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Marooned Mega-Yacht On The Move October 5, 2007

Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, In The News, Lifestyle.
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The Associated Press: Yacht Marooned After Fla. Storm to Move
The two sides finally came to an understanding in January — Halmos will have to replant the damaged seagrass at his own expense. But then they had to work out the details of the plan to extricate the boat. And then a diving company had to specially make a pump.

Finally, in mid-September, workers from a salvage company began operating a machine that uses powerful streams of water to cut into the sea bottom in front of the Legacy. A boat hundreds of yards away is using a large winch and two heavy cables to pull the Legacy into deeper water.

The work is said to be going well, though the Legacy is moving only about 10 feet per day. With a total of about 1,300 feet to be covered, the job will take several weeks.

“There’s been some red ink that last couple of years. Luckily, I have enough zeros after my name that I can absorb it,” Halmos said. NYTimes Coverage

Pictures of the Salvage

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Looking like Noah’s Ark after the flood, a sleek, 158-foot yacht driven aground by a hurricane lies just offshore, mired for most of the past two years in a dispute with the government over how to free it without doing too much damage to the seagrass.

Through it all, the boat’s owner, Peter Halmos, has stubbornly insisted on staying aboard or living close by on a cluster of houseboats so he can guard his beloved Legacy against pirates and thieves plying the calm green-and-azure waters off Key West.

A Hungarian emigre who made a fortune selling theft protection to credit-card holders, Halmos estimates he is spending more than $1 million a month maintaining the houseboats and moving the Legacy, which is finally — though slowly, very slowly — being pulled free.

“After two years, you kind of get numb to it. It used to make me physically sick,” said Halmos, who bought the boat in 1995 for $16 million.

Plastered with “No Trespassing” signs, the sailing yacht with a gleaming white bridge sits upright in less than a foot of water about two miles offshore, a tattered American flag flying above. Its mast and boom are gone, its dark-blue hull is scuffed, its wooden deck weatherbeaten.

But the hull is intact and Halmos says it will float.

Halmos, who is in his early 60s, was aboard the Legacy with six others when Hurricane Wilma struck in October 2005. Instead of heading out for the open sea, he decided to drop anchor and ride out the storm near shore.

But the anchors did not hold, and Wilma repeatedly lifted the boat and slammed it down. Everyone donned lifejackets.

“I don’t know how the boat held together,” Halmos said. “I thought, `Just end it.'”

When the storm had passed, the Legacy was aground miles away from where it had anchored, stuck in the sand in a federally protected area where sensitive varieties of seagrass provide a habitat for fish.

If Halmos were simply to drag the Legacy out, it would damage the grass and he could be hit with millions of dollars in fines.

But for months, Halmos and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were unable to come to terms on a plan to remove the Legacy.

NOAA special counsel Craig O’Connor said that there were “misunderstandings and miscommunication,” and that some of the early removal suggestions appeared too damaging to the environment.

“Our people wanted to be sure they understood what Peter was doing,” O’Connor said. He added: “Aside from the fact that Peter is a colorful person, I find him to be a person of high integrity. We could be dealing with somebody who could care less about the environment.”

The two sides finally came to an understanding in January — Halmos will have to replant the damaged seagrass at his own expense. But then they had to work out the details of the plan to extricate the boat. And then a diving company had to specially make a pump.

Finally, in mid-September, workers from a salvage company began operating a machine that uses powerful streams of water to cut into the sea bottom in front of the Legacy. A boat hundreds of yards away is using a large winch and two heavy cables to pull the Legacy into deeper water.

The work is said to be going well, though the Legacy is moving only about 10 feet per day. With a total of about 1,300 feet to be covered, the job will take several weeks.

“There’s been some red ink that last couple of years. Luckily, I have enough zeros after my name that I can absorb it,” Halmos said.

After the wreck, Halmos, his captain and two crew members stayed aboard the Legacy for six months. Later, they began staying on eight lashed-together houseboats nearby, while Halmos’ wife continues to live at the couple’s house in Palm Beach County.

“There’s lunatics who come out here and try to go aboard, and I have to come out here and tell them that I’m going to blow their heads off,” Halmos said.

But given the beauty on and around his houseboat — fish swimming near the surface, a gaggle of cormorants, seagulls and pelicans, the salty smell of the ocean mixing with the scent of sweet jasmine — it is not at all certain Halmos will leave once the Legacy has been freed.

“People who spend some time out here genuinely feel there’s a healing aspect to it,” he said. “I’m sensing there’s something meaningful here. I can’t see myself resuming the life I had onshore. I can’t even envision it.” By ADRIAN SAINZ

Comments»

1. Mega-yacht Still Marooned off Key West « Terryorisms - October 5, 2007

[…] Update Mega-Yacht on the Move […]

2. Christian Anderson - October 9, 2007

My best wishes are with Mr. Halmos. From the perspective of a liftime boater, I can understand what some may see as a obsessed man is really something many feel as a special connection to the life on the water.
Being caught in and surviving a life threatening storm can be a life altering event that brings you closer to the sea instead of chasing you away. Only those that have experianced a simular event will truly understand. It is wonderful to know that Halmos will be sailing through life with his real Legacy….proud and loved.

3. Ann Warren - October 16, 2007

I spent the Easter vacation on Big Pine Key in 2006. I saw this boat and was shocked at how big it was and how it was stuck. My friend and I overheard some old salty dogs talking at breakfast in a local resturant about how they stole some slot machines off the boat. I was surprised that someone would do something like that to a boat way out there. I hope it is free now and Mr. Halmos can use it again in the future. What a shame it was to see it just sit and waste away.

4. Underwaterbeach - December 17, 2007

In response to the above comment, Ann is confusing two different boats. The Legacy is a luxury sailing vessel, as opposed to the casino boat that was also grounded during Willima further up the keys. For one, I’m certain there were no slot machines aboard Legacy, two, there is no way in hell anyone would have ever been able to board Legacy and steal anything, Halmos has been on her since she grounded and has weapons, refer to the article in the Jan. ’07 article in Vanity Fair.

5. Seth - December 20, 2007

Quite the predicament. If anyone (Mr. Halmos) needs help, I am looking to work in the area. Engineer from NY that has experience on boats. Hope this is solved peacefully with the ship being saved!

-Seth
cabes@alum.rpi.edu

6. ProGasCasMash - December 4, 2008

I have been reading here for a while now and thought it would only be fair to register and contribute instead of being a silent reader. So – I am looking forward to be a full part of the community!

Take care!

ProGasCasMash

[IMG]http://www.hoppenrath.com/isp/avatar_e.jpg[/IMG]

7. JOHN STEELE DESMOND - September 18, 2009

I JUST SAW THE STORY ON CNN. WHY DOES THE OWNER LIVE ON DECK IN A TENT, WHEN HE COULD LIVE IN A NICE STATE ROOM ?????

8. Cruise - March 16, 2011

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon this blog and I’ve got to tell you that I have actually enjoyed reading your blog articles. I’ll be subscribing to your feed anyway and I hope you’ll post again soon. Big thanks for the helpful information.


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