You can join the billionaire set – for a single cent

 Opportunities to own what amounts to a floating city of your own don’t come around very often.
   But on 30 March, 2010, you could walk away with one of the biggest private ships ever built. And it could literally cost you a single cent as there is no minimum bid.
   The mega yacht Apoise is being sold by Dave Ritchie in an unreserved auction here in Cayman. It’s a 219.82 foot behemoth of 1838 gross tonnes that is powered by two 1850 horsepower Caterpillar diesel engines.
   For your cent, you get something that accommodates 12 guests and 19 crew over six decks. The sun-deck has 360 degree views, whilst there are numerous lounges and sunbathing areas, indoor and outdoor dining, Jacuzzi, sports bar, gym and the owner’s cabin includes a full-beam master bath and private Jacuzzi.
   Each of the five guests suites have king size berths and individual ensuite bathrooms.
   
Ambitious
   Del Gurney has been the boat manager since it emerged from the Lurssen Yacht shipyard in 2006. He says that the yacht is a true world cruiser, having been used to the fullest by current owner Dave Ritchie, former chief executive officer of Ritchie Bros. auctioneers.
   “We’ve gone places where they’ve never seen yachts, for example parts of China where they couldn’t fathom why we were there. This boat has always had an ambitious schedule.
   “We go places that require an enormous amount of research and we often don’t have anybody to ask. Oftentimes in the normal circuit there’s a whole support network of comrades and contemporaries you can rely on but not so in China, Russia, Japan, Vietnam – it’s been a real logistical challenge and from a visa standpoint it can take weeks,” says Gurney.
   Vicki Cunningham of Ritchie Bros says that it’s the first time that they have held such an auction, and the size of the market is not the biggest.
   “It’s the eighty-ninth largest yacht in the world so it’s a pretty small world we’re in. We’ve never sold anything of this size or nature before so it’s really exciting. It’s our founder selling it and it shows how much he believes in us as a company and the unreserved auction process. He told me that he believed it was the best way to market and sell a yacht and that it would get a fair market value on auction day.”
   
   Reticent
   Richard Thiel, editor-in-chief of Power and Motoryacht magazine, explains that there are less than 125 megayachts worldwide. And whilst it’s difficult to generalise as to who the secretive owners often are, why they buy yachts, and crucially how much they cost, there are certain things that can be said.
   “They’re generally-speaking people who value privacy because they want to have vacations where they can control the environment. So if they go to Martinique for example they’ve gotta wall off a compound and surround it with security people whereas if they’ve got a yacht they can just park out at some cove and they’re pretty safe and pretty isolated.
   “The upshot of that is that the identity of the people who own these yachts is not known – they generally protect themselves pretty carefully,” he muses.
   Names including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, football club owner Roman Abramovich and their ilk wouldn’t, however, be too far off the mark for these private islands with a range of 5,000 miles or more. These are people who are so rich they are virtually above any recession.
   So get that one cent polished up – all this could be yours.
   Oh, and don’t forget the small matter of a two million dollar deposit payable to join the auction in the first place. We probably should have mentioned that bit earlier.
    
   (SIDEBAR)
   A mega-yacht is defined by Power & Motoryacht magazine as being a powered boat over a hundred foot in length. The Apoise, at 219.82 feet, is in the top 90 biggest ever built.
   The crown however goes to The Dubai, which debuts in the top 100 in top spot, measuring 531.5 feet. However, Roman Abramovich has a yacht in production that is to be between 533 and 557 feet, which is rather aptly entitled Eclipse.
   Famous mega yachts include the Christina O – once owned by Aristotle Onassis. All this luxury however is no guarantee of longevity. Famously, Czech-born pension thief Robert Maxwell fell to his death from his yacht, Lady Ghislane, whilst cruising off the Canary Islands.

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