Designing custom yachts provides me with opportunities to meet some of the world’s most interesting, charismatic and dynamic people. Accountants and TSA agents aside, I’m talking about my clients, those billionaire—and sometimes merely multimillionaire—boat owners. By the time a person has achieved the kind of financial success it takes to commission a yacht (or even buy a decent new production boat), he or she has bitten off the better part of a lifetime weaving a tapestry of personality into a lush comforter of character. Many of these clients have become luminaries. Some have become lunatics. This story is about one of the latter.
Several years ago a yacht broker friend of mine (more on the complicated broker-designer relationship in another issue) introduced me to a client of his who was looking to move up from his 100-footer into something a bit more civilized, around 140 feet. The array of white tri-deck motoryachts stretching to the horizon at the Ft. Lauderdale boat show didn’t offer what he was looking for, so he began to consider a custom vessel. I would soon find out why.
It seems everyone with a boat over 50 feet wants a transom garage to store a tender and a pair of PWCs. (Whatever happened to mounting a 13-foot Whaler on the foredeck and using the last 10 feet of your boat for drinking and fishing?) And once a yacht reaches 140 feet we’re into “beach club” territory. Water toys, dive tanks, an elliptical trainer, exercise ball and an 80-inch TV are de rigueur in the beach club. And sometimes a Corvette. They’re plastic, you know. Won’t corrode.
At anchor, these beach clubs provide a water-level oasis. There’s room to frolic—after you’ve set the Corvette to drift on a painter. (This is dry humor, dear reader. If you don’t know the nautical meaning of the word “painter” you might not be a real boater. Ask Siri, if you have to.) Our client wanted a proper beach club.
So if every one of the big motoryachts for sale at the Lauderdale boat show had a beach club on the transom, why didn’t our client find one to suit him? He delivered his answer with the confidence of Muhammad Ali at a press conference: “All of these beach clubs are missing one thing. A beach!”
This guy had a vision for a real beach so he could feel the warm sand under his feet, then dig his toes into the cooler grains, just like on an island. He even came to us with the idea of refrigerating the platform on which the sand would sit, to ensure it was cooler than the surface, even on the hottest day. Genius! Lunacy!
A cubic foot of dry beach sand weighs over 95 pounds, so I kept a straight face and began asking gentle questions. “How large an area do you envision this sand covering?” “How deep do you envision the sand?” All the while, images of waves and wake constantly ferrying his sand to its natural home at the bottom of the sea filled my noggin’. Clearly, reserves would be needed, I thought to myself sardonically. And a Sand Man -added to the crew to fill and rake on a frequent basis.
After a bit of quick-sand-math I determined that over 45,000 pounds of the stuff would be needed to achieve his vision. That’s the equivalent of parking a new 45-foot Hatteras on the swim platform of a 140-foot motoryacht. (Drinking and fishing problem solved.) Oh, and don’t forget the weight of the bucket of Coronas, a lime and a metal detector.