Jim Shay bought the Moonen 99 Hull 191 (ex-Phoebe, Selene, now Pura Vida) in the spring of 2017 and is having a wonderful time on board with family and friends. The yacht is also available for charter in the Caribbean and Bahamas through LJ Houghting at Churchill Yacht Partners. In this exclusive story, Jim explains how owning a Moonen has fulfilled a long-cherished dream.
I’ve loved being on the water ever since I started boating with my family at an early age. My path to yacht ownership began in the early 1970s with our family’s first boat: a 14’ fiberglass motorboat with a pull start engine! As time went on, our boats grew in size and pedigree. My wife Monica and I own a 38’ Hinckley Picnic Boat and a 66’ Azimut, but we longed for something grander, with more exceptional seagoing capabilities.
In addition to our own boats, we have been chartering yachts. Over the years, we connected with a captain-chef couple on the 105-foot Heesen Lady J. When they moved to a larger boat, a 130-foot Christensen Sweet Escape, we followed them. Between my parents and I, we would spend up to seven weeks a year on charter on board Sweet Escape in New England, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
On each occasion, we loved reconnecting with family and friends… Boating is an activity that is comfortable and fun for every generation of the family and a great way to enjoy a holiday with fun watersports, fine dining and relaxing and rejuvenating oneself. There is always something to do on a superyacht regardless of your interests, and enjoying them in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the world; is the icing on the cake.
A Dutch dream
Over the years I developed a real love for the clean and classic lines of Dutch motoryachts: Moonen, Feadship, Hakvoort or Heesen, I admired them all. Despite the advice from family and friends to avoid the investment associated with yacht ownership, I longed to own one myself one day. This urge never abated and I continued to quietly search for the right boat.
Early in the spring of 2017, I came across the listing for Moonen hull 191, I was intrigued by her “sea-luminum, fast hull” design. Knowing she was a Moonen, I anticipated she would be of exceptional quality. The Christensen we chartered was sold and we had hired the first officer and his fiancé to run our boats. They were in the Bahamas by late March 2017 and I asked them to fly to Palm Beach to take a look at the Moonen. Once on board they were deeply impressed with her high-quality construction and impressive Rhoades Young design.
Trusting their judgement completely, I put her under contract, sight unseen, and stepped on board myself for the first time for sea trials in Fort Lauderdale that April. There were many things that made this the right deal for me: she had a motivated seller, she was a Moonen, her engine hours were quite low considering her age (2009) and her layout and volume were spot-on.
As I walked into the wheelhouse I was blown away by the helm stations, and the engine room was a textbook example of how to build a boat of the highest standard. She has outstanding crew accommodations, far exceeding most boats of her size. These crew facilities were not at the cost of the guest suites either, illustrating how smartly designed Moonens are. People talk about how long it takes to build such boats but I have now confirmed that there’s a reason for that!
The sea and salt of the maritime environment is quite inhospitable over time and our Moonen was ready for a few months in the yard. During that time, she had a full paint job, all new interior soft goods and we added all the latest technology for navigation and entertainment. We had two captains run the refit, both skippers were hugely impressed with the construction and strength of our Moonen.
The result today is a fabulous superyacht that is fully updated. She is so comfortable, so seaworthy and so quiet. Sitting in the cabins while underway you can hear a pin drop. It’s unbelievable. Her variable propellers make her extraordinarily fuel efficient. The heating and air-conditioning system is superb and whisper-quiet, you don’t see a vent anywhere on this boat. The joinery and cabinetry, the fit and finish of the interiors of the closets, the lockers, the door handles, the smooth, rounded woodwork in the lower passageway; there’s a long list of excellence. I think sometimes people don’t understand the difference in quality between boats. The minute you step on board, the minute you round the point and head into seas, you feel it; you know she’s different.
I can get emotional about my yacht. I love my wife, my children and my family... And then I love my boat. She has exceeded our expectations and is a pleasure to own – I am truly proud of her builders back in the Netherlands and to experience personally the quality which I’d previously only read about. We’ve had charter guests on board this winter who have raved about her and her comforts. Last summer, we were at anchorages all over New England and I lost count of how often I’d see someone going by and giving us the thumbs-up sign of approval!
My friends and I have different lives and different interests, but the one thing we all share is the way we reconnect on the ocean. It’s just a beautiful part of life and we want to introduce people to this kind of vacation by offering our Moonen Pura Vida for charter.
We enjoy her often ourselves and we hope to bring her over to Europe. She’s got a range of 2500 nautical miles, so we can take her just about anywhere, the world is our oyster.