Traffic stops for a variety of reasons any given day of the week along I-95, one of the busiest U.S. highways. Imagine, then, the traffic-halting situation that probably occurred this past weekend as Derecktor Shipyards, whose sheds and waterfront in Bridgeport, Connecticut are in full view from the roadway, gently slipped the largest American-built yacht into Long Island Sound.

Cakewalk in water

Cakewalk, America's largest yacht; Jim Raycroft photo

As many of us in the media have been reporting since the contract was signed in 2006, the 281-foot (85.6-meter), 2,995-gross-ton Cakewalk is the largest yacht by volume to be built on U.S. soil since the 1930s. An American couple who previously owned two European-built megayachts commissioned her. They firmly believed that they could get a well-engineered yacht stateside.

Cakewalk launch

Cakewalk dwarfs the Derecktor drydock; Jim Raycroft photo

For the launch, Derecktor employed its new 4,000-ton dry dock. The christening photo at left gives you a good idea of just how massive both the dry dock and the yacht herself are. In fact, it's tough to see the spray from the traditional champagne bottle breaking across her bow, and your eyes are naturally drawn to the flare of the bow and how towering it is over the powerboat below.

Indeed, everything about the steel-hulled Cakewalk is huge. Her beam is nearly 47 feet (14.3 meters). The superyacht rises six decks high, with the owners' and guests' relaxation spaces occupying much of them. She employs a 400-kW bow thruster. Two of her four main gensets are MTU 12V2000 M40Bs. Her twin MTU engines produce 3,306 hp apiece. Ninety-seven-thousand gallons (370,000 liters) of fuel are onboard, too.

You’ll have to wait until her debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to get a good look at her, with accommodation for 14 guests and 26 crew. For now, finishing work continues, and sea trials are expected shortly. Anticipated top speed is 17 knots, while anticipated cruise is 15 knots. Cruising range should be 5,000 nautical miles.

Being such a large, complex project, Cakewalk employed contributions from a number of companies worldwide. Some, like interior designer Dalton Designs, are based in the States. Others, like stylist Tim Heywood Designs and the naval-architecture team of Azure Naval Architects, are in the UK and Europe, respectively. Still others include McKay, a New Zealand-based firm that designed and supplied the electrical system plus the alarm and monitoring system. Some yards prefer not to credit subcontractors, but Derecktor’s vice president of business development, Gavin Higgins, readily acknowledges them. “You cannot successfully build a yacht of this size and complexity with having that sort of talent available,” he explains.

Derecktor also acknowledges the challenges it faced with Cakewalk. “Needless to say, as with any project of this scale and sophistication, there were some growing pains along the way, but we think the result speaks for herself,” Paul Derecktor, president of Derecktor, says.

I’ll be visiting the yacht soon and have a full report here on Megayacht News close to boat-show time.