Manville's Hi-Esmaro was launched at the yards of the Bath Iron Works in Maine.
It was a million-dollar yacht and looked every dollar of it. In design, the
267-foot yacht had the graceful hull lines of a swanlike clipper ship, with a
handsome, gold-leaf-covered figurehead. The living and dining rooms were
splendidly manorial. Individual menu holders, costing $150 each, stood on the
dining table: the china dining service cost $10,000.
Soon nearly a
score of big yachts measuring well over 200 feet were frequenting East Coast
resort harbors, when not off visiting exotic ports, and many more were on
order. Members of leading yacht clubs merely yawned at mention of anything
under 150 feet. And it took a big one, like the Hi-Esmaro or George F. Baker
Jr.'s 272-foot Viking, to really arouse their enthusiasm.
When the junior
Baker's $1,500,000 Viking was launched, his self-made banker father, who had
reached his 88th birthday and was then one of the three or four richest men in
America, was asked to explain why, unlike his son, he had never gone in for big
yachts. "My son can afford it," said George F. Baker Sr. "He has a
had a rich father, too, but she and the Scivcirona II, which had survived
increasing competition in yacht size and magnificence for a year and a half,
were outclassed in the summer of 1929 when American Textile Industrialist
Julius Forstmann's Orion was sent down the ways of the Krupp Germania yards at
Kiel. Forstmann had left Germany 30 years before to make his fortune in the
United States. When the New Jersey woolen manufacturer placed his order for the
vessel that was to succeed to the title of the world's largest private yacht,
he was worth more than $50 million and could well afford his $2-million-plus
Orion, measuring 333 feet from stem to stern, only 28 feet of which was
overhang, had a 46-foot beam and grossed an unrivaled 3,100 tons. Modeled like
a transatlantic steamer, though far more luxurious, this was the yacht that had
everything from radio compass and sonic depth finder-to marble swimming pool
and fully equipped gymnasium.
auxiliary boat equipment included a 34-foot owner's launch with a
125-horsepower motor, a 32-foot guest launch with a 65-horsepower motor, a
fishing boat, two unsinkable lifeboats with radio equipment and a dinghy.
public, including not a few who regularly blasphemed the owners, had long had a
uniquely sentimental regard for the most famous of all American yachts, the
pirate-black-hulled Corsairs of the J.P. Morgans. The older, or chop-whiskered,
Morgan had built three Corsairs in his lifetime. His son, who is most often
recalled today as the Morgan who was photographed with a female midget planted
on his knee by an enterprising press agent, was to build a fourth.
When J. P. Morgan
the younger decided that he, too, needed a bigger, faster yacht, he was faced
with the difficult problem of disposing of the 30-year-old steam-driven vessel
he had inherited from his father. For a while, he seriously considered taking
her out to sea and scuttling her with all flags flying. But then neither he nor
his veteran captain, William B. Porter, the highest-salaried sea captain in the
world, could bring themselves to perform the coup de gr�ce. It was decided in
the end to turn the yacht over to the U.S. government for use as a Coast and
Geodetic Survey ship, with the stipulation that when she was no longer of
service to the government, she would be scrapped, never sold. No mere mortal
was going to have the boastful distinction of being owner of a former Morgan
yacht! In order to comply with a law prohibiting the government from accepting
gifts, a token payment of SI was accepted for the yacht.
Cadwalader decided to get rid of her yacht in the fall of 1929, she wasn't
about to scuttle it, or even consider trading it to the government for a
piddling dollar. She sold the good-as-new Savarona II to Copper Magnate William
Boyce Thompson for 51,800,000.