Part 2: Hubbard’s personal mission, however, was to have the safest vessel ever constructed.
By Liz Pasch — February 2005
Completely refurbished in 1994 and again in 2003, Mimi had a bus-depot look that is now only a faint memory. With comfortably elegant fabrics and decor, the spacious main saloon, dining area, and enclosed aft deck have a seating capacity large enough to accommodate the growing Hubbard family or guests attending their frequent business, community, or charity events. Pointing to a diagram, Hubbard describes Mimi’s seven watertight compartments, fireproof walls, and how Jack Hargrave was able to keep the 125-foot boat under 200 tons, which is virtually unheard of for a yacht this size. “The unusual thing about this boat is that each crewmember has their own cabin—a private cabin with shower, toilet, and lots of hanging space. Except for the two forward cabins, where they share the shower.” He looks again at the diagram, then adds, “It’s pretty nice for a crew.”
By the millennium Hubbard Broadcasting had expanded to New York, and all five of Hubbard’s children had joined the business. The clan thought they needed a bigger boat, so everyone joined in the planning and design of the company’s second megayacht, a 161-foot Palmer Johnson named Anson Bell, launched in 2002. “Everybody built the Anson Bell… my boys, our daughters, my wife [had a say] as to what features would be the best.”
Hubbard’s personal mission, however, was to have the safest vessel ever constructed. While she complied with the Lloyds standards that many megayachts adhere to, Anson Bell was the first U.S.-built yacht to also meet the more stringent requirements of the MCA Code—and she actually exceeded both agencies’ requirements for damage stability and fire resistance by incorporating things such as an extra watertight bulkhead. (For more information, see “Safe and Secure,” November 2002.) As Hubbard hands me the latest brochure on the yacht, his son and six-year-old grandson stop in for a quick visit. Watching them head back down the hall, the proud dad and grandpa says, “We had five [children], and they all love the boat. And 11 grandchildren, and they all love the boat.”
Unlike most boaters, who look forward to taking delivery of a subsequent vessel that’s at least a few feet bigger, Hubbard admits Anson Bell turned out to be too big for the family’s needs. That’s why she began chartering last summer; she’s already received bookings, including a cameo in the movie Ocean’s Twelve (which unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor). Leaning forward a little and lowering his voice, Hubbard confides Anson Bell is being considered for use in a second movie planned for filming in the Caribbean.
While the call of Hollywood might distract some owners, Hubbard remains focused on keeping both Anson Bell and Mimi in the family fold—and particularly in good shape. “You get a big boat, they cost a lot to operate,” he says, offering advice to future buyers. “It’s not buying them. It’s keeping them. If you can’t afford to keep it in first-class yacht condition, don’t buy it.” He adds, “We know how to do it cheaper than most people. Our captains are really good about watching the expenses.”
Speaking of expenses, with the tax advantages of foreign registration, I ask why both yachts display “St. Mary’s Pt., MN” on their transoms. He states with conviction, “Because we’re Americans, and we’re gonna fly the U.S. flag regardless of the advantages of foreign flags.”
There’s that trademark, to-the-point manner again.
Liz Pasch is a freelance writer and active boater in Minnesota.
This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.