Hollywood royalty walked her decks until the luxury yacht Vida Mia fell into disrepair. Now the ship has a new lease on life.
Eight months ago, the luxury liner yacht sat in a south shore slip abandoned and sinking after 85 years of entertaining rock stars and royalty. Only pumps kept her afloat. Her brass was dulled by sea spray and her gleaming wooden decks were blanched by sun.
"We sure hope someone will come forward and say I want this boat. I want to be the angel that saves this boat and return it to the glory it used to have," said Barkley.
It would have to be an angel with deep pockets.
The boat was owned by CanDO enterprises, which could not deliver on a business plan, so the lady was dumped at Kewalo Basin. The harbor was willing to part with the vessel for a dollar if a new owner could commit to repairs that eventually total to more than a $250,000 dollars.
Fortunately there is someone with that kind of money. KITV4 cannot tell you who rescued the Vida Mia, but we can tell you he's got an appreciation for naval history and a love for craftsmanship.
The Vida Mia returns to the water next week, but it will be up to nine months before she's sea-worthy. The hull pukas are repaired, the interior gutted to make room for cabins, and the woodwork lovingly sanded, stained and varnished.
"There was actually a wall that divided it with a sliding door and it had two big dressers here and two bunks," said Barkley.
For Katie Merrill, who was first mate for more than 20 years, it is a rebirth of elegance rarely seen these days on the high seas.
"There's so many people. They stop by on a weekly basis – 'How's the Vida Mia.' And everybody has their own stories – 'I remember the Vida Mia when…' I heard so many stories," said Merrill.
The boat's new life will be in the luxury charter cruise business. The owner intends to honor the Vida Mia's rich past by retaining her name and keeping her in Hawaiian waters.
When completely restored, the Vida Mia will be able to accommodate six passengers for a luxury experience at sea.