It was love at first sight, really.
From the moment I saw M/Y CHARADE moored near my home in the Bahamas I was struck by the hallmark architecture and symmetrical lines that understandably earned this classic 154-foot Feadship world renown when she was built in 1990 as the first Feadship to have a wheel-less wheelhouse.
She’s well-cruised and well-known; her first owners took her to Belize, where she was the first yacht over 100 feet to visit and to the Pacific where she caught the attention of her second owner, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. Not only did he take her up the Amazon River and around the world twice, she, like many yachts of her stature, enjoyed a global roster of guests who undoubtedly shared my fascination and awe. She’s an amazing and storied work of art with a pedigree as unique as her lines.
And so, when the opportunity to purchase CHARADE decades later from then-owner, British entrepreneur Joe Lewis, I knew that life had come full circle and the yacht I had admired so was to be my destiny.
While my team began assessing the mechanicals, Dee Dee Taylor Eustace of Taylor Hannah Architect got to work assessing the parameters of a high performance interior while staying true to CHARADE‘S original glory. No sense sticking a veneer over some old bones.
After all, I love preserving the classics. They are a passion of mine that began with the old wooden racing boats that skimmed the waters of Healey Lake in front of my childhood summer cottage in northern Ontario. This fascination led to me purchase and restore a small fleet of historic Canadian wooden boats – from record setters like Miss Canada III and IV, to vintage cruisers like Rambler – that I keep on Lake Muskoka. In the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s Muskoka was an important wooden boat-building centre and there remains a strong tradition of fixing up the old boats and keeping them in boathouses for the summer. We really use our woodies. Through one of my businesses, BG Signature, I operate a pair of modern boats for charter out of Miami, but nothing like the complexity and character of this Feadship.
Conserving history and doing a refit requires equal appreciation of both the past and future. For the past, we reached out to some of Paul Allen’s former crew for their ideas and inspiration. With our design team, we imagined how we might build this yacht today. Our visions flowed – perhaps overflowed would be more precise. Our original three-month project turned into a year-long odyssey that, now, with crisp fall leaves gathering at our door, finds us breathless, proud and awed by what has emerged.
Among the changes is a more streamlined, ergonomic layout throughout, a VIP suite on the main deck as a sixth stateroom, a large wine display in the saloon, state-of-the-art electronics and a spectacular outdoor aft deck theatre among the things we think will make her a great charter yacht.
Not only are we privileged to have been entrusted with this yacht’s future, we are honored to share her glorious return to the world as M/Y BG CHARADE.