges of this custom installation of high-end automation and entertainment gear was integrating the AV into the existing systems.

Another challenge, CEDIA member Liquid Automation from New Zealand says, was exactly how do you fit everything a client wants – which equates to a large amount of equipment – into tight spaces typically found aboard sea-going vessels.

The answer: a thorough check list, programming expertise, excellent product knowledge, lots of imagination and attention to detail (oh, and a very healthy budget to work with).

What’s inside …

The owner’s cabin has an NEC 40” LCD TV, a Marantz DVD player, SpeakerCraft surround sound speakers, and computer with wireless keyboard

The saloon has a Marantz AV receiver and DVD player, big screen TV, wireless remote, wall-mounted touch panel control, surround sound, 2 x subwoofers, and a gateway to wireless receive AV signals from the media server.

The theatre has its own huge TV and is equipped with an AV receiver, DVD player, media center, Sony PS3 (40GB), surround sound and separate sub woofer.

The gym, bar, study, aft cockpit and the three guests’ cabins all utilize the Sonos wireless music distribution and control.

The guest cockpit has a removable NEC projector and Tasman custom screen, four speakers and media server.

The crew mess has high end audio and wireless computing capabilities.

The captain’s cabin has a DVD player, Crestron keypad, wireless computing, audio switching capabilities and Samsung 19” LCD TV.

Most of the gear is housed in the central rack and distributed via Crestron and Sonos infrastructure. The rack holds a Kaleidescape media server and players, Crestron distribution equipment and tuner, a 1TB HDD from Netgear for AV storage and a patch-panel for changing set-ups in the cabins and .

This is housed alongside the navigation rack that has video converters, line amplifier and distributor, and video splitter all from Kramer.

The pilot house and the helm are connected via Cat 5 cable and have LCD touchscreens and audio.

Security comprises cameras to all external parts of the yacht (including thermal imaging) linked back to a central point, as well as rack temperature and humidity monitoring with email alerts, ‘anchor watch’ for the crew and emergency deck mute.

The whole system is Crestron-driven and Speakercraft speakers are used extensively.


At this level of automation, Liquid Automation says a huge aspect of the installation was the interface. User interfaces were custom designed to make complex decision-making a single easy to operate button press. Therefore, a user with very limited technical understanding is still able to benefit from all of the available features.

For instance, the team interfaced the ship’s navigation PC to verbally alert crew and captain of an anchor alarm through the Crestron keypads which also control the AV equipment. CCTV and search light control can also be conducted via the touch panels. The owner and captain were given over-ride control over guests and crew of all operations. The captain has the ability from the wheel house to mute all the deck audio by the simple push of a button in case of emergency.

The theater and saloon were fitted with Crestron Quick media input plates allowing users to feed in their laptops, video cameras, iPods, etc, into the yacht’s AV matrix.

Rack temperature and humidity have always been a challenge on yachts. To overcome and monitor this, separate air handlers for the audio/video racks on board were installed. Monitoring and logging is done via Crestron temperature and humidity sensors.

If a rack temperature rises to 40ºC a visual alert will come up on the touch panels and an audible alert sounds via the keypads located throughout the yacht. Should it rise to 45ºC the rack will automatically shut down and alert crew (and send Liquid Automation an email).

An automatic fault reporting system emails the Liquid Automation a variety of events if they happen, such as online/offline faults and amplifier status. This is especially helpful as often the crew may not realize these events have occurred.

Through clever programming, the team has enabled any navigation video source to be viewed on any navigation display, including a PC, giving the captain and crew vital accessibility throughout the yacht.

AV installation

Liquid Automation says the system’s success lies in locating a large amount of the equipment in three centralized areas. This not only makes it easier to commission a system of this scale but also makes it more reliable in regards to the amount of interconnections and cooling, compared to installing items in each local area.

Once installed, key crew members were trained how to operate all the AV gear.

The cost of the installation was just over AUD$400,000 (around USD$330,000). Liquid Automation won the recent CEDIA Asia Pacific award for best marine installation.

One other surprise is that the SY Thalia competed in the Millenium Cup off New Zealand in February this year.

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