Roberts — By Diane M. Byrne
— February 2003
The Biggest of the Baddest
|Part 2: Plenty of modern-day attractions are spread over the abundance of exterior areas.|
It could have taken much longer, if the Canadian government hadn't already spent millions in 1986 gutting the ship and upgrading and replacing wiring, electronics, gensets, and the 2,000-hp Ruston diesel engines (housed in an utterly cavernous space). The government also turned over plenty of spare parts. (If one doesn't exist, it can be made--onboard: The vessel has a fully operational fabrication shop, complete with milling machine and a welding system.) Of course, Gemino's team did need to remove a good deal of materials, to the tune of about 350 tons, comprised mostly of unneccessary towing winches and other equipment, as well as some bulkheads.
Almost the exact same weight in stone, brick, cement, and furnishings began going back into the vessel once the rooms started taking shape. The most dramatic example: the saloon. Gemino calls the sole's design "brick art," comprised of hundreds of bricks juxtaposed in artistic arcs. Taking center stage is a massive, 14-ton stone fireplace, adorned with the halves of a cannon and a cluster of cannonballs. (For stability, Gemino says, each stone was drilled, then a steel rod was epoxied to it, and the rod was in turn welded to a base.) A commissioned painting of Roberts himself hangs above it all.
But that's not the end of the saloon's features; after all, the room measures 65 by 30 feet. Throw rugs spread aft conceal an inlaid wood dance floor. A curved bar aft to starboard features a glass-topped "ocean floor" design, with a handful of doubloons, a pistol, and a jeweled cross (Black Bart's, perhaps?) scattered across sand.
Unlike most large yachts--converted craft and new-builds alike--Bart Roberts doesn't have a bulkhead dividing the saloon from the formal dining room. But she does have something no other vessel can lay claim to: a 400-gallon piranha tank acting as a formidable and scenic separator. Gemino liked the idea of having a fish tank onboard, "but not fruity little goldfish." The fish swim around a custom-designed, faux-rusted bollard. Banish all fear of the piranhas getting loose--Gemino says the top of the tank can be sealed for transit in rough seas, yet the tank itself remains aerated for the fish's health.
The health of guests is certainly attended to, as there is a combination spa/hospital room onboard and ten ample staterooms to relax in, spread over two decks. Anyone with fond memories of, say, The Pirates of Penzance will certainly feel like the famed Pirate King, as each room is named after a pirate and contains both a custom portrait of him or her (yes, there were famous female pirates) and an accompanying brief biography. Karen Bamford, the interior designer, did a lot of research to make each guest feel like a robber baron/baroness. The four staterooms on level three are named for: Capt. Kidd, a privateer-cum-pirate whose dead body was dipped in tar and hung in chains as a warning to would-be pirates; Anne Bonny, an Irish lass who left her husband to plunder alongside John "Calico Jack" Rackham; Howell Davis, Black Bart's mentor; and Samuel Bellamy, one of the most active freebooters.
The remaining five staterooms, on level five, are named for John Rackham, known as "Calico Jack" due to his printed coats and pants; John Avery, one of Britain's most famous pirates and who taxed any ship that wanted to pass his blockade; Henry Morgan, a reknown privateer who later became Deputy Governor of Jamaica; Mary Read, who lived her life disguised as a boy and joined John Rackham's crew; and Blackbeard, one of the most feared pirates, named for the mass of black hair that nearly covered his entire face.
In fact, it's Blackbeard's cabin that Gemino says his guests fight over. No wonder--the bed is outfitted in black leather, and in the portrait, Blackbeard points a pistol that eerily seems to follow you no matter where you stand.
Of course, not everything about Bart Roberts evokes the days of yore. Plenty of modern-day attractions are spread over the abundance of exterior areas. The biggest (and we mean that literally) is the foredeck, which contains an 18-passenger, 50-foot catamaran, a 38-foot aluminum landing craft, a crane to launch them, plus a hidden swimming pool. The landing craft has a full bath and shower, so it can be used as an ideal getaway vessel if Bart Roberts heads to the islands on a charter; it's equipped with twin 350-hp engines and, Gemino says, can even push the yacht if a tricky situation arises.
But the way the pool is put into place is even more remarkable. When it's not in use, it's stowed in a steel frame on rollers in a huge hold below the foredeck (the rollers permit it to be flushed to one side if more large items need storing). When guests want to use the pool, a giant hatch between the toys first lifts up with the aid of the crane and stows away by sliding into rails on the foredeck. Then the ten- by 20-foot pool raises up to the deck and locks into place with pins, and Bart Roberts' watermakers fill `er up.
To look at the aft deck, you'd never know that it used to be home to a giant towing winch. The spot previously occupied by the winch is now an alfresco dining area, fully shaded by the helideck created one level up. (The helideck is additionally supported by four stanchions that were installed aft of the dining table.) Surround Sound speakers are cleverly concealed within the wood-slatted ceiling above the dining table, as are vents to permit the ten-ton air-conditioning system to make the area comfortable.
Beyond all of this, Bart Roberts benefits from a few noteworthy technical features. For example, in the pilothouse there's a sunken room--the size of a guest stateroom on many yachts--aft to port for just the telephone wires. A helicopter hanger on the upper deck that's both air-conditioned and heated telescopes out electrically to cover a long-range Bell Ranger. A 5,000-gallon refueling station (nonoperational at present) is located here as well, as is a foam-based firefighting system. And finally, all exterior deck areas are monitored via a closed-circuit television contained in a small security office forward to port of the saloon. It's also in close proximity to the gangway for monitoring. If the yacht does charter, Gemino says it will be manned 24 hours a day.
That won't be hard to do, considering Bart Roberts accommodates a crew of 18 in the forepeak (previously home to five D.C. winches) and six additional officers, including the captain, aft of the wheelhouse. The six officers have individual suites, while the forepeak contains traditional crew staterooms and two large dorm-style bathrooms (one for men, one for women).
Judging from charter inquiries Gemino and Camper & Nicholson (which also has the yacht for sale) have received, Bart Roberts won't meet the same fate as her nefarious namesake. In February 1722 a Royal Navy warship caught Roberts' fleet at Parrot Island, located off the Guinea coast, and one of the first broadsides killed him. Before the crew were captured by the Navy, they threw his body overboard, following his wishes--fancy clothes, jewels, and all. His corpse was never found.
Or was it? After all, there is that jeweled cross in the bar...
For more on the refit, visit www.mvbartroberts.com.
Camper & Nicholson's – Luxury Yacht Sales Phone: (561) 655-2121. www.camperandnicholsons.com.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.