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Northern Marine's Machiko

Northern Marine’s MachikoBy Diane M. Byrne — July 2003

Blue Horizon Belle
A famous globe-trotter that’s been to places others only dream about is cruising again, thanks to visionary owners—and some dogs.
   
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Machiko
• Part 2: Machiko
• Machiko Specs
• Machiko Photo Gallery


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She was the kind of lady who turned men’s heads, not so much because of her looks (although she was striking to many), but mostly because she was the closest thing to a celebrity within the yachting world. She gained fame worldwide for making what to others would be only pipe-dream passages, setting course for unusual, out-of-the-way regions like French Guyana, transiting the passage between the Solomon and Coral Seas, and crossing oceans (yes, oceans) on her own. During her 1,000-day circumnavigation, even Mother Nature seemed, for the most part, to be one of her many admirers—although at one point there were Force 6 conditions that admittedly got the better of her.

Yet despite her accomplishments and celebrity status, you won’t find a biography or even a ghost-written autobiography of this adventurous spirit in your local bookstore, not even passing mentions of her in maritime history volumes. She doesn’t do the lecture circuit, either. That’s because “she” is the intrepid global explorer Starship, the Northern Marine-built 75-footer that voyaged 75,000 miles over a three-year period. (See “Starship Enterprise,” July 1999, and “Strangers in a Strange Land,” November 2000.) The quests she undertook with her then-owner, Michael Poliza, and her crew, a rotating assortment of scientists, journalists, and adventurers who gauged the condition of the world’s oceans and related marine environments, were chronicled daily on a Web site, which thousands of cruisers and armchair travelers alike checked out regularly.

That Web site and Starship’s function as a long-range, rugged cruiser are what convinced Chuck MacMahon of The Marine Group to recommend that his clients, a well-traveled couple, check out the yacht when the three of them, individually and collectively, began inspecting many similar yachts in her size range for purchase. In the decade that he’s known the couple, MacMahon has developed a close relationship with them, serving as buyer’s agent for their previous boat, a 57-foot Nordhavn, and as broker for the sale of that yacht. And they’re not just a couple who happened to have purchased a boat and were looking to buy a bigger one for occasional use. Their jobs keep them extremely busy, so they treasure the times they can get away, and they’ve considered cruising the world once they’ve had enough of the rat race.

But why Starship, beyond the fact that she had the rugged style they were looking for? After all, she was not a yacht in the traditional sense, she was more of a floating multimedia platform, equipped with about a million dollars’ worth of digital video and editing equipment, numerous cameras, and a digital photo lab. The reason came down to her proven seaworthiness, reliability, and safety, with the last of particular importance, as the couple’s faithful cruising companions, two German shepherds, could access all decks with relative ease. When they inspected her, they found she could be refitted to even higher levels of each to meet their needs. Thus began a labor-intensive, six-month refit to transform her into Machiko (the wife’s middle name), for which MacMahon took on another role for his clients: project manager.

The fact that the work was done essentially in MacMahon’s backyard, at Harbor Towne Marina in Dania Beach, Florida, made it convenient for him. And even though the owners live out of state, the husband rented a house in the area to stay involved in the process. In fact, according to MacMahon, “He was there for three months every day.”

Next page > Part 2: The owners wanted to ensure that Machiko would be a refuge of peace and quiet. > Page 1, 2, 3, 4

This article originally appeared in the June 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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