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By Carlos Miller
During his 20 years working in the yacht business, project manager Greg Cox has overseen more than 50 projects, mostly repainting and refitting boats.
Not one of those projects lasted longer than 16 weeks. And not one of those projects gave him an almost limitless budget.
But then again, not one of those projects required him to completely gut the yacht, stretch her by 18 feet in length and 15 feet in height, and re-insure her as a brand new vessel.
Cox has overseen the nearly three-year rebuild of the former M/Y Danielle (a 115-foot Broward) into the 133-foot custom yacht now called M/Y Serque.
With a refit cost of $18 million atop the 2005 purchase price of $6 million, the vessel has been reinsured for more than $20 million.
But building a completely new yacht was not the original plan.
“Initially, it was assigned to me to replace a blown engine,” Cox said.
It all started in September 2005 when the yacht’s new owner took it out from a New York port for the first time after purchasing it a month earlier.
“He ended up losing one engine and losing his pressurized water,” Cox said. “He ended up with no hot water.”
Disappointed with his new boat, the owner had it tugged down to Virginia, where Cox was working at the time. As the engine room came apart, the owner’s disappointment turned to disgust.
“Once the engines were removed, he did not like what he saw in the engine room,” Cox said.
Nor did he like what he saw in the boat’s plumbing, beneath the carpet and within the overhead.
“The quality of the material was not good,” said Cox. “It was basically a lot of plywood. So we kept going further and further into the boat and eventually, we just had it gutted.”
They brought the yacht to Lauderdale Marine Center in 2006 for the rebuild, keeping just 40 percent of the original metal weight.
Today, after three laborious years, the transition is almost complete. M/Y Serque will debut at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and undergo sea trials shortly after.
“There really is no boat like this,” Cox said. “And there really is no owner who would invest the money that he did.”
In fact, it would have made more business sense to simply buy a new yacht. But the owner, a New York developer, airline pilot and entrepreneur, wanted to personalize his vessel.
“He converts buildings in Manhattan, so he said, ‘if I can convert a building, I can convert a boat,’” Cox said.
M/Y Serque now has four water heaters and five pumps that provide pressurized water throughout the vessel. She is able to pump 3,600 gallons of potable water a day where the Danielle, with only one water heater and one pump, was able to pump out 1,100 gallons a day.
Both anchors were replaced with anchors nearly twice the size as before, and there are now four methods of communicating with land, including Wi-Fi Internet, Fleet broadband, a Sea Tel satellite system and a cell phone system. She also carries 17 televisions (with an average screen size of 50 inches).
The yacht now has six staterooms (instead of four) and nine heads (instead of seven). And there are berths for six crew.
It is a boat fit for a king, which is why the owner’s wife suggested the name Serque, as in Sir K. (The family name begins with a K.)
Carlos Miller is a freelance writer and photographer in Miami. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.