Working in yacht design can sometimes take you to the dark side without warning. The Hargrave studio’s proximity to Miami and that city’s centrality to many things illicit—drugs, gambling, big money and “the family”—seemed to breed surprises, especially in the ’80s.
Drug smugglers usually purchased their boats used or directly from builders, but we once had an inquiry for a design defined only by speed and “bale capacity.” We declined, but that didn’t protect us from scrutiny by the FBI, who came calling at our office on another matter. The feds asked why we had received payments from a certain businessman on Miami’s “Thunderboat Row.”
It had started innocently enough. Bill Garden, the famed Pacific Northwest naval architect, had designed a large sailboat. Rather than flying cross-country to carry out a simple stability test on the completed yacht in Miami, he called and asked us to do the job.
We complied and thought no more about it until the FBI informed us that the boat’s owner was Ben Kramer—a man the Sun-Sentinel once called “one of South Florida’s most notorious drug kingpins,” a man convicted of ordering the murder of Cigarette’s Don Aronow and a man who once botched a helicopter escape attempt from prison.
The investigators cleared us, but I’m sure my name resides today, decades later, in some government database.
When Fidel Castro shut down the casinos in Cuba, they soon reopened in the Bahamas. Miami wasn’t that far away, so several casino bigwigs kept homes and yachts there. We were subcontractors on a complete repower for a sizable sportfisherman: new engines, new gears and new custom propellers at considerable expense. The props were late in delivery, so we sent the client fishing with a temporary pair, at a top speed several knots shy of what he had prior to all that expenditure.
We assured him, through an intermediary, that the promised speed would be achieved with the new props, but as week after week went by, the client became increasingly impatient, and the middleman became increasingly nervous, concerned with his personal safety—and mine.
The new props finally arrived and all was well in the end, but the poor guy lost a couple years of longevity, I’m sure, and I had a new appreciation for the importance of careful calculations.
Big money in Miami is measured not in millions, but billions. David Paul, chairman of Centrust Bank, visited our office one day to discuss a design for his new yacht. After meeting with him for several hours, Jack Hargrave and I talked privately. We’d both picked up bad vibes and declined any involvement in the project.
Good decision. The builder went bankrupt and Miami Beach’s mayor was jailed on convictions for tax evasion, accepting bribes while in office and obstructing an investigation. According to The New York Times, one of his admissions was “having taken $35,000 in Centrust bribes” in exchange for helping Paul get permits to expand his dock. As the broader web unraveled, Paul was convicted of 68 federal counts, including 47 for bank fraud in connection with Centrust’s $1.7 billion failure.
“Family businesses” have always had a whispered presence in international yachting. I’ve had several close encounters, but one stands out. After signing the contract to refit a superyacht, the owner’s Miamibased “nephew” informed me that my new client was “the most important man in Sicily” and that I “should do a good job for him.” Well, okay then. The job was going smoothly, but during one visit to the yacht, I was unable to get a hotel room, so I was invited to stay aboard that night. Without explanation, the captain advised that my stateroom would be locked and that the crew would let me out in the morning.
It was not the ideal guest experience, but it wasn’t the worst. That would be my night in a Panamanian prison, another story for another day.
Dilbar is the largest launch of the past year. Built by Lürssen under the project name Omar, she measures 511 feet 9 inches (156 meters). Precious little is known about her. As with most superyachts of her magnitude, builders are bound by confidentiality agreements. We do know her interior is by Winch Design. She has been seen undergoing sea trials in Germany. For more information: lurssen.com Owing to many owners’ desire for privacy, it has become increasingly challenging for the public to gain access to superyachts, especially when they’re new. More and more builders are required to sign nondisclosure agreements that cover everything from the exact length of the boat to accommodations plans, design descriptions and even the name of the boat. The woodworker who decides to snap a photo of his handiwork and upload it to Facebook would be in serious jeopardy of losing his job. Understandably, some builders and designers must remain circumspect about the information they are allowed to share.
1 2 3 4 5 (T)6 (T)6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Azzam Eclipse Dubai Dilbar Al Said Topaz Prince Abdulaziz El Horriya A( S) Yas Ocean Victory Al Salamah Rising Sun Serene Al Mirqab Octopus Maryah Katara Savarona Golden Odyssey Alexander A Turama Kleven 370 Atlantis II Issham Al Baher Pelorus 591 533 532 512 508 482 482 478 468 463 459 456 454 439 436 414 410 408 408 404 400 390 382 381 380 380 377 180 162.5 162 156 155 147 147 145.72 142.81 141 140 139 138.4 134 133 126.2 125 124.4 124.28 123.2 122 119 116.41 116 115.82 115.76 115 2013 2010 2006 2016 2008 2012 1984 1865 2015 2014 2014 1999 2004 2011 2008 2003 2015 2010 1931 2015 1965 2008 1990 2016 1981 1973 2003 Lürssen Blohm+Voss Platinum Yachts Lürssen Lürssen Lürssen Helsingor Vaerft Samuda Bros Nobiskrug ADM Shipyard Fincantieri Lürssen Lürssen Fincantieri Yachts Kusch Yachts Lürssen Elefsis Lürssen Blohm+Voss Lürssen Lubecker Flender Werke Blohm+Voss Rauma Shipyard Kleven Hellenic Shipyards Hellenic Shipyards Lürssen
Kleven 370, built at the commercial Kleven Werft shipyard in Norway, measures 380 feet 6 inches (116 meters) and is purportedly a luxury expedition vessel with connections to 351-foot (107meter) Ulysses, launched last year at the same shipyard for New Zealander Graeme Hart. The rugged yacht is by Norwegian design and engineering firm Marin Teknikk in cooperation with naval architect Kyle Dick of New Zealand-based OscarMike Ltd. She is designed for lengthy trips in rough waters, while still maintaining comfort. For more information: klevenmaritime.no Mistral, the 347-foot-10-inch (106-meter) Lürssen with naval architecture by Lürssen and exterior styling by Espen Øino, has been delivered to her owner. For more information: lurssen.com