The Biggest of the Baddest

Bart Roberts By Diane M. Byrne — February 2003

The Biggest of the Baddest
The massive Bart Roberts proves “it is a glorious thing to be a Pirate King.”
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• Part 1: Bart Roberts
• Part 2: Bart Roberts continued
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Admit it: At some point in your childhood, probably after reading Treasure Island or seeing Peter Pan, you thought it would be really cool to be a pirate. You imagined yourself sailing the high seas, searching for buried treasure on adventure after adventure, and perhaps best of all, playing with swords (with no meddling parents around to claim they were dangerous).

Whether or not Arnie Gemino dreamt of such things in his youth, he's given a lot of thought to the matter more recently. The chairman of marine and aviation service company Tradepower International, Gemino acquired a 265-foot, 2,000-ton Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker about two years ago at auction and spearheaded a 60-week conversion that transformed her into a dazzling, pirate-themed adventure-seeker. The name? Bart Roberts, after Bartholemew Roberts, one of the "Gentlemen of Fortune," as some famous pirates were called. Roberts earned renown for being handsome and well-groomed, always wearing elegant clothes and a jeweled cross, even during battle. But he also earned notoriety for assembling a pirate fleet so formidable that naval squadrons sent to seize him were said to turn back upon seeing his flotilla.

Gemino's Bart Roberts does reflect some of this aggressive imagery. Picture a massive black hull with "Bart Roberts" painted in gothic lettering, a crossed swords design on her funnel, a cannon in the saloon, and guest staterooms named for other fierce plunderers. (As for Roberts, a.k.a. Black Bart, his name graces the master stateroom.) But the minute you step onboard, instead of feeling as if you'll have to walk the plank, you're overcome with awed--even giddy--delight. For Gemino and the team he tapped to turn the 1963 Canadian Vickers-built vessel into a Lloyd's- and SOLAS-approved expedition charter yacht have incorporated the pirate theme in a much more stylish--and, in some respects, tongue-in-cheek--way.

Settling on the theme was easy. Gemino has long had an interest in pirates, and he wanted to get as far away as possible from what he saw as the typical yacht look. To use his words, in the 20 years he's been involved with yachts, "I've seen enough sculpted carpets and glossy tables."

Gemino's first step was finding a place to do the refit. He considered New Orleans, but his project manager and naval architect, Lennart Edström, suggested heading to Victoria, British Columbia, where they could assemble subcontractors to assist a team of their own making--essentially they'd be their own yard. In fact, they hired some of the very same crew who'd worked aboard the vessel when she was known as Narwhal. They found a ferry terminal that was no longer in operation and began the 60-week project.

Next page > Bart Roberts continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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

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