By Colin Campbell, August 20, 2013, Seattle Times
One of the biggest yachts in the world is moored in Elliott Bay.
The Serene, a $330 million, 440-foot private yacht belonging to a wealthy Russian vodka distributor, pulled into Seattle’s Pier 90 over the weekend, right by the Interbay neighborhood.
The yacht’s owner, Yuri Scheffler, controls SPI Group, which distributes Stolichnaya vodka internationally.
The 2-year-old yacht, made in Italy by Fincantieri, has a 52-person crew and has been in Vancouver, B.C., for the past few months. The Serene flies the flag of the Grand Cayman Islands and illuminates the water with bright-green lighting at night. This is its first time in Seattle, and as the ninth-largest privately owned yacht in the world,according to Boat International magazine, it is likely the biggest one ever to enter Seattle’s waters.
How big? We’re talking massive.
The Serene has two helicopter-landing platforms and a hangar, along with a storage area for a submarine that can dive to 300 feet. It’s longer than a football field and has more than 48,000 square feet of covered space on its seven decks.
The Serene was a finalist in last year’s World Superyacht Awards, and a description on CharterWorld.com called it a “floating palace” with few equals in the world.
The yacht accommodates 24 guests in its 12 staterooms. It has large indoor and outdoor swimming pools, several hot tubs, a steam room and a JetStream exercise pool.
Elevators and a spiral staircase link the seven decks. The ship also features children’s playrooms, where they can scale a climbing wall, slide down from deck to deck, or even play video games. A “Nemo” room gives guests a peek under the sea through a thick glass panel. And to top it all off, the Serene has an outdoor cinema.
It’s unclear how long the yacht will be in Seattle, but the Northwest Marine Trade Association estimates that for every 30 days it’s here, it will spend roughly $2.7 million on repairs and other services — roughly $90,000 a day.
But that economic impact will probably be capped at $5.4 million, said Peter Schrappen, the association’s director of government affairs. After two months, the state levies a heavy tax on out-of-state yachts, which, he says, drives them away and deprives local businesses of money owners of these types of boats can spend.
He called the Serene a floating economic-stimulus package that’s being turned away because of the tax, 10 percent on the value of recreational boats — more than $30 million for the Serene — after 60 days in port, more or less forcing vessels to leave after that time is up.
A Marine Tourism Bill the association is trying to pass would extend that period to 180 days, to make Seattle’s ports more competitive with those in British Columbia, where a boat can moor year-round tax free. But that hasn’t passed, so Schrappen expects the Serene to be on its way out sometime in the next 60 days.
“Sixty days — you can take that to the bank,” he said. “Well, I guess you can’t take that to the bank. They won’t be spending their money here” for much longer.