The article was written by Jack Mahoney, Director of Boathouse Auctions.
The past two years have seen unprecedented demand for superyachts, with shipyards and brokerage firms securing record sales. Builders have signed so many contracts that the majority have full order books through 2026. Brokerage firms, meanwhile, sold 77 percent more yachts in 2021 than in 2020, according to VesselsValue, which tracks commercial-shipping and yachting data. Demand hasn’t cooled off this year, either, for builders or brokers.
This is all great news, of course. It reflects the soaring number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and the increasing awareness of how superyachts allow escaping crowds for quality time with family and friends. However, it also presents problems. Buyers don’t necessarily want to wait five years for a yacht to start construction—or waiting seven to eight years to take delivery. Additionally, since brokerage inventory is lower, fewer buyers find what ticks all the boxes.
There is a solution, however. A partially constructed, six-stateroom project from a renowned American superyacht builder is in Mississippi, seeking a buyer. She’s a 168-foot Trinity Tri-Deck superyacht, about 40 percent complete and hitting the auction block in November. Boathouse Auctions, a turnkey, online yacht-auction platform connecting prequalified buyers with motivated sellers, is selling her. Several factors, ranging from her pedigree to her cost to complete, make this a very attractive opportunity.
TRINITY’S HISTORY AND LINEAGE
Trinity Yachts began in 1988 as the luxury-yacht division of a commercial and military shipyard. John Dane III and William S. “Billy” Smith, employees of that yard, recognized the opportunity to establish a high-quality U.S. yacht builder. Operations originated in the commercial and military company’s New Orleans facility, attracting American clientele. Dane, Smith, and Felix Sabates, a businessman and yacht enthusiast, acquired the yachting division in 2000, growing its international reputation.
It continued growing, even with Hurricane Katrina severely damaging Trinity’s only location at the time, the New Orleans shipyard, in 2005. To maintain operations, the owners purchased a site in Gulfport, Mississippi that Dane previously oversaw. The New Orleans facility reopened a year later, with the Gulfport shipyard continuing to handle orders.
The owner-management approach to superyachts kept sales steady. Employee head count blossomed, from 200 in 2000 to 1,000 eight years later. Trinity Yachts was so successful, in fact, that upwards of 20 yachts were on its order books in early 2008. By 2009, it had become the largest U.S. superyacht builder, delivering up to eight yachts annually that averaged 164 feet. It won numerous awards for them, too.
Unfortunately, when the global-financial crisis hit, superyacht buyers retreated rapidly from the market and cancelled construction contracts. In 2015 Trinity Yachts’ owners sold the company to a large offshore operator. The new ownership soon decided that yachting wasn’t core to its operations, though. It shut down yacht building in 2017. In its 27 years of existence, Trinity had delivered more than 50 yachts in aluminum and steel to 254 feet. Its pedigree remained intact, even after the business closure. Trinity deliveries retain strong value today on the brokerage market, since they’re associated with seaworthiness, speed, superior engineering, and exquisite interiors.
TRINITY TRI-DECK AMENITY ADVANTAGES
Despite the 2015 sale, Dane retained ownership of two projects that ceased construction during the recession. The most complete, hull T-056, is being auctioned by Boathouse Auctions with Michael Joyce, the central listing agent from Hargrave Yacht Brokerage. Kept in secure storage over the years, she’s undergone regular checks, with a thorough survey this past August. The stage of construction represents an ideal combination of saving significant time and still being able to fully personalize the yacht.
For instance, the Trinity Tri-Deck, complying with ABS classification, has a 95-percent complete aluminum hull and superstructure. Some modifications won’t detrimentally impact time to complete. The Trinity Design Team also engineered her for a top speed of 23 knots with a Bahamas-friendly draft of less than eight feet.
Since the hull and superstructure account for just 40 percent of the yacht, enormous interior and alfresco customization is possible. Traditionally, a project like the Trinity Tri-Deck is a six-stateroom superyacht, so she affords excellent spaces accordingly. The master suite can spread out across the full beam forward on the main deck, benefitting from some of the best views onboard. Four guest cabins can go below decks, with a combination of king berths and twins with Pullmans. The final stateroom, a VIP, can treat guests like royalty on the bridge deck.
Regardless of where staterooms sit or how many the buyer ultimately chooses, an elevator connects all levels. This way, too, the owners and guests can access the main salon, bridge-deck salon (perfect for a bar and games table), and the sun deck comfortably.
Crew areas are generous, too. Placing the galley on the main deck allows good workspace, plus direct service to the formal dining area and outdoor seating aft. The captain can have direct access as well, from the wheelhouse to a bridge-deck cabin. Two single crew cabins sharing a head and two bunk cabins with private heads easily flank the crew mess below decks. Finally, the engineer will appreciate having a private en suite cabin aft of the engine room.
The Trinity Tri-Deck auction includes not just the partially completed structure, but also extensive parts and machinery. For example, the 16-cylinder MTU diesel engines are under warranty that begins when the yacht is completed. ZF transmissions, Northern Lights generators, Quantum stabilizers, and other top-name equipment are also included. Note that the opening bid of $1.5 million is less than that of the cost of just the engines and transmissions.
Note, too, that the surveyor’s well-organized, detailed report is part of the auction, as are project costs to date and the estimated cost to complete the yacht. The completion estimate of $25 million is based on bids from qualified international shipyards in the United States, Greece, and Turkey. Consider that the current price for new superyachts in this size range with similar fit and finish, engines, and equipment from respected builders is significantly higher.
Understandably, buyers commonly express concern about how to ensure a yacht like this gets finished. The original Trinity Yachts designers and engineers will help complete the remaining drawings, since they want to see the project—and buyer—succeed. They’ll do this regardless of which shipyard the winning bidder selects, too. Additionally, they and John Dane can provide advice and suggestions for completion.
The online auction begins on November 11. Bidding remains open through November 14. The Trinity Tri-Deck can remain in Gulfport through November 30, 2023 to make sufficient arrangements for completion.
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