Now that fall is here, Seattle-area folks will remember summer as the time some really huge yachts came to town.
Such as the 440-foot Serene, owned by a Russian vodka distributor. And the 314-foot VAVA II, owned by a Swiss/Italian biotech company boss. There was also last one to arrive, the 394-foot A, built and owned by a Russian multi-billionaire.
A drew attention because it doesn’t look like your traditional megayacht. It is sleek, but some say it resembles a submarine or a Zumwalt class stealth destroyer because of its reverse raked bow, the boxy deck structure and a pronounced tumblehome aft. It arrived in Seattle from Hawaii via Alaska and took a moorage in the city’s industrial waterfront.
Patti Payne, a columnist for the Seattle Business Journal, said A first stopped at Harbor Island in Seattle’s Elliott Bay and took on fuel. The bill, she said, was “well more than $500,000.”
Payne also reported that the owner and his wife, Andrey and Aleksandra Melnichenko, were aboard, possibly with at least two guests. The ship has accommodations for the owners and 12 guests – and a crew of 45. Andrey, 42, is a London-based financier.
A was built in Germany at a cost of $300 million – or more. There are no official numbers. She was designed by Philippe Starck and Neil Wade.
Robert Frank, a Wall Street Journal reporter, somehow won an invitation to board A with a photographer while the vessel was in Barbados. His report emphasizes, no surprise, the elegance found aboard. Find his video report on the journal’s website or watch it below.
Melnichenko ordered acres of glass and mirrors and silver leaf, a technically complex bridge and a garage for several small craft that can double as a party space. She has several swimming pools, including a massage pool on the aft deck that has lounge chairs and a table for drinks in the water.
The 2,500 square foot master stateroom has fingerprint security and its head has elaborate silver shower faucets that cost $40,000 each, Frank reported, and which match silver trim used throughout the vessel. The master, other reports suggest, also has an adjoining small and private bedroom for those moments when the owners want extreme privacy.
Security systems are redundant and sophisticated and the glass in windows reportedly is bomb proof.
A is powered by a pair of MAN RK280 diesels, each rated at 12,000 horsepower. Her top speed is reported to be 23 knots. She carries 200,000 gallons of fuel.
Many wondered how much cruising the owners would do in the Northwest, which has many good boating destinations but none capable of providing dock space or even an anchorage for a 394-foot yacht.
A did motor through the San Juan Islands after leaving Seattle, but it paused only at Lummi Island, near Bellingham, while its owners and two guests enjoyed dinner ashore at the Willows Inn. Its chef and part owner, Blaine Wetzel, is known worldwide and is recipient of a James Beard Rising Chef Award.
Then A seemed to head out to sea and south along the West Coast.
As impressive as they are, these yachts don’t measure up any more. Eclipse, which measures 533 feet, is owned by yet another Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich. It’s also said that a 550-foot yacht, now referred to as Project Azzam, is under construction.
The owners of A may yet get to play with the bigger boys. Forbes Magazine reports he is believed to be building a “larger” sailing yacht.
Cover shot: Melnichenko's A cruising Norway. (Guttorm Flatabø/Flickr Creative Commons)