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Oldest yachts shine at Palm Beach show

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Surrounded by big white boats at the Palm Beach International Boat Show sit a few unusual vessels, partly because of their hulls, mostly because of their age.

 

It’s hard to miss the 121-foot (37m) M/Y Montrevel, with her riveted steel hull. Built in 1958 as an expedition vessel, it was refit in 2001 as a personal yacht.

 

“It’s a lovely boat to entertain on,” said Stew Gestel Kuyler, pointing out two large teak tables that fold out to make one on the upper aft deck. She can accommodate 10 guests.

 

The yacht is home-ported in Monaco and includes the Monaco Yacht Club burgee painted on its stack. The crew, led by Capt.

 

Sannoch Clark, cruised the Bahamas with the owner before heading to the show.

 

“It’s a very heavy boat,” Clark said. “She has variable pitch props; she doesn’t like to stop. She bites in and keeps on going.”

 

Find Montrevel in the YachtZoo display. She’s listed at $5.4 million.

 

At the south end of the show in the Bartram & Brakenhoff display is M/Y Enticer, the oldest yacht in the show. Built in 1935 as a private yacht, the 85-foot vessel is a wooden-hulled Mathis Trumpy.

 

She immediately stands out, covered in varnish and sporting all the classic lines of these pre-war vessels. The yacht had a structural renovation by Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine in 2001 and a refit in 2010 by McMillen Yachts in Rhode Island. McMillen has created a fleet of pre-war wooden yachts, often salvaged from certain loss, by finding like-minded history and yachting buffs willing to invest time and money in their rebirth. Enticer is owned by eight partners in a fractional ownership program.

 

“There are no basketball players here,” said Todd Jarem, manager of restoration at McMillen Yachts. “These owners get into it and they know they have to wait. It’s a wooden boat. Whatever they put in, they know they’re going to have to put in a little more.”

 

The company has restored 15 such boats thus far, including M/Y Freedom, the 104-foot sister-ship to the former presidential yacht M/Y Sequoia. Freedom, also a Mathis Trumpy but build in 1926, was saved from a river in North Florida with holes in her hull and completely refurbished.

 

“For 20 years, he [owner Earl McMillen] has been finding wooden yachts in horrendous shape and getting a conglomerate of owners to finance the refit,” Jarem said.

 

The company takes pains to find original or period-specific hardware and parts to keep the appearance of the yacht as authentic as possible.

 

“But under the skin, they have to be reliable and safe,” Jarem said as he raised the master bed. Tucked underneath was the gyro stabilizer.
The yacht is long and narrow, which makes it efficient in the water, but it’s also three decks high and that makes it tipsy. Fin stabilizers wouldn’t work with the shallow-draft hull (plus, who wants to put holes in a wooden hull?) so engineers worked out a way to make the gyro stabilizer work.

 

 

“It’s completely transformed the usability of the boat,” said Jarem, who detailed trips to Nantucket and around Newport with nary a glass sliding about. “But we’re not going to take her out in a storm, still.”

 

McMillen has never done a boat show before, though Bartram & Brakenhoff is no stranger to pre-war wooden vessels. It showed the oldest yacht in the show last year, too: the 92-foot M/Y Innisfail.

 

And that’s the fun of a boat show, to see all the newest in the industry, sure, but to see the unexpected, too. And besides,

 

Enticer has a couple ownership slots available.

 

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton.

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