Super yacht docked in Portland Harbor among world’s largest

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PORTLAND — The largest single-masted sailing yacht ever built is docked in Portland Harbor and towering over DiMillo’s Marina in the Old Port.

Called the M5 and measuring about 277 feet long with a beam 54 feet, the massive pleasure craft arrived Monday, a DiMillo’s employee said.

Where it’s headed or who’s aboard has not been publicly disclosed, but according to MarineTraffic.com, the vessel sailed to Maine from Newport, Rhode Island.

But one thing is for sure – the owner is likely wealthier than your wildest dreams.

“The guys who have the money and the wherewithal to do this have large egos and it takes a very large yacht to carry them,” said John Hanson, publisher of Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine.

Hanson said the original owners of boats this size are typically open and public about it, while those who buy them “used” tend to be more discreet. “The first owner builds it as a way to show how big and powerful he is,” Hanson said.

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In this case, the M5 was commissioned by Joseph Vittoria, the former chairman and CEO of Avis rental car company. It was completed at a British shipyard and launched in 2004 under the name Mirabella V, but was renamed in 2012 after the boat changed owners.

The original price was not reported at the time it was launched, but was later estimated to be $50 million by people in the maritime industry.

Vittoria reportedly sold the sloop in 2011 for $25 million, according to Fortune magazine and other sources. The buyer was Rod Lewis, a billionaire Texas oil-and-gas tycoon.

The vessel has a master bedroom suite on its main deck and six cabins that sleep up to 12 people. Running the boat requires a crew of more than a dozen, according to a 2010 Greenwich Time story.

And if mooring it isn’t possible, there is a smaller yacht stored inside the hull that can be launched to ferry passengers and visitors back and forth to shore from an anchorage.

If water travel isn’t appealing, there is even space to park a small sea plane on the stern, thanks to a retrofit that extended the M5’s overall length.

Hanson said that many boats this size are often chartered, and at great cost.

As of 2005, the yacht’s charter rate per week was about $420,000, and if it was rented 14 weeks a year, the rental revenue of about $5.9 million would equal its annual operating costs, the Greenwich newspaper reported. Whether those figures still hold true is unknown.

While larger sailing yachts with more masts have been constructed, M5 still ranks as the largest of the single-mast variety, according to BoatInternational.com, a clearinghouse for news and advertisements for yacht sales, rankings and charters and other expensive maritime hobbies. The Greenwich paper reported that the mast is nearly 290 feet tall, nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty and too tall to fit under the Golden Gate Bridge, according to Forbes.

Hanson said Maine is a popular destination this time of year for wealthy, seafaring travelers.

“There’s no place better to have your boat in August than the coast of Maine. Seriously,” he said. “Maine is the most awesome cruising grounds in the world. And that’s why they’re here. You can explore the coast of Maine in a 24-footer you get on Craigslist, and have the same experience. Well, not quite the same experience. You might be drinking out of a beer can. But the view is the same.”

The M5, the largest single-masted yacht ever built, dwarf’s other boats at DeMillo’s Marina in Portland on Monday. The luxury yacht measures 277 feet long by 54 feet wide and comfortably sleeps 12. The vessel has room for a smaller yacht held inside its hull, and deck space for a small float plane. Photo by Bronson Guimond

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