They first saw her at a marina in Brisbane, Australia, and were thrilled when she turned out to be as pretty as she’d looked in the photos online. Her name had been Ulysses, because that’s what New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart calls many of his boats. He had moved on to a new yacht, leaving the 100-foot 1976 Millkraft available for someone with a love of traditional vessels.
Charlotte Devereux turned out to be that person.
“He wasn’t the original owner. It was a custom build in Australia. I think he was the second or third owner, but he’d done quite a bit of work on her and spent a lot of money on her,” says Devereux, who, along with her life partner, bought the boat and renamed her Sea Breeze III. “We really discovered how beautiful she was with the beautiful features and mahogany finishing and 9-karat-gold sinks—there are all these details that were absolutely phenomenal.”
Devereux had run a 12-room boutique hotel in New Zealand, and her family had restored classic boats when she was growing up. Her partner is a former America’s Cup sailor who competed as a grinder during the races in Perth, Australia, in 1987. Together, they decided to refit Sea Breeze III into a “boutique-style” charter vessel in time for bookings at the America’s Cup in Auckland in March 2021.
As this issue of Yachting lands on newsstands, work is scheduled to be completed on the structural part of the refit, which includes adding a bulkhead, renovating the crew quarters, and raising the bridge deck to allow more headroom on the main deck below.
“By raising it, we gain more headroom,” Devereux says, “and it allowed for reinforcements, so we can take up to 99 guests out for a day charter at events like the America’s Cup, where you want a spectator platform.”
The yacht’s exterior lines won’t change, she says, but after the structural part of the refit is complete, work on the interior will begin, probably in June. Devereux was still looking for the right interior designer this past spring, trying to find someone who shares her sensibilities about style.
“We don’t want the nautical look,” she says. “We want something that—for example, I had my boutique hotel, the Devereux Hotel, years ago, and it had all the rooms decorated. What caught everybody’s attention was that it wasn’t just a traditional hotel. On boats, you tend to still see the traditional or the very modern. We wanted to bring in something that’s not being done in the boating world, something out of an interior magazine like Elle or Vogue where you wouldn’t actually believe it’s a boat.”
In her mind’s eye, she sees an updated version of the Devereux Hotel for the yacht’s three guest staterooms and other living areas.
“Each room had a different country theme,” she says of her hotel. “There was a French room, an Egyptian room, the Tuscany room, the Antigua room—from the bedding to the decor, it was that theme with gorgeous antiques from around the world. We want to do that on the boat, to showcase beautiful artwork and antiques. It’s such a historic boat that it’s wonderful to bring that in—but with modern elements to give it a twist.”
The interior work is expected to take another few months, making Sea Breeze III available for charter toward the end of this year. Inquiries are already coming in for one-week bookings during that time period, Devereux says, as well as for longer-term charters at the America’s Cup—when the yacht will require a minimum booking of 30 days.
“That’s what most of the boats here are doing,” she says. “Some are talking about booking for 90 days. It’s crazy. There aren’t a huge amount of boats available, but one has booked for 40 days, another for 34, so people are needing to get in quickly because they are getting snapped up. People can bring guests on for the day and then stay for the night, then maybe they can cruise to the islands that we have within reach.”
During the America’s Cup, Sea Breeze III will be based at Auckland’s Viaduct, which is also where the Prada Race Village will be to support the Luna Rossa Challenge campaign.
“We’ll be somewhere in that small area, right in the small hub of it,” Devereux says. “I say to the teenage girls, ‘Well, this is going to be a bit of fun, having Prada right next door.’”
Devereux plans to be there herself, serving as hostess aboard Sea Breeze III just as she did for guests at the Devereux Hotel back in the day. Her plan is to coordinate whatever the guests want, be it a yoga instructor, disc jockey or trained bartender.
“We’re very much about creating a very special experience,” she says. “This isn’t about white-glove butler service. This is about a wonderful New Zealand experience.”
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