After a top-to-bottom renovation, a classic, prewar property in New York City is available for rent at upwards of $55,000 per week. Space is tight, but it features 360-degree water views.
Built in 1926, the property is a 122-foot wooden yacht, Mariner III, that recently underwent a $750,000 renovation by Mitchell Turnbough, a New York-based interior designer, and the boat’s owner and captain, Sean Kennedy.
Restoring the yacht to its original grandeur has been a goal of Mr. Kennedy’s since his father spied it from a sea plane in Palm Beach, Fla., and bought it for over $1 million in 1979. Since then, the boat has had numerous celebrity encounters, most notably when Harrison Ford and his then-wife, Melissa Mathison, lived aboard the Mariner III off the coast of Belize during the filming of “The Mosquito Coast” in 1986.
The recent refitting took four months and involved stripping away the ceiling and carpeting below deck to expose the teak beams and planks. Many of the original details, such as the brass portholes and mother-of-pearl light sconces, were polished to their original splendor. In the wheelhouse, modern navigational and communications equipment sits near the yacht’s old radio equipment, compass, rudder indicator and original helm.
Elsewhere, modern conveniences are cleverly concealed. Capt. Kennedy built a special writing desk that doubles as a cabinet to hide the air-conditioner, and the engine room doubles as a laundry room. There are no televisions or telephones aboard because “they didn’t have any of those things in the 1920s,” says Capt. Kennedy, though they do have wireless internet access.
The boat was designed by naval architect Leslie Geary and built in Winslow, Wash., for Capt. James Griffiths, who named it “SueJa III” and traveled up and down the West Coast for pleasure. During World War II, it was drafted for service, patrolling the Aleutian Islands.
With six cabins and three bathrooms, the yacht is designed to sleep up to 10 people, with separate quarters for a crew of six or seven. Because of the cozy bedrooms, there isn’t much storage space, and Capt. Kennedy advises not to bring hard suitcases. But “New Yorkers have told me the galley is larger than their studio apartment,” the captain adds.
The Kennedy family has been in the boat-engine business since 1912, when William Patrick Kennedy started what is now Kennedy Engine Co. in Biloxi, Miss. That’s where the current Capt. Kennedy and Mr. Turnbough, the designer, first met as children. Their grandparents worked together in a shipyard.
Capt. Kennedy, who is 57 years old, first met and later married his wife, Francesca, aboard the Mariner III. Their 17-year-old son, Finn, spends his summers working on the boat, polishing brass and doing other chores.
Lucy Buffett, little sister of island-escapist musician Jimmy Buffett, spent time aboard Mariner III as the chef of the Harrison Ford charter. “Living and working aboard that boat was one of the peak experiences of my life,” says Ms. Buffett, 62, a restaurateur in Gulf Shores, Ala. She recalls when she and Ms. Mathison published a weekly newsletter, “The Mighty Mariner.” Total circulation: seven. “Every two weeks or so you had to get off the boat for a bit, but you really learned that you didn’t need much to live,” she says.
There are two 50-kilowatt generators on board and a desalination machine. It takes 3½ days for the boat to travel from New York to Palm Beach.
Capt. Kennedy says fixing a price on the vintage watercraft is difficult. In the past, wooden yachts of this caliber have sold for upwards of $5 million. A week aboard the yacht for trips along the eastern seaboard and as far south as the Bahamas starts at $55,000. Prices can go up depending on fuel costs, additional crew and other extras. In addition to chartered trips, the yacht is available for private parties of up to 70 people, with prices starting at $10,000.
For the summer, Mariner III docks in Sag Harbor, N.Y., as well as Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers, where it sits between modern megayachts. The wooden boat looks austere by comparison, but Mr. Turnbough says this is what makes it so special to live on. “That true simplicity. That’s a type of luxury we have forgotten these days.”
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