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Mega-yacht Still Marooned off Key West May 9, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Life, Lifestyle, News.

Palm Beach tycoon’s mega-yacht still marooned off Key West
Palm Beach tycoon Peter Halmos has spent $1 million to gently free his mega-yacht from a federal marine sanctuary off Key West.

But the effort has failed. With another hurricane season beginning June 1, he may have no choice but to drag the vessel out.

The 158-foot Legacy, once one of the five largest sailing ketches in the world, is mired in sand and mud, in ankle-deep turquoise water 3 miles away from the docks at Mallory Square, exactly where she was thrown by Hurricane Wilma a year and a half ago.

Halmos, 63, and seven crew members nearly lost their lives on Oct. 23, 2005, when Wilma tossed his ship “like a leaf in 25-foot waves” a mile deep into the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, 200,000 acres of some of the most pristine and protected property in the federal government’s control.

Since then he has battled pirates, pesky sightseers and bureaucrats while trying to free the $30 million ship.

In February, he finally reached an agreement with the government to begin salvage operations. The plan was to use a new technique: build a 1,000-foot-long, 50-foot-wide canvas wall around the vessel, fill it with water, then float her out. But that effort – which cost $20,000 a day for two months – failed, Halmos says.

“Floating her out was really elegant. There’s nothing elegant about dragging her out.”

Halmos says he’s been reluctant to use traditional salvage methods, which involve large barges and cranes, because that might tear up the fragile ecosystem. His new plan is to spin Legacy so she is facing in the same direction that she entered the preserve, then pull her out.

With another hurricane season beginning June 1, Halmos is battling the clock as well as the elements. The luxury vessel is now a majestic mess. Legacy bears scars on her hull from being hurled into the preserve. Her twin 160-foot masts are gone and the sun-bleached teak deck is littered with droppings from hundreds of birds who have made Legacy home.

Halmos says he hopes to begin the new process within two weeks.

In the meantime, the man who once worked in corporate boardrooms now lives as an Aquaman, residing in his own aquatic village, a flotilla of houseboats and other vessels lashed together and anchored in the ocean about a mile from Legacy. He, Captain Ed Collins and several crew members have been living there for 18 months.

He hopes to have Legacy floating by June.

“I’ve been looking forward to that so much for so long that I’m not sure I can even get my head that far in the future,” he says. “I just want to see her moving.”

When that day comes, Legacy will be loaded onto another ship and taken to a shipyard in Italy for an estimated $16 million worth of repairs that could take up to two years to complete. Halmos bought Legacy for $16 million in 1995. It would cost $30 million to build her today.

Asked whether he would remain in his aquatic village after Legacy is free, Halmos says, “I’m kind of leaning that way. I sure do like it here.”

In an earlier interview, he said he had little desire to return to his Palm Beach mansion.

“I know it sounds like a guy who’s been on an island too long talking to coconut heads, but there’s a connectivity here. I just find it peaceful.”

Here is an earlier narrative on this struggle.

Update: Time Running Out for Stuck Mega-Yacht

Update Mega-Yacht on the Move

Update: Pictures of the Salvage

Update: CNN Video coverage


1. jimmy - July 11, 2007

its too bad that your boat is stuck.you should not be fined for something you had no controll over.Im a carpenter and electrician in texas but it sounds like you have the good life .Well when you get your boat out.But it will all be behind you one day and Im sure youll be able to look back and laugh.Pluss you got to live out in a beautiful place.If you need a good helper (haha) Jimmy

2. Bobbie - July 11, 2007

I have a suggestion why not try to air lift the boat with a couple of Erikson Air Cranes Helios. This should not effect the underlying grass or sand. Air Cranes are used alot in Heavy Lefting and Building of Skyscrappers.

someone that had to point out the obvious - August 30, 2009

ok there genius…Well for starters, the water is only ankle deep also, what do you think crane barges that could lift something that has a displacement of a vessel that size would draw themselves? That simply wouldn’t work….only with the legos you play with would something like that work…

3. Phillip - July 11, 2007

I’d try dynomite.

4. Thomas - July 11, 2007

I was just discussing this with a co-worker today. What a fascinating story!!! I am a fellow Hungarian (Jo Napot!!!), and I just had the same conclusion as Bobbie, why not use heavy lift helicoptors? I am not sure if the hull is sound, or evn if you can structurally lift a yacht and have all the forces safely applied? I would think that if you would use a special system of evenly placed straps which pass under the hull and connect to an I-Beam assembly, and then connect that to a hoist point so the stress is evenly distributed. There are helicopters that are designed now to live 10-15 tons. How much can this thing weigh? I am trying to do some research into getting a curb weight on this puppy, but it is a thought?

5. Eddie Smuda - July 13, 2007

I think what everyone fails to realize is that it does not matter how much money Mr Halmos has, this entire situation is breaking his heart. His love for that ship and his crew is evident in all the articles I have read. I wish the best for Mr Halmos and his crew. I am in Key West right now, a retire Air Force MSgt I am looking out the front window of my RV on Sigsby Naval Base and I can see the beautiful boat everyday. I would love to meet Mr Halmos or any of his crew. Lets keep our fingers crossed for the Halmos Team and wish the best for them all.

6. Roland Creaser - July 16, 2007

This situation shows how in-tolerant the government cann be. Shit happens to any & all of us at someplace in time. His ability to stick with the problem at hand is amazing, especially at his age and financial ability to just move on and leave the yatch where it is. To meet this man would be a pleasure. To be able to pick his mind about many many items of our world, where ever that would take one..

7. Jason - July 18, 2007


Wow, how can so many people feel remorseful for this guy? Halmos placed the lives of his crew in jeopardy when he made them stay on board to ride out a Category 5 Hurricane. Halmos claims that no port from Key West to Georgia could accommodate his yacht, when there are in fact two between Miami and West Palm Beach. The projected storm track for Wilma remained the same for nearly seven days. We all knew where the storm was headed. There was plenty of opportunity to relocate the vessel away from the path of the storm. Even if there was insufficient to relocate the vessel, Halmos never should have asked or ‘required’ his crew to stay aboard and risk their lives to save his possessions. It’s not as much a matter of what happened to his mega-toy as much as it is what could have happened to those seven souls aboard.

I keep reading about the government’s intolerance with Halmos. Why wouldn’t they be upset? Of the four major hurricanes in 2004 and Wilma that exited Florida over my home in Martin County, how many other mega-yachts are still stranded? There are none. There were many yachts tossed around in Palm Beach County in 2004. Some were pushed into their docks and partially sunk; some pushed aground and had be raised and recovered. But they all were in protected waters in the intracoastal. This is an area with up to 35′ depth just inside the Lake Worth Inlet that this vessel has passed through in prior years to have repair work in a local ship yard. Halmos had options that he chose to ignore, just like the safety of his crew.

Halmos’s stuff means more to him than people. According to his own tale of accounts, his mega-toy means more to him that his wife who ‘rarely visits’ his floating armada.

The only shame here is that the captain didn’t have the courtesy to let the crew go home while he went down with the ship.

8. Matt - July 30, 2007

Supposedly he’s getting fined $2 million dollars if the boat isn’t off by October 1st. This guy should do a world wide contest for ideas of how to get his boat out of there… if an idea works…give $100,000 prize. I think the URL http://www.savemysailboat.com is still open!

9. craig - August 23, 2007

serves you right you rich bastard. Thats a good use of 30 million dollars, that much money could help thousands of people around the world ,but I guess every billionares got to have a 158-foot boat. Good luck draging that bitch out.

wyatt - December 7, 2011

hey the money he put into saving this boat has gone into the pockets of men and women who feed their families, he is creating jobs and helping a suffering economy. Also the fact that he hasn’t abandoned it there and let the government deal with it is admirable. He is a man dealing with his own problem instead of leaning on others, i commend him and wish him luck.

10. Vincenzo - September 1, 2007

How much does a 158′ boat weigh ? Depending on construction I would guess upwards of 200 tons. But certainly no less than 100 tons so airlifting is impossible. At least he’s trying to protect the environment as much as possible whilst still managing to save “his baby” . If it were me I would send a crew in with chainsaws or torches – gut as much of the finery out of it as possible than chop the hull into small easily removed pieces (not sure if she’s FRP or aluminum) There’s a couple of nice 170 foot schooners available in turkey for under $6 mill . I’d buy one of those to tide me over whilst my new dream yacht was being constructed

11. dad - September 2, 2007

craig, what a tool

12. B.T.C - September 2, 2007

I was on that boat that horrible night. I will never forget it, though I try. I do feel that we should of been off it. If there is a mandatory evacuation of the keys and we just dropped anchor and thought nothing of it. There is no price on life. The more I think of it the more I cant believe we were out there. I thought we were all dead foreshore! 8 hours of hell! Just glad to be alive and thankful everyday! I agree with Capt Bly! Thats why mega yachts go north or over to Europe to get away from hurricanes that have punished them shores for thousands of years! I guess it was my job, and a long swim to shore to quit. Then what? Job less in America!

13. B.T.C - September 2, 2007

B.T.C crabtree.brett@gmail.com let me know what u think.

14. Joe Jusino - September 6, 2007

I wish for the best for Mr. Halmos and his crew.

15. Jay - September 13, 2007

Stuff happens, people make mistakes; people are lucky to walk away alive. The ship might have been safer at sea, but it is a tough decision to head out when a big hurricane is coming at you. I’m glad I didn’t have this set of problems. Hope you get her off without any more problems. I’m sure living out there on the flats has been incredible!

16. joe kaminski - September 17, 2007

Im an engineer. Ill get that boat out of there for 1 million plus expenses. Expenses not to exceed 2 mill.. and I wont harm the ecosystem Gauranteed.

17. MR SMARTY PANTS - November 14, 2007

Hey Mr Pete, you need to call that outfit in Rotterdam that raised the
Kursk submarine. To these experts, freeing your boat will be
probably a relatively simple procedure, even taking in to account
environmental impact. I think the outfit is called mamoet international
and smit salvage. Good luck Mr Pete, you will prevail.

18. Dave in Florida - December 13, 2007

I’m really fascinated by this story! I live in Florida and see nice boats all the time. I’m absolutely sure this boat was insured so…he’s going to have the boat repaired back to new. Sure he’s probably got billions of dollars….but what I would do is sell this story to Hollywood to make a killer movie! Just think it’d be like “Perfect Storm meets that Tom Hanks stuck on a Island!” Mrs. Hamos could easily make out like a bandit with this story! Just think about it…. come out with the movie then park this at a dock and charge $20 bucks per person to check it out in person! I’d pay that!

19. Marooned Mega-Yacht On The Move « Terryorisms - December 29, 2007

[…] Pictures of the Salvage […]

20. Brett Davison - February 11, 2008

Regardless of how much money you have or have not, The guy had a major problem and luckily for him he has the bucks behind him to resolve it.
There are not many people with the tenacity to keep going in a situation such as this and those that own boats know just how much they get in your blood!
Good Luck from the land down under… (Australia)

21. Steve - February 21, 2008

I’m a Paramedic/inventor. My wife and I are coming down to Key West for our semi-annual dive trip. Your problem has intrigued me…. I love a challenge….. I believe I may have a solution to your difficulties…… you may if you choose contact me via my work email and we can discuss your dilemma….. There’s a technique I use in EMS extrication which may be of value to you…..

22. Adam - April 8, 2008

hahaha richass got his boat stuck 🙂

23. Brian Bell - April 16, 2008

Sounds like a job for Industrial EMS lift bags paired with harnesses.

You know, that just might work, Steve.

It might take quite a few of them, and I would worry about stability, but it should work.


24. Ed Sjolin - March 25, 2012

Nothing like a bunch of jealous losers. I’ve boated all over the Keys and the two things you don’t want to do !. molest Key deer 2. muck up the sea-grass. Holmos seems like a decent guy who took an idea and worked it into a fortune. The opportunity is there for all you envious, lazy Democrats.

Andrew Giancontieri - November 3, 2012

Long enough rope the right tide it can be removed!

25. Insurance and cruising... - Page 3 - SailNet Community - April 24, 2013

[…] to take care of that ourselves. And how would you like to be dealing with this without insurance: Mega-yacht Still Marooned off Key West | Terryorisms That boat has reduced a multimillionaire to sleeping on a floating barge and years (and nearly a […]

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