By Tom Serio
The ink had barely dried on Derecktor Shipyards’ agreement to develop industrial waterfront in Ft. Pierce into a megayacht refit shipyard when it had its first visitor.
Understanding that the new shipyard has not been built-out yet, the crew of S/Y Unfurled, a 151-foot sloop, opted to pull in for a number of reasons. The performance cruiser built by Vitters Shipyard departed Rybovich shipyard on May 7, headed out Palm Beach Inlet and pointed the bow eastward toward Europe. Early in the trip however, the crew realized they had a problem with the forward rigging and would have to return to Florida for repairs.
It just so happens that Unfurled Chief Officer Julian Horsley had a chance meeting with Doug Morrison, head of business development at Derecktor Shipyard Florida, in Antigua recently and had stayed in touch with him. Horsley recalled the conversation about the new yard and discussed the option with Capt. Adam Bateman.
“We were about 50 miles offshore and calculated that it would take 10-12 hours to get back to Palm Beach and Rybovich,” Capt. Bateman recalled. “I didn’t want to fight against the Gulf Stream. Fort Pierce Inlet was only four or so hours away, so we headed there.”
Knowing that they could tie up in deep enough water for their 16.5-foot draft (keel up) and no width restrictions for her 32-foot beam, Capt. Bateman had other items in his favor. The new facility — now known as Derecktor Ft. Pierce (DFP) — will accommodate yachts “in the 200-foot-plus range,” according to the company, and the channel into the port has a maintaining depth of 28 feet with no overhead obstructions.
“It’s an easy destination to find, a straight transit through the inlet to the dock, there are good nav markers, a constant draft and no air restrictions,” he said. Unfurled has a 213-foot Southern Spars carbon fiber mast.
Capt. Bateman’s only concern was transiting a new inlet at night.
“We came in around midnight, and the inlet is not that wide, but it worked out,” he said.
After a series of phone calls, they were able to get technicians on site the next day to facilitate repairs.
It was a bit of a surprise to Tiffany Graves, manager of the Derecktor Ft. Pierce yard, who recently joined the company.
“I didn’t know they were here until I looked out my window and saw the mast behind a neighboring yacht,” she said. Her efforts to make the crew feel comfortable didn’t go unnoticed. According to Horsley, “the Derecktor folks did all they could do to help. Nice hospitality.”
The following day, with repairs completed and her crew of nine prepped for the journey, Capt. Bateman again pointed the bow of S/Y Unfurled toward the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean for the long crossing.
Capt. Tom Serio is a freelance captain, writer and photographer in South Florida. Comments are welcome below.