The total cost of
Mrs. Cadwalader's pranked-out pride came to more than $2 million. With a crew
of 41, the up-keep was in excess of $200,000 a year.
Only a few years
earlier, such a vessel would have been impossible—physically, mechanically and
financially. Very few large yachts had been built since the war, and of those
that survived the war, most were coal-burning monsters that could hardly be
called pleasure craft; and few were the owners' wives who could be persuaded to
set foot aboard such vessels. But with the removal of wartime luxury taxes on
the over-all lengths of pleasure yachts and the turning to diesel for power,
yacht design was to change radically.
clients that diesel yachts 175 feet in length could have more room for owner,
guests and crew than a steam yacht 250 feet long—such was the reduction in size
of the power plant. Too, the decreased weight of the machinery allowed for the
carrying of great quantities of fuel oil, greatly increasing the cruising
radius. The lower center of gravity of the diesel engines and the fuel stores
also increased the stability of the vessel. No longer would yacht owners have
to suffer the cramped quarters, limited and obstructed deck space, soot and
belching smoke known to the owners of even the finest of the coal burners.
The day of the
old-fashioned ship-style interior was to go, too, now that yachts could be
built to please even the most fastidious owner's wife. Interior decorators
familiar to Palm Beach, Newport and Saratoga society were called in, and the
results were interiors that persuaded the voyager not that he was at sea but
that he was in a fine country home or luxurious Park Avenue apartment.
welcomed the challenges presented to them by gold-heeled yacht buyers and
incorporated every modern navigational device and comfort obtainable into craft
that began more and more to resemble miniature ocean liners.
When Vincent Astor
discussed the building of his new yacht with Naval Architect Theodore Ferris,
he impressed upon Ferris that he desired just such a "steamship" yacht.
The Krupp Germania Company of Kiel. Germany was awarded the contract to build
straight-stemmed, businesslike-looking Nourmahal was a good 30 feet shorter
than Mrs. Cadwalader's Savarona II and, though somewhat broader of beam, did
not quite measure up to that craft in gross tonnage. When Astor brought the
$600,000 bargain vessel home to New York, nearly six months after the Savarona
II had been welcomed, newsmen hailed the Nourmahal as "the new queen of the
deep." They said it marked the beginning of "the superyacht era."
This was a slight to Mrs. Cadwalader and her toy.
A lot of yacht
But the 263-foot
Nourmahal was a lot of yacht. Trim of line and smart of pace, she was built to
sail any sea in any weather and had a cruising range of 19,000 miles on one
fueling. Unlike his first Nourmahal, which he had inherited from his father
after the latter went down with the Titanic in 1912, the new Nourmahal had no
armament. Fearing pirates in Mediterranean and Caribbean waters, John Jacob
Astor IV had equipped his yacht with four Hotchkiss rapid-firing guns.
Henry Ford, too,
had yacht fever. His Sialia was a comfortable 202-footer, which should have
been more than adequate for Great Lakes cruising. But he decided one day that
he'd like the Sialia more if she were just a little bit bigger. So the
steel-hulled Sialia was stripped down and cut in two. The delicate engineering
feat represented a virtual rebuilding of the yacht. But a piece was inserted
and stretched she was. The new Sialia, 21 feet 7 inches longer than the old,
was delivered to Detroit along with a bill for $650,000—which was 550,000 more
than the Sialia had cost originally and $400,000 more than Ford was to receive
when he sold her to Archie M. Andrews several years later.