Some super yachts can sail through time without any one noticing them. Others it seems are dogged by bad luck.
Among those surely has to be the 75-metre long four-masted super yacht Phocea which has been under arrest in Port Vila harbour the Capital of Vanuatu since it arrived from Italy, via Panama and Tonga, on July 14 last year.
Before the launching of Athena by Royal Huisman in 2004 Phocea was the largest sailing yacht in the world
Built as Club Mediterranee in Toulon during 1976 for the yachtsman Alain Colas. He entered her into a Trans-Atlantic race, sailing her single handed he came second but was tragically lost at sea the following year.
Then in 1982 the French business man Bernard Tapie bought and re named her Phocea before sending her to Marseilles where he paid a small fortune to convert her to a private yacht. Subsequently he was jailed for corruption.
The French Lebanese socialite Mouna Ayoub purchased the yacht in 1977 and is rumoured to have sold The Mouna, one of her diamonds, at 112 carats and said to be the largest yellow diamond in the world, along with several other lesser jewels to pay for the yachts $17 million refit which included the installation of cabinets by David Linley.
In August 2005 she hit the headlines after running aground off the coast of Sardina. That might have gone unnoticed but the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were aboard and three other people were seriously injured.
Now her miseries are compounded with the statement coming from Transport Malta confirming that the provisional Maltese registration obtained last year for super yacht was ‘obtained without proof of ownership and other registration requirements’.
The Vanuatu Daily Post has reported the government there would like the super yacht to leave, but since the paperwork is out of order and no one can establish where it is registered she remains under arrest.
The newspaper has reported that local authorities have that Phocea was also simultaneously registered in Luxembourg France, and Vanuatu. Yet legally a ship may only be registered under just one Flag State at a time
Vu Anh Quan Saken, a Thai with a Vanuatu diplomatic passport is reputedly the yachts latest owner, but since the Vanuatu Government cannot establish if it is registered anywhere the yacht lies at anchor stateless, in Vila harbour at the height of the cyclone season where she has become somewhat of a tourist attraction.