One of the core business principles of a Northeast real estate developer says "Start with a vision of where you want to end up and keep sharpening your focus as you progress. If you can't see where you're going, you'll never get there." The developer also happens to be the owner of a new 100-foot motoryacht, King Baby, from Hargrave Custom Yachts, so you can guess that he was the sort of buyer who knew what he wanted in a yacht, but wasn't hesitant about making a few changes along the way. (In the interest of full disclosure, I worked with Jack Hargrave, whose design office was the precursor to Hargrave Custom Yachts.)
As a developer and builder himself, the owner of King Baby is fully aware of the challenges that change orders can present to a boatbuilder. He also knew that not every detail can be envisioned before construction begins, so sensible enhancements along the way, done in moderation and with cooperation and understanding among the parties, can create a better result in the end. Referring to Michael Joyce and the staff at Hargrave, most of whom he knew by name, the owner told me, "We really put them to the test. They understand patience and don't know the meaning of the word 'no.'"
King Baby's owner inherited his love of boats and boating from his father, a World War II Navy veteran and self-made businessman, and has passed his passion for the sport along to his own family. They started with open speedboats, including a Cigarette they entered in poker runs, and graduated to a Sunseeker 68 as the family grew. Their enjoyment of that boat also expanded to include a stint living aboard part-time, which proved to be a valuable learning experience as they planned the Hargrave.
The family wanted a larger yacht for the comfort and all-weather capability it would provide, and the owner was pleased to find that a custom build could deliver the extra headroom his personal height dictated. That said, they wanted to retain the "younger feel" of their earlier boats, something that had a bit of European flair mixed with a heavy dose of classic rock 'n' roll. Thus King Baby evolved into a Hargrave unlike any other, although everyone involved seems to give credit to an earlier Hargrave motoryacht, Cocktails, and its interior designer, Jeff Howard of the Howard Dearmas Group, for inspiration.
The owner and his family were heavily involved in the development of both the layout and décor. And the owner's longtime friend, Mitchell Binder, custom jeweller to rock stars, lent a big hand not only in accessorizing the yacht, but in supplying the yacht's name and logo as well. Binder often joins his friend as he cruises, and sometimes he brings along a celebrity client or two for the ride. The owner also entertains his own clients aboard. At the christening of this King Baby, the eclectic mix of invited guests created a scene as unique as Binder's bling. The yacht is filled with autographed memorabilia picturing rock legends, and knowing that legends in the making have also enjoyed time aboard raises the interest level.
The many black-and-white photos adorning the bulkheads throughout the yacht, most autographed limited editions from Morrison Hotel Gallery, provide a walk-through history of rock that features the giants of the genre. In the main salon are the Rolling Stones, photographed in England in 1968, and in the VIP head are Mötley Crüe, having a bubble bath in 1986. The starboard guest stateroom features Bruce Springsteen, once in Chicago in 1977, and again with his guitar in 1991. Other images include Jim Morrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Alice Cooper, Madonna, Robert Plant, Debbie Harry in a Popeye T-shirt, and Keith Richards clutching a bottle of Jack Daniels.
With so much input and so many players, designers Shelley DiCondina and Meredith Mack of Yacht Interiors by Shelley did a masterful job of pulling it all together into a tasteful and coherent marble-and-cherry package that is, as the owner puts it, "my getaway." Also prominent in King Baby's décor are accessories crafted by Binder just for the yacht. Some will eventually make it to the studio's catalog, others will not, but all are originals in every sense of the word. The owner is clear on the point that one's vocation need not define his person or his lifestyle away from work, and he enjoys an occasional break, as far as possible from the buttoned-down and sometimes staid world of real estate. Cruising or simply relaxing aboard King Baby with his family provides that break in spades.
More than many yachts, the layout of King Baby is a reflection of the owner's lifestyle aboard. The crew is accommodated aft, with the entire forward portion of the hull given over to guests. There are two guest staterooms immediately forward of the engineroom, one with twin berths and one with a queen. At the bow is a VIP stateroom, and amidships is the master stateroom with a king berth, twin closets and a full-beam his-and-hers head.
By locating the master stateroom belowdecks, the forward end of the main deckhouse is given over to a large country kitchen-style galley that is the hub of family life aboard. Abaft the raised pilothouse, there's also a formal dining area adjacent to the spacious salon and bar.
For all the attention focused on the interior, however, that's not where the owner's heart lies. "I'm all about the outdoor space," he told me, and that's easy to see as you walk around the yacht. There's a sunpad forward on the main deck, and aft, shaded by the upper deck, there's a table, chairs, and a settee, for alfresco dining or relaxation. Twin stairs lead down to an oversized swim platform, convenient for watersports utilizing the RIB tender and the PWC, that are stowed on the upper deck.
The upper deck, almost entirely in the shade of a fixed hardtop, includes helm chairs for two and companion seating for two more at the forward end, a spacious dinette to port, a complete bar to starboard, and a whirlpool spa aft. The pilothouse also has companion seating for up to five guests.
While paying tribute to rock legends of the past, King Baby maintains a busy schedule with the owner, his family, and their guests. Among the latter occasionally are rock stars of today, so keep an eye out should you spot King Baby at a dock or anchorage. She spent time in the Abacos this spring, and was in the Northeast for the summer. She's also available for charter through Hargrave's charter division.
Hargrave Custom Yachts, (954) 463-0555; www.hargrave.org
The King Baby Connection It's more than rock 'n' roll, but he likes it.
The late '60s were special times for those of us fortunate enough to survive them. I was living a block off Venice Beach, epicenter of the California counterculture experience. The hard-rock strains of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix filled the air, along with other sensory delights. Bikers, outlaw and otherwise, filled the streets. Aspiring artisans of every ilk occupied little shops facing the Pacific Ocean, and among them was a young jeweler who handcrafted a gold ring that I treasure to this day. Too soon, though, Janis and Jimi were gone. Also gone was the uneasy alliance between the rockers and the bikers, which came to a disastrous end as the Hells Angels security guards wreaked destruction and death during the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont. Nevertheless, Southern California retained its aura as a haven for those seeking to escape society's norms, whatever their pursuit. Among them, a young man, Mitchell Binder, began creating unique pieces of jewelry and soon established a bold style that found favor among both the rockers and the bikers. Santa Monica's King Baby Studio was born, and Binder's wearable art quickly achieved cult status.
On the other coast, another young man facing the looming reality of adulthood explored options for his own future. Along the way, he met Binder and the two formed a friendship that long outlived his own brief flirtation with a career in custom jewelry. He eventually returned home and went on to considerable success as a buttoned-down northeast real estate developer, but he remained a close personal friend of Binder's as well as a fan and ardent collector of Binder's wares. He found his respite in a series of ever-larger yachts, several christened King Baby in homage to his enduring friendship with Binder. King Baby collectors read like a who's who of the music world. As I spoke to Binder about his work, names both classic and recent-Aerosmith, Springsteen, Usher-rolled off his tongue. As we talked, Binder himself referred to his creations as "over-the-top pieces." He explained that those who wear them are often larger-than-life personas who require adornments to match. Concert performers, in particular, favor outsized accessories because the details are visible on stage. The King Baby Collection is available online and at selected retailers including Neiman Marcus.
King Baby Studio, (310) 828-4438; www.kingbabystudio.com