Capt. Glen Allen, who spent the past 13 years with Fleet Miami, has taken a position as sales manager with Derecktor Fort Pierce.
Capt. Allen’s primary role will be to attract large motor yacht and sailing yacht business to the new shipyard. He began last week.
“I’ve always been interested in advancing the industry and bringing along young crew members,” Capt. Allen said. “In Fort Pierce, this is a prime way to help develop an industry in a town that needs industry economically.”
Derecktor Fort Pierce is expected to begin hauling vessels by the end of the year, but still await permits to construct the slipway for its 1,500-ton lift. It currently has dockage with power and water and can accommodate outside contractors for things like in-water paint jobs and dockside maintenance.
“Overall, it’s an exciting thing in the development of the megayacht industry for South Florida,” Capt. Allen said. “It’s an opportunity to expand the horizons, if you will, of what South Florida has to offer. We’re just an hour and 10 minutes from South Florida, and some vendors have talked about putting satellite offices here.”
Capt. Allen began running boats in 1987 when he was hired to run charters on M/Y Gypsy, a 65-foot pilothouse motorsailer based in St. Thomas. After three years, he went to work for an owner in Annapolis and eventually would oversee the build of a 95-foot Sparkman & Stephens-designed ketch at Derecktor shipyard in Mamaroneck, New York, in 1995.
He ran other vessels, including the 125-foot (38m) Feadship M/Y Andiamo, and oversaw the build of the 220-foot (67m) Lurssen M/Y Apoise. After that project, the economic downturn slowed yachting and he met Michael Saylor, who hired him to finish the build of M/Y Harle, a 147-foot (44.6m) Feadship.
“We didn’t want to stay,” Capt. Allen said of he and his wife, Suzan, who had worked with him on all the previous yachts and build projects. “But we found Mr. Saylor so intriguing and his program so interesting that we stayed 13 years.”
Capt. Allen stepped back from Fleet Miami on April 1 and continues to serve the company as a consultant. Capt. Carey Drake, who ran M/Y Harle for the past five years, has taken over as fleet captain. The fleet includes the 154-foot (47m) Delta M/Y Usher, the 87-foot (25m) Warren Mystique as well as several sportfish and cruising boats.
Progress on the development of the yard in Fort Pierce is continuing, despite COVID-related delays, said Justin Beard, marketing manager for the 73-year-old company. The lift has been ordered and is in pre-assembly at the manufacturer in Italy.
“Sept. 1 is a critical date for us; that’s when we start paying rent,” Beard said. “With COVID, the project has stalled while we wait for permits, but we’re still moving forward.”
The shipyard applied on Nov. 1 for its construction permit to dig out the slipway from the Army Corps of Engineers. That approval is still pending, Beard said, adding that the yard expects to know by the end of next month.
Meanwhile, when complete, the lift will be loaded onto 42 shipping containers and shipped to Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, then barged the 100 miles up to Fort Pierce where “by the end of the year, we hope to have it operational,” Beard said. Assembly of the lift once on site will take six weeks, he said.
Derecktor signed a 30-year lease agreement with St. Lucie County in April 2019 to lease 12.3 acres of property and convert it into a megayacht repair facility, hiring local workers and eventually relocating its headquarters there from its yard in Dania Beach.
The old packing house from the 1920s that was on the property that the shipyard is leasing from the county was demolished in October. The 50,000-square-foot metal building from the 1940s remains and will be converted into workshops. Other ideas are on the drawing table, “but first we need to bring in revenue,” Beard said.
An opinion piece in the local paper two weeks ago raised concerns that the shipyard would not be operational by Sept. 1, but “nowhere in the agreement does it say we have to be operational by Sept. 1,” Beard said. “There are no deadlines for deliverables.” (Read Derecktor CEO Paul Derecktor’s response to that opinion piece here.)
But he did note that the yard is as eager as the local community — and the international yachting community — to open and begin servicing yachts.
“We’ve made a $6 million capital investment here,” he said. “We’ve made a prudent business decision to have this lift and we’re hoping to bring in revenue as soon as possible.”
Key to that is hiring Capt. Allen, who will interact with his contacts throughout the industry to attract large yachts, their captains and crew, and their owners to Fort Pierce.
Capt. Allen is also the current president of the International Superyacht Society, was recently elected to the board of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, which owns the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, and sits on the board of the International Seakeepers Society.
“Glen’s broad experience as a yacht captain, sailor and leading voice in the international superyacht community make him the ideal person to attract the global fleet to Derecktor Ft. Pierce,” Derecktor President Paul Derecktor stated. “The yard is the newest American shipyard specifically designed and built for the 200-foot, 900-ton and up customer.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher/editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.