Haute Yachts: Super Servant to the Rescue

Plenty of yachts are capable of transatlantic crossings, but not every owner (or crew, for that matter) wants to undertake the trip. Between the wear and tear on the vessel and the equal wear and tear on the personnel, it can be strenuous.

That’s where a company like Dockwise Yacht Transport comes in. For the past 23 years, Dockwise has put a fleet of carrier ships, two named Super Servant, at the service of yacht owners, whether their boats are 30-footers or three times that size. In fact, Dockwise’s Super Servants can and do carry plenty of megayachts—even ones upwards of 200 feet—back and forth across the Atlantic.

A variety of boats from 30-foot sailboats to a 112-foot power yacht were aboard the 556-foot Super Servant 4 when it arrived in Newport, Rhode Island earlier this month. If the profile of Super Servant 4 shown in the photo here looks a bit strange, that’s because the sides of the vessel are part of a submergible bay, and that bay was already filling up in preparation of the offloading process. All of Dockwise Yacht Transport’s carrier vessels offer “float on, float off” service, wherein the yachts literally cruise right into the central bay. This is in contrast to other companies, which only offer crane service. (Envision giant slings cradling a boat while it’s being lifted up off the deck of a carrier ship.) There’s nothing wrong with crane-oriented ships; it’s just that Dockwise’s service is simpler and more convenient in the minds of its customers.

But wait—if the yachts can just float on in and out, how do they stay put while Super Servant 4 is at sea? When the yachts load, divers fit custom cradle-like devices to the bay’s floor to hold them in place. Once every yacht is in the right position, the submerged bay then begins rising, draining the water.

That’s what occurred with Super Servant 4 when it embarked on its journey a few weeks ago in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. It made a stop in St. Thomas to pick up more yachts before its final leg to Newport. Once positioned offshore, Super Servant 4 began the submerging process, and a team of divers began removing the cradles. After the final yacht—about 30 were aboard—was released from her secure holding, owners and crewmembers were allowed to start their engines, in preparation for the float-off to begin. Seeing it was like watching a carefully choreographed ballet: One at a time, the yachts threw off their lines, then slowly edged out the open end of the submerged bay. Once the last traveler exited Super Servant 4 more than two hours later, the horizon was dotted with sailboats and powerboats heading to Maine, Long Island and other reaches along the East Coast.