Boating: Lady and the Champ
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast in late August of 2005, the employees keeping watch at the 38-acre Trinity Yachts shipyard in New Orleans initially were not overly concerned. They had weathered major storms before.
Trinity, one of the country’s largest builders of super yachts, recently had completed its 180-foot Mia Elise, a Robb Report Best of the Best honoree this year. The company had delivered the yacht to the Mediterranean, but the yard held seven other boats, including the 161-foot Zoom Zoom Zoom and the 156-foot Lady Florence, both of which were virtually finished. Near them floated the 157-foot Lady Linda, a $25 million–plus yacht that cosmetics executive Doug Von Allmen of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had commissioned. When Katrina hit, Lady Linda’s hull and superstructure were complete, but many wooden interior pieces were still packed away.
During a moment when cell phones were operating, one of the workers at the Trinity yard called a supervisor to report that the roof was blowing off the shed in which he had taken shelter. Soon, the lines securing the yachts began snapping, producing sounds like cannon shots. Then the supervisor lost all communication with the shipyard.
It took two days to determine that all six employees had survived. The shipyard was a shambles, but remarkably, Zoom Zoom Zoom, Lady Florence, and Lady Linda had sustained only minor damage—though Lady Linda’s interior pieces had been destroyed in their crates.
Trinity CEO John Dane III responded quickly, acquiring another facility in Gulf port, Miss., and spending about $20 million to convert it into Trinity’s new base of operations. In Gulf port, Trinity completed Lady Linda—the first to emerge from the new yard—in time for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show this October. The boat, which follows a 150-foot Trinity that Von Allmen purchased in 2000, incorporates several improvements over that vessel, including stronger bow thrusters, zero-speed stabilizers, and an improved noise-reduction package. Two 2,250 hp Caterpillar 3512B engines drive the yacht to a maximum speed of 23 mph, and a draft of 7 feet 2 inches permits cruising in relatively shallow waters.
About nine months were required to replace the destroyed wooden pieces before London designer Evan Marshall could realize his plan for the interior. As he had done previously with Zoom Zoom Zoom, Marshall brought European styling to Lady Linda, incorporating furnishings from Italy, fixtures from France, and artwork from Great Britain. Lady Linda, however, was not Marshall’s first concern when Katrina hit. “We were more worried about Zoom Zoom Zoom,” he acknowledges. “It was all ready to go.” As it happened, the scratched-but-intact Zoom Zoom Zoom was sent to Florida to be repainted in time for last year’s Fort Lauderdale boat show—“which was postponed a week,” Marshall notes, “when Hurricane Wilma hit.” Needless to say, as Lady Linda heads for the same show this year, everyone involved is keeping fingers tightly crossed.