Have You Seen That Mega Yacht Off The Hook?

July 9, 2017
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A passing sailboat gets a closer look on Sunday afternoon at Le Grand Bleu, a 370-foot yacht currently anchored between NWS Earle and the tip of Sandy Hook. Photo by Jay Cook

By Jay Cook |

RARITAN BAY – One of the most lavish and enormous yachts in the world has been enjoying a summer vacation in New York and New Jersey waters.

An approximately 370-foot-long yacht named Le Grand Bleu has been anchored between the tip of Sandy Hook and the U.S. Naval Weapons Station Earle’s munitions pier in Leonardo for almost two weeks now, and is showing no signs of going anywhere.

The mega yacht made headlines in June when tourists and residents around Liberty State Park complained about obstructed views of the Statue of Liberty when the vessel was parked a few hundred feet away from the New Jersey state park.

According to vessel tracking data, the yacht reached its location between the two local New Jersey nautical landmarks on June 19, where it has attracted significant attention.

“To be honest, they might just be going about their business and found a place outside the restricted zone that they’re able to anchor at,” said Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier, a spokesperson with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Manhattan outpost.

Le Grand Bleu

Strohmaier said the U.S. Coast Guard received some concerned calls when the vessel was just outside of New York City, but has fielded none of those same calls since it moved to its new location.

The boat rests in the channel heading out towards the Raritan Bay and coming into the Shrewsbury River between the two federally-operated properties.

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Daphne Yun, a spokeswoman with Gateway National Recreation Area, said there are no concerns on Sandy Hook’s end about where the yacht is.

“He’s not in our waters, as far as I know,” Yun said.

The same goes for Earle, a major U.S. Navy weapons and munitions station, which operates a nearly three-mile-long pier extending from the shoreline into the water.

“From our perspective, as long as they’re outside of our security zone, it’s like any other normal maritime traffic in that area,” said spokesperson Bill Addison.

Addison said there is a nearly half-mile, off-limits security zone surrounding the pier on all sides, which is marked by buoys surrounding the installation, located on GPS software and on all maps provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The yacht is reportedly owned by Russian-American oil businessman Eugene Schvidler, and was given to him by Roman Abramovich, current owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club. The boat was originally owned by American tech businessman John McCaw, who then sold it to Abramovich.

According to the tracking data, Le Grand Bleu sails under the Bahamian flag. It’s last port stop came in April in Port Everglades, Florida.

In addition to its massive size, the yacht also boasts a number of different watercraft secured on board. According to magazine Boat International, a nearly 72-foot Dubois sailing yacht named Bellatrix and an approximately 69-foot Sunseeker motor yacht are resting on the ship.

Le Grand Bleu has been the center of attention recently for boaters and commuters alike. This past weekend, about 20 different craft from personal boats to jet skiers, circled the yacht to take pictures of the nautical marvel within a 15-minute period.

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“If they were in a private marina, that would be a different story,” Strohmaier said, about boats buzzing around, “but that just goes with the territory of where they are at.”

Strohmaier did say that boaters should respect their distance around the yacht, as well as its privacy.

He continued to say that boaters should also not impede the boats travels or “allowable rights” on the water either. If they do, “that’s an issue,” he said.

This article was first published in the July 6-13, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

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