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A ‘cursed’ super yacht, abandoned in Cape Town harbour for 20 years, is going on auction

Business Insider SA

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)
  • A super yacht built in 1976 for American millionaire Roy Carver arrived in Cape Town around 20 years ago.
  • Since its construction, the Bella T has been marred in controversy, never actually making it to Carver and instead spending half its time in Malaysia where it was owned by the Sultan of Sabah.
  • It's time in Table Bay Harbour has been just as tumultuous, the centre of numerous legal disputes and decades of neglect.
  • The super yacht now heads to auction in March, as ordered by the Western Cape High Court in a judicial arrest case.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A super yacht built in 1976 for a famous American industrialist arrived in Cape Town 20 years ago. After years of neglect, it's finally heading to a court-ordered auction.

Designed by renowned naval architects, Arthur de Fever and Doug Sharp, in the 1970s, the bland-looking superyacht near Sturrock Dock in Cape Town has lived a troubled and colourful life.

The vessel was originally designed and built for Roy Carver, an American millionaire and philanthropist who made his money in the business of retreading tires. In 1973, Carver’s firm earned a spot in Fortune's top 1,000 companies.

See also | Cape Town’s ‘cursed’ superyacht has been sold – and will sail again, says new owner

Carver enlisted boatbuilders Maritima de Axpe in Bilbao, Spain, to construct a yacht based on the De Fever and Sharp's design. But the shipyard's progress was far too slow for Carver, who famously said in 1975 that he didn't worry about money as much as he did about time.

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)

The super yacht, named LAC III after Carver's mother’s initials, never made it to the American businessman. Frustrated by delays, Carver had a new yacht, based on the same design, built by Feadship De Vries in the Netherlands. This vessel, LAC II, was completed 18 months before her sistership in Spain.

Carver would only get enjoy LAC II for six years, before dying of a heart attack in 1981, at 71 years of age in Marbella, Spain. LAC II would come to be known as Velaria. This super yacht, after sailing the world and being kept in pristine condition, is currently valued at €15,000,000 (around R269 million).

LAC III was eventually sold to the Sultan of Sabah in Malaysia and renamed Puteri Sabah II. It was then passed to another Malaysian owner as Puteri Sipada, according to Superyacht Times.

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)

The vessel, by that time known as Sipadan Princess, was then purchased by American Earl Romans in 1999 and renamed Summit One. It was brought to South Africa, from Malaysia, to undergo an extensive refit by local shipbuilders and repairers Farocean Marine, starting in 2001. This refit included lengthening the vessel by 5 metres.

But the refit soon ran into problems. Farocean, which had already begun work on Summit One, now-known as Bella T, alleged that Romans had failed to make necessary payments. According to documents from South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal, it's alleged that Romans would settle his outstanding account with Farocean only to default on payments a while later. This happened multiple times and legal troubles effectively halted the refit and repair project in 2003.

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)

A document seen by Business Insider South Africa claims that Bella T – known as "Project 146" during its repair – was sold to a company in Dubai in 2008. Hurt by the global recession, the project vessel was then passed onto Nautic Africa and, finally, to Europa Shipping around five years ago.

Unable to shake the endless legal drama which haunted it for the past two decades, Bella T was ordered to public auction by the Western Cape High Court in the matter of Rapaport Flagship Limited, the applicant, and Europa Shipping Capital SA, the respondent, in November.

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)

Solution Strategists, specialist in vessel sales, will handle the auction of Bella T on 1 March 2022 to finalise the judicial arrest case. Bella T, and four containers full of parts and spares, will be auctioned. The applicant in the dispute has a claim against the vessel amounting to €835,000 (around R15 million), according to court documents seen by Business Insider SA.

Stripped backed to bare steel, with its engine components, propellers, interior fittings, and other parts in containers, the complete refitting of the 45-metre Bella T is expected to cost around R37.7 million, according to an estimate seen by Business Insider SA.

superyacht auction cape town
Bella T superyacht in Cape Town (Image supplied)

Despite being neglected for around 20 years, Bella T, with its steel hull, aluminium superstructure, and with twin Caterpillar D348 TA, V12 4 stroke engines, was found to be in "very good condition" according to the Maritime Bureau of Africa.

"The same can be said of the aluminium construction, very good condition without compromises. The Engine room is very neat, bilges well epoxied, and painted," noted the Maritime Bureau of Africa's valuation of Bella T in June 2020.

"The exterior of the vessel steel is also epoxy coated, shows some weathering, and will need reapplication soon. Being semi complete she still needs some structure to be fully completed."

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