Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mega Yachts come to Loreto!

Last weekend I was with a group of friends on a boat returning to the Marina in the town of Loreto from Coronado Island when we spotted two large "Mega Yachts" anchored offshore from the town.  Due to other boat traffic in the area our view was blocked until we were almost "abeam" of the two of them anchored some distance apart.  I first saw the more traditional of them which we were closest to before my attention was drawn by the other one a few hundred yards distant.

About twenty years ago I used to bare boat charter sailboats for holidays and for a number of years during that time I was a faithful subscriber to Yachting Magazine, where I avidly read articles and poured over photographs of state of the art Yachts.  A vivid memory from one of those sailboat holidays was seeing a yacht called Pegasus, that I had seen a feature article on, leaving the same harbor we were entering in the British Virgin Islands.  Although it has been many years since I had thought much about the rarified world of super Yachts, I found those memories coming back as we passed between these two floating palaces that had chosen Loreto as their however brief anchorage.

It was the other Yacht that was further away that commanded most of the attention from our boat, due to the radically distinctive design - I could tell, even from the distance we were, that it was probably a significant internationally known vessel, and that in turn raised a number of questions including: which Yacht was it, how big, and how much did it cost, among others!  As you can see from the hurried pictures I took as we passed, most of the rear transom was in a lowered position creating a dock across the stern of the ship and there was another opening on the starboard side where a motorboat tender was suspended, presumably in position to be stored inboard behind the lowered "door" that would close off the hull for travel.

By the time that I looked back to the first boat we had seen we were passing astern of it but I was able to glimpse the name "Ostar", which brings me to the other half of this story - Ostar is the name of Carlos Slim's Hotel division that is now the owner of the Loreto Bay Golf Resort and Spa.  While I have heard previously of numerous sightings of Sr. Slim's Yacht being anchored offshore around Loreto, this was the first time I had seen it "up close and personal" due to the coincidence of my being in the right place at the right time that afternoon returning to the Marina.

I was thinking back over this experience a few days later when my curiosity got the better of me and I
decided to try to find out what I could learn about these two massive Yachts from an internet search.  It did not take long to discover that the identity of the more unique of the two boats was in fact "Venus" and my hunch proved to be accurate regarding it's pedigree, it had been built for Steve Jobs (of Apple Computer fame) but it was completed a year after he had passed away and now belonged to his estate and wife Laurene.  Venus is 78 meters (255 feet) long, has a crew of 22 and can accommodate 12 (very indulged) Guests - at a cost of about $140,000,000 US!

In doing this research I quickly discovered that Venus was indeed quite a famous Yacht, the unique result of a collaboration between Steve Jobs (who was notorious for his attention to detail and design sense) working with international designer by Philippe Starck for over 5 years while it was being built at Feadship, a luxury Yacht constructor based in Holland.  It attracts attention worldwide wherever it goes and is apparently being repositioned to California, with Loreto, no doubt, being a pause in a Sea of Cortez side trip enroute.  I was even able to find this brief video (click the picture below to play) which gives an even better idea of the size and beauty of this vessel.

Although only by comparison, Ostar could almost be described as "modest" - in the league that Venus finds herself floating.  Built over 15 years ago in 1998, she is 52 meters (170 feet) long, has crew of 11 and can carry 11 Guests in 5 cabins.  Much less information is available online for Slim's boat, but one bit of trivia I found that puts this floating palace into somewhat sharper perspective is that it has a fuel capacity of 100,000 liters (26,500 gallons) and 5 years ago, when it was called Soulmate and was available for charter (presumably before Slim purchased it), you could hire it for between $200,000 and $250,000 per WEEK! 

Whether it was a coincidence that both these vessels were anchored off the town of Loreto on the same afternoon, and who was aboard, is open to any amount of speculation you may choose to indulge in.  But while Ostar has visited Loreto numerous times in the past, and, as Sr. Slim's business interests here continue to develop, will probably continue to be seen here more often in the future, the presence of a world class private Yacht like Venus on the same day is even more curious.  But regardless, on that day, returning from an idyllic afternoon spent on the beach at Coronado Island, it was one of those "Loreto Moments" to all of a sudden be surrounded by super Yachts, as we return to the modest Loreto Marina.  But "quien sabe" (who knows) perhaps this is a portent of what may become a more familiar part of "Living Loreto"!