Finding Out What Separates the Haves and Have Yachts


I never watch “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” because I’m petty and spiteful and resentful of other people’s success and, besides, why waste a perfectly good Hostess Twinkie throwing it at the television.

So when a public relations friend of mine asked me to an “invitation only” showing of a new million-dollar yacht moored in Newport Beach, I figured she was doing it to torture me or, at the very least, rub my nose in my own pathetic bourgeois existence.

But like most people who will never actually be rich, I have no objection to seeing what it’s like to be rich. The mere thought of forking over a mil for a boat is pretty decadent, and since I define part of my job as chronicling the continuing decline of our civilization, I felt as though duty called.


The yacht is being offered (is that the right term?) by Hardin/Sea Ray on Lido Isle. At first glance, I have to admit to a little disappointment. I was expecting something with three or four decks and the cast of “Hollywood Hot Tub” sunning themselves topside. Instead, the craft looked more like an alabaster speedboat, albeit 62 1/2 feet long. But when they ask you to take off your shoes before stepping into the boat, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Sales manager Bill Ellingboe was my yacht guide. I confessed that I was an ignoramus about yachts, and his look didn’t suggest the slightest bit of surprise at hearing that. He said he’d had a good year in the business and that he hoped to sell this new toy within a few days.

“You’d be surprised how many people in Newport Beach could write a check for it,” he said, noting that the actual price is $1.1 million.

We went down into the bowels of the boat, and believe me, these are some of the best-looking bowels you’ll ever see. Roughly the size of my first apartment, the carpeted main room consisted of a kitchen with microwave, refrigerator, sink, trash compactor and bar; two sofas, a retractable glass dinette table and a 25-inch TV/VCR unit with stereo and compact disc player. One of the sofas snaked along a wall for 23 feet and the other folded down into a bed. Not to mention the closeted washer/dryer.

“The wife buys down here, the old man buys up at the helm,” he said, referring to the cockpit control panel that resembled that of the Starship Enterprise.

The master stateroom features a circular queen-size bed surrounded by five mirrors and with a wall unit that holds a 13-inch TV. The bathroom, complete with shower, is accented with 24-carat gold. Somehow, it’s hard to picture your hair in that sink.


With its fuel capacity of about 800 gallons, the yacht is ideally suited for trips up and down the coast or, say, over to Catalina. Hawaii would be too far, Ellingboe said.

We came back topside. It didn’t take much imagination to picture yourself sunning on the deck, with the trusty craft idling on the soundless blue Pacific.

That’s how I picture a yacht, going approximately a half-knot per day. Not so with this toy, Ellingboe said.

The yacht can go upward of 40 m.p.h. and could knock you back in your seat when thrust into gear. Oh, man, talk about cruisin’ with the top down.

“It’s even awesome for me, and I’ve been doing it since 1960,” Ellingboe said. “I get chills up and down my spine when I take the boat out. It’s an awesome piece of equipment.”

I figured he meant it, because I know he sensed I wasn’t a potential customer for whom a sales pitch should be wasted.


“It’s just the size and the awesomeness of the way the engine’s propelling it through the water,” he said. “You put it in gear and it jumps away from the dock. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe. As many times as I’ve been in it, it still amazes me that the boat gives me that kind of feeling.”

For the first time in my life, I wanted to be rich. And not afraid of water.

“I’ll tell you something else this is good for,” Ellingboe said. For some reason I just knew what he was going to say.

“Girls love it,” he said. “If there are girls standing on the dock anywhere around this thing, they want to come on board. You don’t even have to ask them.”

I tried to shoot him a look like, “Hey, buddy, don’t worry about me, I do all right,” but who’s kidding who?

I left the harbor imagining what it must be like to stand on the deck of the yacht and call out, “Say, you there on the dock! Care to climb aboard? We’re heading over to Catalina tonight.”

Dream on, pal.

I’ll have to stick with my old standard for a Saturday night: “Say, how about a round of miniature golf?”