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.

Sunreef’s Largest Superyacht Splashes

Sunreef 114 Che launch

When Sunreef Yachts announced the Sunreef 114 in December 2008, it had just started construction on its first megayacht, the 102 Double Deck. Now Che, the first 114, can lay claim to being the largest sloop-rigged catamaran in the world.

Sunreef launched Che about a week ago. As the image here shows, a floating crane lifted the then-mastless megayacht and gently placed her in the water.

The mast has since been fitted to Che, and the rest of the finishing work is underway. Highlights include an open main deck, meaning the saloon, galley, dining area, and helm aren’t walled off from one another. Given the 12.8-meter (42-foot) beam, it should be a comfortable space. Five staterooms and two crew cabins are within the hulls. The expansive flying bridge, laid in teak, contains an extra driving station and large dining/relaxation seating area. And just like any proper catamaran emphasizing fun, twin trampolines span the bows outside.

Delivery is set for later this year. Look for Che in the Caribbean during the winter, where she’ll also be available for charter.

Merrill-Stevens Embroiled in Foreclosure Lawsuit


After being sued by several vendors in recent months, Merrill-Stevens is now being sued by the bank holding its mortgage, in an attempt to foreclose on the property.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Court records show that Coconut Grove Bank holds the mortgage for the nearly six-acre yard. The foreclosure notice was filed on June 30, naming five parcels of property along the Miami River. (Several newspaper reports state that the notice is part of a counter-complaint filed subsequent to Merrill-Stevens suing the bank, on June 2. Thus far my search of the circuit court records do not show that lawsuit.)

The foreclosure attempt is the latest in a string of difficulties for the yard, founded in 1885 and operating on the Miami River since 1923. Just prior to Christmas, Merrill-Stevens laid off nearly its entire workforce. But Hugh Westbrook, its chairman, later told both the South Florida Business Journal and the Herald-Tribune new service that the shutdown wasn’t permanent. He anticipated operating the yard as a storage facility and refitting megayachts on a project-by-project basis. Westbrook added that he was in discussions with possible investors about receiving $12.5 million to renovate sheds and extend dock space to accommodate yachts to 250 feet, up from its 155-foot limit. However, without the extra cash, Westbrook admitted, he’d have to sell the business. He blamed the financial problems on delayed approvals from the city, customers delaying projects, and the economy taking a downturn.

Besides the bank’s foreclosure notice, court records show default judgments have been made against Merrill-Stevens in several vendor lawsuits, requiring it to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in total. Those cases remain open. In addition, a construction lien was filed against the Merrill-Stevens property in May by a professional engineering consulting firm. Court records show that a balance of $28,825 remains unpaid to the firm since May 2008.

Orchid: A Luiz De Basto Design for Lürssen

project Orchid, by Luiz De Basto

It’s natural to assume that an 88-meter (289-foot) megayacht would feature plentiful guest staterooms. And you’d be right, if you were thinking about a project other than Orchid. This code-named concept collaboration between Luiz De Basto Designs and Lürssen accommodates just eight guests, with large windows in the four staterooms to take in the view. The designer and builder have kept the number down to increase the amount of space devoted to saloons, dining areas, alfresco spaces, and other entertainment and relaxation areas that everyone can use.

Considering Orchid encompasses six decks, that should translate into plenty of room for these spaces. It’s interesting to note that the project didn’t start out with a set number of decks, unlike most concepts and even real superyachts. Rather, De Basto explains, the amenities he and the yard wanted to incorporate dictated the height.

So what will an owner and his guests get if Orchid is signed to a contract? A pool located just inside sliding doors on the aft main deck, for one; an interesting and unusual sight when boarding, no doubt. (There’s another pool, this type elliptical in shape, one deck up and out in the sunshine.) Alternately, guests can board at a fold-down balcony along Orchid’s side on the lower deck, a few paces away from a private theater. For on-the-water play, the tender garage is accessible via an elevator, which can whisk guests down from the bridge deck. Even the crew gets a dedicated elevator to get them down here in a hurry. Lift-up hatches let the toys launch and be retrieved. After a hard day’s play, what better way to relax than with a glass of wine from the sure-to-be-immense wine “cellar.”

Of course, the owner’s suite benefits from the abundant room, too. It’s a two-level affair, with the bedroom on the main deck and a private stairway leading to a lounge on the upper deck, where the wheelhouse would normally be. It makes for a 245-square-meter (about 2,640-square-foot) suite.

The wheelhouse gets bumped up to the bridge deck, where there are also port and starboard wing stations. For the overall crew’s benefit (or that of anyone wanting a bit of exercise), each deck has walkaround space and is connected to the next via sets of stairs.

More news to follow if the concept comes to fruition. In the meantime, this slideshow should give you a better idea of what De Basto’s design is all about.

Porto Montenegro Marina Now Open

Owners and charterers wishing to explore the Eastern Med now have a new marina at their disposal, one its developers hope will soon rival those of Monaco and other popular western Med pots: Porto Montenegro.

While the marina actually welcomed its first superyachts last summer (Feadship’s Predator was among them), its support facilities, plus the surrounding restaurants and luxury residences that are part of the development, are now fully operational. The support facilities include on-site customs and immigration, 24-hour security, duty-free fuel, grey- and black-water disposal, and provisioning. There’s also a Crew Club, featuring a gym, bowling alley, tennis and squash courts, and an Internet cafe.

Located in the bay of Kotor in Montenegro, the largest natural harbor in the Adriatic, Porto Montenegro is also just a few miles from Tivat International Airport. It’s interesting to note that it was home to a Communist-era naval base, and that Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a walled city. The Porto Montenegro developers kept the historic elements of the architecture in mind, thankfully, yet included modern-day niceties like pool decks in the courtyards of the residences.

As for the marina, it includes the Porto Montenegro Yacht Club and some reminders of the region’s history. In fact, an old dockyard crane was scrubbed and restored, and it now sits at the edge of the main jetty. In the future, a maritime museum will be added, showcasing other finds. Berths-wise, 183 are available so far, with 89 for megayachts. Eventually there will be more than 600 spaces for yachts and superyachts, with about 25 percent devoted to the latter. The largest yacht that can be accommodated: 100 meters (328 feet).

There’s even more in the works. This fall, Compositeworks will open a refit facility across the Bay. Similar to its existing yard in La Ciotat, France, Compositeworks will address the needs of both power and sailing yachts and feature a variety of subcontractors.

This video gives a good overview of what to expect at Porto Montenegro.

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Vripack Designs Limo Tender

Vripack Limo Tender aerial

Limo tenders are increasingly appearing on the decks and in the garages of superyachts, and no wonder. They’re more sophisticated than your usual runabout or RIB, and sometimes their styling echoes that of the yacht they accompany. Vripack, which has designed a number of both megayachts and yacht tenders, has fashioned a 25-foot limo tender for buyers of Heesen Yachts’ 5500 series (180 feet LOA).

It did so at the request of the project-management firm Nakhimov, which will also commission the construction of the tender (yard not yet selected). While the images here don’t convey it, the styling echoes many elements of the Heesen. But Vripack incorporated some novel features, too, notably the skylight and abundant use of glass.

Vripack Limo Tender aft

In fact, the limo tender is so nicely outfitted, it might keep the owner and guests lingering longer onboard. Two mini-bars will keep libations flowing. Six people can sit inside in climate-controlled comfort, while a few more can enjoy the rush of air while outside at the U-shape bow seating. Should they wish to take a dip, the limo tender has a teak-decked swim platform. The overall design keeps guests and crew separate, with the helm station outside. The illustrations here show it to starboard, but Vripack has included an extra crewmember leaning post just opposite.

Conrad Shipyard and Vripack Present 132-Foot Explorer

Current and former students worldwide certainly know the name Joseph Conrad. What they may not know is that the famed novelist was christened Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, and that his anglicized name inspired that of a shipyard in his native Poland.

Conrad Shipyard, based in Gdansk, traces its roots to 1989. While it has been relatively low-profile compared to other builders, it counts a Bill Dixon-designed, 27-meter (89-foot) motoryacht among its deliveries, from 2005. In keeping with its focus on both power and sailing yachts and megayachts to 60 meters (197 feet), Conrad is currently collaborating with Vripack on an expedition yacht.

Available for sale by Yachting Partners International (YPI), the Conrad-Vripack 132 is, as the name suggests, 132 feet LOA (40.29 meters). The 28-foot (8.58-meter) beam should make the various spaces comfortable for the owners and eight guests plus six crewmembers. Six crew may sound small for a superyacht this size, but the design and engineering are focused on smaller-scale crew operations. Of course, the yacht will also comply with Lloyds classification and MCA regulations.

While the slideshow below reveals a pear-wood and wenge interior highlighted by suede and white leather, YPI points out that interested parties can put their own imprint on the design. Construction won’t take place until a contract is signed. You can also have all woodwork and furniture created at Conrad, since the yard has a joinery shop, or subbed out to a contractor of your choice. (All welding takes place on site as well.)

Whatever the final decor looks like, the Conrad-Vripack 132 will keep an easy pace: just shy of 14 knots at top speed, thanks to twin Caterpillar C32 ACERTs. Range should be more than 5,000 nautical miles, and the eight-foot (2.52-meter) draft should permit pulling into a variety of quiet coves.

Asking price: €14.5 million ($18.8 million). Delivery should be two years after signing.

Sunseeker Brokerage Launches iPhone and iPad App

If you take your iPhone, iPod Touch, and/or iPad everywhere you go, now you can shop for your next Sunseeker superyacht whenever you want, with the swipe of your finger.

The Sunseeker Brokerage app, available for download for free from the Apple Store, was just released within the past two weeks. (The image here is a screenshot of the iPhone app.) It lets you view all new Sunseeker yachts as well as the brokerage division’s exclusive listings. For the new yachts, including the proposed 170-foot Zeus megayacht, you can access interior and exterior images, videos, specifications, and other details. Specs and photos on more than 200 brokerage yachts are also available.

Just like other apps, the Sunseeker Brokerage app automatically adjusts to display in landscape or portrait mode, depending on how you’re holding your device. This should be particularly helpful when watching the videos that are available.

There are a few other notable features contained within the app. Take a look at the bottom menu bar in the image, and you’ll see Saved Yachts (third from left). As the name suggests, it lets you save details on the yachts you’re most interested in, whether they may be new builds or brokerage listings. You can then access the information at your leisure, even when offline.

Whether you choose to save specifics on a yacht or are viewing them live, you may wish to share your discovery with your family or friends. Or, as much as you may not want to admit it, you might need to get approval from your official checkbook monitor (a.k.a. your spouse). In either case, you can email the data with just one touch.

Yet another handy feature: a Locations page, which helps you find the closest Sunseeker dealer. (Good for those of you who just can’t wait.) More than just a directory of names and numbers, Locations lets you view an office’s exact location, thanks to a “View on a Map” function. Of course, you can simply select the phone number or email to contact them, too.

Burger Launches Sea Owl

Sea Owl launch

It will be a few more weeks before their maiden cruise, but the owners of the 142-foot Sea Owl are closer than ever to the world cruising they have in mind.

Launched last weekend at Burger Boat Company, Sea Owl is the latest yacht for an experienced American family. In fact, she’s about 20 feet larger than their current megayacht, a same-named Delta.

The trideck layout of the Burger gives the owners and up to eight guests plenty of options for enjoying the ports they’ll visit. Inside, acres of teak line the walls and floors of every room, from the saloon and main-deck master to the sky lounge. During a visit I made to the yard last year, I saw the curving staircase connecting the decks starting to take shape. It’s topped by a skylight, a nice touch. Not yet in place, though, were the custom etched-glass balustrade at its uppermost level or the hard-carved depictions of wildlife adorning various doorways. (No matter: I’ll be visiting the yard within the next month and will get a close-up look then.) Outside, the owners and their guests can relax or dine at two custom, seven-foot-diameter round tables. There’s also the ubiquitous hot tub, sun lounges (complete with their own shading canopies), and sunpads.

The captain’s stateroom and four crew cabins are also outfitted in teak paneling.

Sea Owl’s air of nautical tradition is further heightened by her exterior. Styling and interior design comes courtesy of Andrew Winch Designs, while naval architecture and engineering are the work of Burger’s in-house naval-architecture team and Vripack. Since the owners intend a good deal of cruising, superyacht systems such as fuel purification and waste treatment will ensure Sea Owl can stay away from ports for lengths at a time.

More details to come after my yard visit.

Royal Van Lent Hands Over Superyacht Lady Christine

Feadship Lady Christine

If the Art Deco-inspired interior doesn’t get your attention, maybe the Key West meeting room will.

Those are among the highlights of the 68-meter (223-foot) Lady Christine, which Feadship’s Royal Van Lent recently delivered.

From the split-level owner’s deck (yes, deck) to the infinity pool on the main deck aft, this superyacht has some pretty super touches. Her owners knew what worked well on their previous yacht and what they wanted to do different. There’s a private cinema on the same level as the four guest staterooms, for example. There’s also intricate marquetry and inlays echoing the owners’ favorite places around the world, notably at the main entry and its spiral staircase plus the lobby of the bridge deck. In their suite, the owners enjoy a full-beam observation lounge one level above their stateroom and his-and-her offices/studies. They also have a private gym at their disposal.

Something I look forward to seeing when the yacht makes her debut at the Monaco Yacht Show: slide-back, full-height windows in the dining room, further accompanied by slide-out balconies on both sides. The balconies make Lady Christine’s already ample beam broaden, from 12.5 meters to 15 meters (41 to 49 feet, respectively).

Lady Christine’s dramatic profile, with “fish-eye” windows aft and some faux windows forward to keep the dark swatch going, comes courtesy of De Voogt Naval Architects. The spin on the Art Deco interior is from Rodney Black Design Studios, an award-winning firm that previously focused on interiors, architecture, and landscapes of fine homes. This is its first yacht project.

Villanova Grand Marina Partners With BWA Yachting

Vilanova Grand Marina

Docking at a marina is more than just the equivalent of finding a parking space. Especially for a megayacht owner, crew, and guests, it’s about receiving a certain level of service. With that in mind, Vilanova Grand Marina (above) has signed a multi-year agreement with BWA Yachting.

BWA Yachting will provide concierge services such as provisioning and jet/helicopter rental, but also other essential services for the guests of the marina, which is located in Vilanova i la Geltrú, about 35 minutes outside of Barcelona. These include assistance with yacht clearances, custom and immigration procedures, berth reservations, bunkering, banking transactions, and itinerary planning.

To provide a more hands-on relationship, BWA Yachting will open an office at the 49-slip Vilanova Grand Marina, which accommodates superyachts to 80 meters (262 feet). According to the marina’s management team, it has enjoyed a 60-percent occupancy rate since opening in April 2009, and Spain is increasingly growing as an off-season destination. To that point, the marina also has a refit and repair yard on site, and BWA Yachting can assist with freight services.