About Diane Byrne

Diane M. Byrne is the founder and editor of the website Megayacht News. A longtime yachting writer, she contributes to Super Yacht World, Superyacht Business, Boat Exclusive, and other magazines. She is additionally a member of the International Superyacht Society Board of Directors and a founding member of the U.S. Superyacht Association.

Florida Senate Candidate Took Yacht to Cuba

Jeff Greene

Jeff Greene, a Florida-based businessman campaigning for the Democratic nomination for Senate, is in hot water for taking his megayacht to Cuba and telling conflicting stories about the visit.

During a televised debate held Monday evening, Greene was asked if he took his yacht, the 145-foot Summerwind, to Cuba in 2007. Greene replied that the yacht had gone there, but he wasn’t onboard. When an opponent challenged his statement, stating that eyewitnesses say he was indeed aboard, Greene then admitted he had traveled to Cuba aboard Summerwind, but to visit a Jewish mission.

The next day, Greene gave an interview to Miami-based WPLG television, in which he seemed to try to explain the religious angle. “As it turns out, there was a Jewish mission that I knew about going on,” and he took the opportunity to visit “synagogues and the community in Cuba.” In the same interview, though, he stated that Summerwind stopped in Cuba due to mechanical problems, while heading to the Bahamas from Honduras. While at Hemingway Marina in Havana, Greene told the reporter, he learned about the Jewish mission and decided to pay a visit.

Those statements could see Greene facing prosecution, as U.S. citizens who fail to comply with the travel embargoes regarding Cuba can face civil penalties and criminal trial. For much of the past 40 years, the United States has had restrictions on travel to Cuba in an effort to isolate Fidel Castro’s government. Tourism travel is not permitted, for example, and specific licenses are required for journalists, citizens making family visits, academic coursework travel, religious visits, and amateur and semi-professional international sports competitions. Those licenses are issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury. Some categories of travelers may visit Cuba under a general license, meaning they’re not required to obtain special permission from OFAC. While Greene did say during the debate that he had the requisite license, the changing story casts serious doubt.

The doubt deepens if the stories that two previous crewmembers tell are true. Billy Blackwell, who worked as a mate aboard Summerwind, told WPLG that the yacht departed from Key West and went directly to Cuba, with Greene and his girlfriend spending three to four days touring and shopping. Harlan Hoffman, a former deckhand, was quoted by the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday, the day before the debate: “Mr. Greene’s yacht is known to be a party yacht. When it went to Cuba, everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on.”

Greene’s representatives say the claims are false. They also say Greene misspoke in the debate and that he was setting the record straight by explaining there was a mechanical problem that led the yacht to stop in Cuba.

SLIDESHOW: Oceanco’s Natita Debuts for Charter

Natita

In 2005, Oceanco delivered Dilbar, a yacht that remained in private hands and was not permitted for much publicity. As a result, the accommodations aboard the 66-meter (217-foot), canoe-sterned superyacht remained relatively unknown. Things stayed that way under a subsequent owner, who christened her Ona.

A few months ago, however, the yacht changed hands again, and the new owner decided he wanted to offer her for charter. We can now give you the first look at Natita, part of the Burgess yacht charter fleet.

The slideshow below showcases a variety of the generous relaxation areas onboard, all designed by Alberto Pinto. Included are the saloon, the cinema, the master suite (with a gleaming wood sole and intimate saloon/seating area), and the coral-themed guest stateroom. Twelve guests in total are accommodated in six staterooms, by the way, spread between the main deck and bridge deck. The slideshow also includes the beach club and a terrific aerial view of the scallop-shaped pool atop the megayacht, which is fitted with waterjets to swim against. It can further function as a spa pool or an infinity pool, since water is intended to spill over the sides.

Natita is available for charter this summer in the Med for €497,000 (about $657,550) per week during high season and €496,000 (about $656,266) per week for low season.

Superyacht Yanneke Too: Adventure in Indonesia

Yanneke Too“You won’t want to miss this, guys—it’s your welcome to the ‘Island of the Gods.’”

That’s what Capt. Charles Dwyer called out to his crew on watch aboard Yanneke Too recently when the yacht rounded the northeastern tip of Bali at dawn and Mt. Agung came into view. Presently on a world cruise, the 36-meter (116-foot) Yanneke Too, her owner, and her crew have enjoyed amazing adventures together. Dwyer certainly deserves credit; he knows every inch of Yanneke Too, having overseen the megayacht’s build in the mid-1990s at Camper & Nicholsons and serving as her captain for the past decade. He’s also no stranger to cruising. He has more than 200,000 miles under his feet, in addition to many hours aboard America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup racers in prior years.

Here are excerpts from a story Dwyer—a.k.a. Cap’n Charlie—penned about exploring Indonesian waters, a region still relatively unknown to the superyacht set, with the help of Asia Pacific Superyachts:

“Following an exhilarating beam reach down the east coast of Bali a few hours later, our beautiful yacht was tied up at the limited (and only) superyacht mooring facility in Benoa Harbor, Bali, the first of our planned Indonesian explorations. Awaiting us at the dock to take the lines and greet us with a ‘welcome package’ was Asia Pacific Superyachts Bali GM, Richard Lofthouse. This was to be the start of a two month close-knit relationship as Yanneke Too traversed the complexities of staying and cruising in Indonesian waters. …

“We met with Jimmy Blee, director of Asia Pacific Superyacht Indonesia, and a seasoned sailor of the Indonesian archipelago. Jimmy has been cruising the waters for over 15 years and knows everyone… and every nook and cranny the yacht might get into. My instructions were simple. ‘I want every detail of our program clearly mapped out and prepared to the minutest detail.’ This is a challenge in most countries, and Indonesia is even more difficult, given the very laid-back way of life. After a few hours of kicking around a few different programs, we selected what I thought would be the best program for the time and the preferences of our owner and guests.

“Indonesia is challenging, as it is an island nation of 17,000 islands, approximately 360 differing ethnic groups with more than 500 individual languages, and a checkered history of occupations and political events. To cruise the country properly would take more than three years of continual sailing. Most boats coming to Indonesia try to compress their visit into a couple of weeks; thus only covering a small percent of what the country has to offer.

“Yanneke Too was a hive of activity and work as the countdown was on for the owner’s arrival. As provisions were ordered, I was surprised to find just about every food and/or exotic culinary need one could possibly imagine can be procured in Bali. The most important aspect was to ensure all of the vessel’s harbor clearances, tiresome customs negotiations and other necessary cruising paper work were completed by Richard, without any hiccups.

“The day dawned of the owner’s arrival, and the VIP airport immigration and arrival clearance worked to perfection! The owner was soon onboard, and the true meaning of the ship’s existence was in action. Yanneke Too gracefully slipped out of the harbor and sailed to Nusa Lembongan, the closest island destination to Bali and a regular day-trip destination. We arrived late afternoon after a beautiful sail across. All the day visitors had departed and the little anchorage bay was deserted. Chef Sally prepared a fabulous welcome-onboard dinner for the owner and guests–with all subsequent meals happily meeting this high standard.

“There was a lively downwind sail in 20 knots of breeze the next day from Lembongan to a northern bay on Lombok Island. In an idyllic anchorage, the attentions of the chef and crew ensured another beautiful meal served in the spacious and charming outdoor dining area.

“The new day heralded the first of the land excursions as the owner and guests enjoyed a half-day tour. Lombok Island, a scenic tropical island adorned with coconut trees, is well known for pottery, ikats and general art & crafts. As we departed in the morning on our 100 NM cruise to the Island of Moyo, home of the famous Amanwana Resort, we caught the time right and before long were motoring along at 12 knots. By late morning the wind picked up and we set sails at a comfortable 15-18 knots, arriving late afternoon to drop anchor at the resort a mere 60 meters from the shore in 32 meters of water.

“After touring the local village, bearing books and goodies for the local school, the owner and guests spent the afternoon at the spa and snorkeling on the beautiful house reef, then dining ashore at the resort.

“It was on to the small island of Satonda, just 23 miles north of Moyo with a great anchorage and a saltwater lake formed by the collapse of a volcano, just a short walk from the anchorage. Soon it was time to start our journey back in the direction of Lombok, sailing 40 miles to the islands of Panjang.

“We were delighted to find a large, deserted white-sand beach with clear blue water and a well-protected anchorage near to the shore. Pretty as a postcard, at dusk thousands of large fruit bats (flying foxes) arrived in search of fresh fruits in the mountains, which was our backdrop. It was a surreal sight, with the sun going down and bats flying through the rigging in a secluded bay, without another boat in sight. It was like taking a step back in time.

“Panjang to Lombok was a pleasant 40-mile downwind sail along the northern coast of Lombok. We dropped anchor in the bay just outside the Oberoi resort. The views at anchor are dramatic, as the volcanoes of both Bali and Lombok can be seen here. The owner took us all ashore for a gourmet delight and some pleasant conversation. With the help of Asia Pacific Superyachts, arrangements were made for a helicopter to collect the owner and guests at the helipad behind the Oberoi and transport them on a 3.5-hour tour of Bali. They enjoyed viewing the volcano, rice terraces and coffee plantations before landing at the Armandari Hotel in Ubud. The following day was spent sightseeing while the crew and I took Yanneke Too back to Benoa Harbor for a few days rest before our departure to Australia.

“Richard and the crew of Asia Pacific Superyachts were given special thanks for all their help and for generously sharing their knowledge of the region. A highly enjoyable and unforgettable sea journey!”

Adam Voorhees, World Superyacht Award Winner

If you don’t succeed the first time, persevere.

That’s the lesson we all can learn from Adam Voorhees, a California-based post-graduate who just won the Young Designer of the Year Award at the World Superyacht Awards. (That’s him pictured second from left.) Voorhees had entered last year’s competition and was among the five finalists, but didn’t land the top prize. Undaunted, he created a new design for this year’s competition.

 

superyacht Ra by Adam Voorhees

The design you see here, Ra, definitely grabbed the judges’ attention. Trevor Blakeley, chief executive of RINA and chairman of the judging panel, says they found Ra to be “imaginative” and struck a good balance between inside and outside spaces. “The judges felt that it was a very ‘user friendly’ design that would appeal to both owner and charterer,” he adds. “The judges were particularly impressed by the designer’s clear understanding of the quality and enjoyment of life on the water—what yachting should be all about.”

Indeed. Voorhees, who grew up in Lake Tahoe, tells me, “sailing was taught alongside walking” in his household, and he’s loved drawing all types of boats since he was a child. With Ra, “I wanted to communicate the idea of new experiences and ways of living in close connection to the nautical environment.” Named for the Egyptian sun god Amun-Ra, the megayacht measures 66 meters (216 feet) and has large-volume spaces. The design also emphasizes light, as illustrated by the placement of all staterooms above the main deck. The 12 guests get a deck to themselves one level above the main deck, in fact, while the owners’ suite is on the bridge deck. There’s also the cool conversion of the aft main deck into a giant terrace on the sea (below) and the entirely open uppermost deck—no enclosed gym or observation area here, as seen aboard some other superyachts.

 

superyacht RA open aft deck

Because the award competition (sponsored by Camper & Nicholsons) requires that entries must have the lowest possible carbon footprint, Voorhees specified a few eco-friendly components. First, Ra is envisioned to be built of recyclable aluminum and composites. She also will employ photovoltaic panels, which would provide power to a handful of Caterpillar gensets. And finally, Ra will meet RINA Green Star requirements.

So what’s next for Voorhees? Besides looking for a client for this project, he says, “I am also working on two 90-meter concepts in conjunction with Lürssen that we will be showing at the Monaco and Fort Lauderdale shows.” He’s also creating a 25-meter “‘spirit of tradition’ sailing yacht and an 18-foot daysailer to match.”

Alexandre Rodriguez Released on Bail

Alexandre Rodriguez, who recently resigned from the Rodriguez Group, was released on €1.5 million (about $1.96 million) bail last Thursday.

You may recall that the former president of the Rodriguez Group was arrested in June, with other individuals, aboard one of his company’s yachts on suspicion of participating in organized crime. Several days later, Rodriguez was indicted and imprisoned for “laundering offense under the laws on gambling and extortion compounded, harboring criminals, abuse of corporate assets (ABS).” Investigators explained that Rodriguez admitted to making yachts available for free to the others who were arrested the same day he was. Even though they charge it was a money-laundering operation, they added that Rodriguez did not personally profit. He therefore faced prosecution for abuse of corporate assets.

According to news reports, Rodriguez was released last week by a judge after determining there was no further relationship between him and the others. However, he could still face a trial. Rodriguez’s lawyer was quoted by the newspaper Nice-Matin as stating that the judge still needs to rule whether the yachts were in his own name or belonged to the Rodriguez Group. His lawyer also took issue with the charge of harboring criminals and said that evidence will help establish he did not host them knowingly; rather, it was friendship.

Furthermore, Rodriguez’s lawyer told the newspaper that his client was held in a cell where the temperature was about 38°C (100°F) for most of the 50 days he remained imprisoned.

Introducing Wider Yachts

Wider 42

Consider it an ultimate dayboat or tricked-out tender for your megayacht. Either way, there’s never been anything like the Wider 42. And outside of Wally, there’s really never been a boatbuilder focused on pushing the boundaries of convention to this degree.

When you realize Wider’s founder is Tilli Antonelli, who founded Pershing in Italy in the 1980s and remained its chief until earlier this year, it starts to make sense. Pershings earned the nickname “silver bullet” in some circles because of their sleek shape, metallic exterior color scheme, and of course speed. They were dramatically different than other craft when they landed on American shores in the 1990s.

The first Wider 42 should turn heads, too, when she premieres at the Genoa boat show in October. (While an American debut date hasn’t been announced yet, nor has the U.S. representative, the North and South American markets are primary targets.) The company name was inspired by the biggest selling concept of the boat, devised by Antonelli: The amidships area can widen to both sides, doubling the usable space. In addition, the extended hull sections simulate outriggers, like on proas. Antonelli likes to refer to the extra space as “a sort of playground in the middle of the sea.” Further notable is the use of Esthec instead of teak underfoot.

Wider’s facility is in Castelvecchio di Monteporzio, Italy, the same one where the first Pershing was built. There’s yet another tie to the Pershing days: All the models (35- and 50-footers are in the works) are styled by Fulvio De Simoni. Naval architecture is being handled in house in conjunction with Wave Ingegneria and Mark Wilson, who’s made a name in offshore powerboat racing.

The latter’s contributions are particularly noticeable in the racing-style stepped hull of the 42. Even the engine installation is similar to that in the racing world: offset, not directly side by side. This reportedly yields a lower center of gravity on centerline, bolstering stability. Construction-wise, Wider employs SCRIMP, with a carbon and vinylester resin. Some components are made solely with carbon fiber. All of these elements will keep weight down, important particularly given the anticipated 45-knot-plus top speed.

Owners and guests will have a variety of ways to enjoy that speed. Inside, there’s a dinette that can convert to a berth for naps or overnights. In the image here, the amidship cockpit is set up for dining. But it can also be used as a sundeck, by dropping the table and covering it with a pad. Alternately the seating area slides apart to convert into two sunlounges. It’s interesting to note that all of the seating is comprised of inflatable cushions, not the traditional fixed fiberglass benches. If the mood strikes, you can remove the cushions and toss them in the water as extra toys.

Speaking of toys, the Wider 42 can tote a RIB or PWC aft. Another option: dive bottles and related gear. Regardless, the platform upon which the toys are stowed lowers to allow easy entry into the water.

Megayacht News Onboard: Hargrave’s Victoriano

Victoriano

PHOTOS: SUKI FINNERTY

It’s one thing to enjoy repeat business from a client. It’s another to have a client who builds four yachts with your company.

Such is the case with Hargrave Custom Yachts. Funny enough, the owners of the 101-foot Victoriano “were lifelong sailors until they met us,” according to Michael Joyce, president of Hargrave. They owned a 54-foot Gulfstar sailing yacht before taking the motoryacht plunge, first with a 65 Monte Fino, then an 82-foot Hargrave several years later, followed by a 94-foot Hargrave.

“There are some people who are so creative by nature that they’re always looking for something new,” Joyce explains, adding that the husband half of Victoriano’s owners is among them. When the economic slowdown was in its early stages, Joyce says, he was relating to the gentleman how Hargrave was still preparing new concepts, including a 101-foot series. Sassy was the first delivery in that series, and while the owner liked the overall length and amenities, she was a bit too traditional in style for him. Joyce explained that Hargrave’s team was modifying the 101 for the European market and that it would include some different features. “He said, ‘You know what? I like it. I think that’s going to do well. What do we need to do?’ The next thing you know, there was our new Victoriano.”

While on paper Victoriano’s raised-pilothouse design, with eight guests and six crew, sounds pretty typical, in reality it’s anything but. Take the crew accommodations. Not only are there three separate heads for the three staterooms, but there’s also an ample dinette/relaxation area, with a full wall of lockers. The captain’s stateroom is the size of a guest stateroom aboard some yachts just a few feet smaller. The crew also gets a separate laundry room and, unheard of for a yacht this size, a hidden door yielding direct access into the guest accommodations. Particularly if Victoriano ever charters, this is a welcome feature, for quick bed-making and linen changing. (On a related note, Joyce explains how the late naval architect Jack Hargrave, the namesake for the company, began his career as a crewmember. Good-size crew cabins were a signature style of his, in recognition that if you treat the crew well, they’ll work well.)

Another atypical feature on Victoriano is the on-deck master and its impact—or lack thereof—on the rest of the deck. You might assume that either it had to be squeezed in or that the galley would lose floor- and counter space, given the 101-foot LOA. Victoriano proves it doesn’t have to happen. In fact, it’s the biggest galley Hargrave has built to date in this size range, and it rivals that of any other galley aboard similar-size yachts. Two full-size refrigerators and four SubZero freezer drawers, abundant counter space for plating, two sinks on two separate counters… it’s a well-equipped and well-laid-out space. There’s enough room for guests to stop in and chat without getting underfoot. And of course, the galley has direct access from the crew cabins below deck.

Speaking of access, there’s nearly four-sided reach around the twin Caterpillar C32s in the engine room. The gensets partially block the pathway outboard of each powerplant, but in fairness it’s rare to find a full walk-around engine room in the 100-foot range. Hargrave wisely makes the gensets serve double duty, in a sense, topping each with a work table.

To what does Joyce ascribe Hargrave’s repeat success, with this client and others? A lot comes down to eliminating stress for the owner and making the building experience fun. “We’ve done everything possible to reduce the risk of building a custom yacht,” he explains. “We’re able to get between the owner and the problems… we make sure we’re in a position to step in and resolve a problem without even telling the owner there’s a problem.” Most of all, though, he says that Hargrave strives for “fantasy service,” in recognition that owners’ time onboard is precious and limited, and they don’t want (nor need) to be bogged down by delays or malfunctions no matter how small.

Here’s more of Victoriano, which achieves a top speed of 21 knots and a cruise speed of 18 knots.

New Rybovich Marina May Be Put to Ballot

Public uproar over the proposed Rybovich marina in Riviera Beach, Florida may lead to a formal ballot question in November. That is, if residents who are upset over city officials possibly granting commercial usage of submerged lands get their way.

According to an article in the Palm Beach Post, a group called the Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force aims to collect more than 2,000 signatures of registered city voters. A minimum of 2,053 signatures is required before officials can consider adding a question to November ballots. If the group is successful in obtaining the signatures by August 7, election officials will receive and review them for verification.

For the past several months, Rybovich has been in negotiations with Riviera Beach officials to establish a megayacht-refit yard there. When Rybovich and Riviera Beach officials publicly revealed the plans in May, a primary issue was whether the city could legally enter into the proposed 25-year lease of the southern part of the property. That’s because the state of Florida set aside submerged lands at the marina strictly for municipal park and recreational usage, and current laws do not include exceptions for leases.

The petition being circulated by the Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force and others states that the marina and its public municipal properties are to be owned, managed, and operated strictly by the city for public use, not industrial commercial use. According to the Palm Beach Post article, Emma Bates, the chairwoman of the Riviera Beach Citizens Task Force, likens the Rybovich lease proposal to “environmental racism.” “The people are waking up and realizing they have a voice,” she was also quoted as saying. “This way, everyone will get a chance to voice how they feel through their vote.”

High-profile officials are siding with the residents. Thomas Masters, the mayor of Riviera Beach, was quoted as saying, “People want to have the last word on how the marina’s developed. It’s not the mayor or the council who owns the property. It’s the people.” In addition, Priscilla Taylor, the Palm Beach County commissioner, wrote a letter to Governor Charlie Crist in June, reminding him that there aren’t many marinas with public access and prevent the city from converting the submerged lands. “I respectfully request that as you review the city’s request that you are mindful of the residents’ concern and not deviate from the original dedication,” she wrote.

UK Court: Boris Berezovsky Must Pay Edmiston & Company

Stemming from the 2008 sale of his megayacht, Russian billionaire and former politician Boris Berezovsky was ordered by a British court yesterday to pay Edmiston & Company a £6-million ($9.3-million) sales commission.

Berezovsky hired the brokerage firm to sell the 110-meter (361-foot) Darius while she was still under construction at Lürssen, due to financial difficulties. According to an article in the Telegraph, Berezovsky’s lawyer, Justice Field, revealed in court that his client “did not have the ready means to pay the shipbuilding contract installments as they fell due, and if he failed to pay any of them by the due date, he stood to lose at least a substantial part of his investment in the yacht.” Selling the superyacht would secure the €118 million (about $153.5 million) Berezovsky had already spent, Field stated.

Nicholas Edmiston, founder of Edmiston & Company, marketed and attempted to sell the yacht to a few interested parties before Darius finally sold to the Al Futtaim family of the United Arab Emirates in October 2008. Despite that, Berezovsky disputed his right to the sales commission. In court, Field stated that Merle Wood, president of Merle Wood & Associates, made introductions between Edmiston & Company and the Al Futtaim family’s captain, and therefore Edmiston should not be paid. Berezovsky himself reported told the court that Edmiston & Company hadn’t been an “effective cause” of the sale. The judge ruled against the arguments, stating that it is a broker’s duty to tap his or her network of contacts. While Wood’s role was “an extremely valuable one,” the judge said, Edmiston still displayed “considerable skill and expertise” in reaching out to his network.

Darius, now known as Radiant, was delivered to the Al Futtaim family earlier this year.

UK Court: Boris Berezovsky Must Pay Edmiston & Company

Stemming from the 2008 sale of his megayacht, Russian billionaire and former politician Boris Berezovsky was ordered by a British court yesterday to pay Edmiston & Company a £6-million ($9.3-million) sales commission.

Berezovsky hired the brokerage firm to sell the 110-meter (361-foot) Darius while she was still under construction at Lürssen, due to financial difficulties. According to an article in the Telegraph, Berezovsky’s lawyer, Justice Field, revealed in court that his client “did not have the ready means to pay the shipbuilding contract installments as they fell due, and if he failed to pay any of them by the due date, he stood to lose at least a substantial part of his investment in the yacht.” Selling the superyacht would secure the €118 million (about $153.5 million) Berezovsky had already spent, Field stated.

Nicholas Edmiston, founder of Edmiston & Company, marketed and attempted to sell the yacht to a few interested parties before Darius finally sold to the Al Futtaim family of the United Arab Emirates in October 2008. Despite that, Berezovsky disputed his right to the sales commission. In court, Field stated that Merle Wood, president of Merle Wood & Associates, made introductions between Edmiston & Company and the Al Futtaim family’s captain, and therefore Edmiston should not be paid. Berezovsky himself reported told the court that Edmiston & Company hadn’t been an “effective cause” of the sale. The judge ruled against the arguments, stating that it is a broker’s duty to tap his or her network of contacts. While Wood’s role was “an extremely valuable one,” the judge said, Edmiston still displayed “considerable skill and expertise” in reaching out to his network.

Darius, now known as Radiant, was delivered to the Al Futtaim family earlier this year.