The owner and operator of the vessel ERSA in Destin harbor is heartbroken. Sloan Smith, who owns Salty Jig Charters, has no idea what caused his late father’s vessel to take on water. The 73-foot, 1929 classic, custom-built motor yacht’s stern was submerged in its slip Thursday. ”We are just sick,” Smith said. “It’s been a labor of love, because it’s an all wooden boat.”
The superstructure of the boat is Honduran mahogany and all the decks are teak. The spacious living area is complete with couches, a table, a bar area and many windows for enjoying a great view.
The vessel is named after Sloan’s father Eugene R. Smith III, who was an architect. Smith acquired the circa 1929 yacht out of New York in 1983 and lived on it for many years until he passed away in 2010.
The boat was to be auctioned off last year with an opening bid of $275,000, but no one met the seller’s requirements.
Sea Tow was responding to the submerged vessel today, when it is pumped out and patched, the vessel will be brought to the boat yards in Bayou La Batre.
THIS PROFILE OF THE VESSEL WAS WRITTEN IN 2012 BY THE LOG'S JORDAN SWANSON
A true ‘gentleman's’ yacht
‘A beautiful labor of love’ to be auctioned on harbor
If you’ve got a passion for old-fashioned yachts and $275,000 to spare, then ERSA could be yours.
ERSA is a 73-foot, 1929 classic, custom-built motor yacht by New York Yacht, Launch & Engine Company in Morris Heights, N.Y. It’s “a true ‘gentleman's’ yacht seeking a discriminating new owner,” states the boat’s auction brochure.
The vessel is named after its former owner Eugene R. Smith III who was an architect. Smith acquired the yacht out of New York in 1983 and lived on it for many years until he passed away in 2010. He was a long-time resident of Destin who grew up in Andalusia, Ala.
The yacht is being publically auctioned on Tuesday, April 3, at 2 p.m. at 612 Harbor Blvd. on the patio behind Salty Jig, overlooking the harbor where ERSA is parked. It is being auctioned by Int’l Boat & Marine Auction Services as part of the Eugene R. Smith III estate. The law firm representing the estate is Dowd Law Firm out of Fort Walton Beach.
The estate’s five heirs are Sloan Smith, his wife and their two children, and Freddie Castro.
Sloan Smith is Eugene Smith’s only child and the only licensed captain for ERSA.
Freddie Castro has been with the Smith family for the last 18 years and knows the vessel inside and out.
“I came in ’95 and started working for him,” said Castro.
Castro went on many trips in the yacht, while working for Eugene and recalls going out of town with it to escape from possible hurricane damage.
The boat’s suggested opening bid is $275,000 and will be auctioned by 25-year veteran auctioneer Kip Kane. Trade for real estate will be considered.
“The mahogany is all inside — the hull is made from white fir,” said Kane. “The bottom is 2-inch fir, the sides are 1.5-inch fir, and the stern is 2-inch fir. All the decks are teak.”
The superstructure is Honduran mahogany.
The bottom floor consists of the crew’s bunks and the engine room on one side of the yacht. Among other rooms and living areas, the rest of the yacht consists of the master bedroom, stateroom, guest suites and three bathrooms.
In 1984 and 1985, Smith spent $2 million on an extensive refit of the vessel. During the restoration, the vessel was completely repowered and its extensive teak and mahogany throughout was removed and reworked by the master wood worker Stephen Z. Bischoff.
The yacht’s gross tonnage is 70 tons and its maximum speed is 18 knots. Its twin General Motors Detroit Diesel 6-71s were refit five years ago.
The three-story yacht is also U.S. Coast Guard documented.
A report of condition and valuation survey was completed on February 10, 2011.
“Fortunately, this one was pulled out on a railroad, so we got a chance to see the bottom,” said Kane. “A lot of times you’ll just have a water survey, but that doesn’t really show you what’s on the bottom.”
For more information on the auction and to view an online video of ERSA, visit MarineAuctionServices.com.
“It is one of a kind,” said Kane. “And we’re looking for that new, one-of-a-kind owner.”