Marie: That’s two off my “bucket list”

It’s Wednesday morning, 3AM.  actually, that’s “3-days-After-Marie”.

There is plenty of talk about “bucket lists”.   You know, the list of things that you are supposed to do before you die?  I understand that some folks get a bit crazy about making their list and then checking these items off.

Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t actually have a formal list.  However, I am a pretty practical guy and there are plenty of things I’d like to do but would never put on my list even if I had one, knowing that  I would be unlikely to be able to achieve them anyway.  Well, being in a race on one of the largest sailing yachts in the world is one of those things that I would hesitate to put on that list. as I frankly, “wasn’t expecting that” as being something that I’d ever do anyway.  Thanks to Ed, owner of the superyacht Marie, I was able to  quickly put that on my list and, just as quickly, checked it off.

Bucket list:  Sail on a super yacht.  Check…  Sail in a regatta for super yachts.  Check… Spend three days on the BIGGEST yacht in Newport Harbor.  Check… Do it all in one weekend.  Who knew?  A bucket Marathon?  Perhaps.  

Now that I think about it, there are plenty of things that I can put on my Bucket List but not a lot like these.  Sail to the Bahamas on my own boat.  Check… Sail to the Caribbean?  Sail across the Atlantic to the Med? Hmm…  I’ll have to think about those.   Sail around the world?  Not likely.

As I told a friend about our weekend of sailing on Marie, his response was simply, “Bob, how are you going to top this?”  Not sure I can, actually. However, I’ll sure try.

Marie is the “superyacht” Marie and Brenda and I just got back from three amazing days sailing aboard her in Newport over the weekend.   Marie, for those who might have missed the many posts that I have done that have mentioned her over the last year, is a 181′ Dutch built ketch from the Vitter’s Yard.   She is a remarkable yacht and built to exacting standards. Her owner Ed, made an interesting comment to me over the weekend when he remarked, about the quality of the work that went into Marie, “if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much”.  Well, I don’t have a lot to compare her to but my take on the whole thing is that Ed is accurate in his statement.   And, if that’s a true statement then Marie is perhaps the “fairest Dutch girl in the land”.

I have tried to describe Marie to some of my boating friends as I have shared our experience with and am finding myself at a bit of a loss.  Even when I tell them her length, 181′ I am pretty sure that they have no real clue about what that means.   And what’s more, the level of care that went into her design and construction, setting aside the ongoing up-keep, isn’t something that most can relate to.  Perhaps the closest comparison would be to compare her to a fine Swiss watch, and a 600,000+ pound one at that.  

It took some four years from start to finish to build Marie.  And I am sure that probably way understates the magnitude of the project.  However, when you look at her details first hand, you begin to understand.  While I didn’t see every corner of the boat, ship, yacht, I saw plenty and here are a few details to consider.

First, she’s massive.  Did I say that she’s big?   She weighs in at over 600,000 lbs.  Her main mast is a soaring 210′ tall.   She’s nearly 40′ wide.  Well, again, it’s hard to fathom what all this means.    Here’s a shot of her main mast with sails up. Every day someone goes up the mast to be sure that all her rigging is in perfect shape.  It’s hard to see but there is someone up there in this shot. Here’s a closeup.   Must be some view from up there.  Me, I’d have my eyes screwed shut clutching to the mast.Her winches… There are plenty and most are big enough to be a comfortable seat.  Here I am sitting on one that controls the running back stays for the main mast.  Here’s a crew member setting the running backstays under sail.  They have to be reset every time the boat tacks. And the huge masts have to be supported by massive hardware.  Here’s a turnbuckle.  It must weigh several hundred pounds.  Notice the stereo speaker at it’s base.   They blast rousing music before the race to get everyone in the mood.  I recall Michael Jackson’s Beat It as one of the more memorable tunes. It seemed just right.The masts and rigging, all made of carbon fiber, were made in New Zealand and shipped all the way to the Netherlands.  I understand that each shroud is carbon fiber and every one was fabricated to size as a single piece using a single thread run back and forth dozens of times in a continuous loop to complete the shroud.  No cutting the wire for the rig from a spool of wire for Marie.  This is Custom-Custom.   Bespoke actually, again, like a fine watch. 

The gooseneck, that connects the main boom to the magnificent piece of work.The main mast is spare in some ways and amazingly complex in others.  It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity or complex.  Art actually.   Nice mast boot.   Pandora has a mast boot.  Well, that’s about where the similarities begin and end. Speaking of art, these are Dorade vents on Marie to let fresh air down below. However, the AC was running the whole time so perhaps they feed air to the engine compartment.   Whatever they are they are certainly a feast for the eyes. Down below is light an airy with plenty of outside light streaming down through skylights port and starboard.  Theye are magnificent.  Notice the detailing in the teak decking surrounding them.  And, in spite of their delicate beauty, they are tough enough to withstand tons of seawater crashing down in a storm.  Amazing varnish. The spinnaker is a massive 16,000 square feet.  Heck, Pandora’s entire sailplan is 1/16th the size of that one sail.  I was told that pressure sensors on the rig show loads of near 70,000 lbs on the backstay. The engine room is beautiful.  I was given an hour long tour by Rich the engineer.  I’ll save the details for another post but the main engine is a whopping 1,100 HP.  What a magnificent piece of machinery.  The engine room is large and just packed from end to end with all sorts of gear.  Note the red flasher above the engine.  It’s so loud in there that the only way to know if there is an emergency is with a rotating flasher to get your attention.   Amazingly, in spite of all the noise, when you close the door to the engine room room, latch it and step outside, it’s suddenly completely silent.  You can’t even tell when the engine is on beyond a very subtle vibration in the decks.  More to come on the engine room in a future post.  So much to say, so little time…

The level of detail in the living areas of Marie is really something.  There’s even a baby grand Steinway piano.  And it plays itself if needed.  I am sure that Brenda would have loved to give it a try.   She didn’t.The main salon, quite a spot.  Note the stair rails.  They are all gold plated to avoid tarnishing.  Of course, why didn’t I think of that?Nice spot to sit and enjoy a quiet moment.  Yes, works for me.  I’ll take another Gin and Tonic please. Ed collects antique weapons and there is a miniature coat of armor in the aft hallway.  Not a great shot but I just had to include it.    Beyond is the owner’s cabin protected by a brace of antique cannons.  His cabin leads to a private cockpit.  Off limits to all but a chosen few.  Alas… I didn’t see…  Beautiful carpets everywhere. Not exactly what you’d expect to see out at sea.  Note the red leather lined shelving and the great floor lighting.  Speaking of cannons, there are two aft on deck that are fired regularly.  The engineer, Rich took time to show me exactly how they are prepared for firing.  I’ll save that for a future post.  For now, just a look at them.  I believe that they are from the 1600s. Beautiful pieces of art.Let’s just agree that Marie is magnificent in ways that defy description.    I could go on all day about her but I have to stop somewhere.  I have lots more to say than you probably have the patience to read.

Tough luck.  It’s my blog and I am going to write more although perhaps not today.  Besides, I need to get back to reality and the yard needs tending. Believe me, yard work is definitely NOT in my bucket list.

Alas, real life beckons…

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