Believe me, I was well aware that my smiling mug was probably the last thing the captain of Party Girl wanted to see. He and his crew had pulled into Gustavia Harbor in St. Barts just minutes before I met them at the customs office, following their more than two-month, some 6,000-mile delivery of the new 146-foot Christensen from the shipyard in Vancouver, Washington. The last leg of their trip had included Tropical Storm Olga, which buried Party Girl's bow in seas up to the pilothouse windows. The circles under the captain's eyes were about as deep and relentless as the Atlantic had been the previous morning.
And did I mention that his first charter was set to start in just 48 hours? The guests, who'd arrived early, were standing on the dock outside the customs office, also smiling eagerly. And waving.
The captain somehow managed to smile back at them and make small talk before offering me a hand into Party Girl's tender. I waved alongside him as we left the future charter guests at the dock and cruised toward the yacht, which was at anchor. I'll admit, I was as excited as he was exhausted. Christensen Shipyards has been so successful with its semicustom 157 series (sold out through 2011) that the past few launches I've been onboard have all been from that line. I'd toured the most recent 157, Lady Joy, just three days earlier. As lovely as she was, I couldn't wait to see what Christensen's craftsmen had been able to do with this order for a custom 146.
It was an order, I'd been told, from a man who was quite keen on his new yacht living up to her name.
Party Girl is the dreamboat of an owner who has bought and sold close to a dozen yachts in the past quarter-century. "For years, he kept saying, ‘Let's think of the perfect boat,'" recalls his longtime broker, Jim McConville of International Yacht Collection in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "We collected information and pictures of things that he liked, and we threw them all into a file. It took us months to put the spec together."
They applied those ideas to a design that Christensen had in place and that the owner's designer, Sean Pavlik, would tweak before construction began, according to Christensen project manager Robert Emerson. The result is a yacht that marks several "firsts" for the yard, many of them keyed to the concept of the owner or charter guests hosting extravaganzas with as many as 150 people aboard. Yes, Party Girl is aptly named, right down to a blue bahia granite cocktail table on the sundeck that lowers nearly a foot along a chrome pole to convert into a go-go dancer's platform.
I'm happy to say that my duties did not include testing that platform, but I did put my imagination to good use (as I'm sure you are doing are right now) while I conducted a self-guided tour. The captain would be busy for the better part of the next hour trying to maneuver Party Girl into her slip with some fussy ground tackle, the final punch-list item at the end of the extended shakedown cruise.
I started with the skylounge and sundeck, as they are the owner's favorite places and thus the areas that received the most attention during the build, according to project manager Eric Shear. They're built to work together as one large entertaining area, and even in their delivery-mode disarray, with cushions strewn everywhere and shelves emptied of breakables, I could see that the spaces were well thought out for all-day-and-well-into-the-night functions.
This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.