Legendary Super Yacht Arrives In The Galapagos

On the 50th Anniversary of the Galapagos National Park and Darwin’s Bicentennial year the vintage super yacht, Grace, begins a series of charters based in the Galapagos National Park.

The superyacht’s history is legend in that it includes WW II action, was owned by Aristotle Onassis and was given by him it Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly’s as a wedding gift on which they spent their honeymoon.

Not since HMS Beagle sailed into the Galapagos Islands carrying a young Charles Darwin in 1835 has a vessel of such historic significance entered the archipelago. Like Beagle, the motor yacht Grace was built in Britain, and served in the Royal Navy.

Grace was originally commissioned one year before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, during the Great Gatsby era, and built by Camper & Nicholson in Southampton, England. Monica, as she was originally named, features a stellar past. After serving as the personal yacht of high powered industrialists, including Sir George Tilley, chairman of the Prudential Insurance Co., she was conscripted into the British Navy during WWII.

Commissioned as Rion, she took part in Dunkirk, captured a German torpedo E-boat and had an unconfirmed sinking of a U-boat to her credit. Winston Churchill is purported to have cruised the Mediterranean aboard her after the war.

In 1951 she was acquired by a company owned by Aristotle Onassis, and it was he who renamed her Arion. He then gave the yacht as a wedding gift to Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his bride, Hollywood film legend Grace Kelly, who rechristened her Deo Juvante II in time to honeymoon aboard her.

Quarsar the company that now operates her has renamed the yacht Grace to recapture this magical time when she delivered the royal couple to Monaco and took them on their Royal honeymoon.

The official launch of the yacht in the Galapagos in July 2009 coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. 2009 also marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin, whose field work in the islands led to his writing of On the Origin of Species and his theory of evolution.

The yacht is according to her operators selling well despite hard economic times, indicating continued demand for high end value in 16 passenger yachts in the Galapagos National Park, which limits daily visitors by vessel to fewer than 2,000.