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ON THE WATERFRONT

OCEAN-GOING ESTATES : Luxury Reigns and Dollars Don't Count for Owners of 2 Newport Harbor Yachts

August 26, 1989|SHEARLEAN DUKE | Shearlean Duke is a regular contributor to Orange County Life.

Cruising along Newport Harbor in a 14-foot sailboat, a woman cranes her neck to gawk at a gleaming white yacht berthed in front of a luxury waterfront home. "What's a boat like that cost? About $300,000?" she wonders aloud to her companion as the small sailboat skims by, dwarfed by the 127-foot, 200-ton vessel.

Try $10 million. And another $1 million a year for maintenance, insurance, fuel and crew salaries.

In the world of yachting, the P'zazz--owned by Robert Cohen and his wife, Beverly--is a mega-yacht. A yacht so big, so opulent, so grand that when you enter it, you feel as if you have stepped into an episode of "Life-styles of the Rich and Famous." Into a world of plush Oriental carpets, silk-covered walls, gold leaf ceilings, polished woods and smooth, supple leathers. A world overseen by a staff of servants, including a cordon bleu chef and a full-time captain.

Orange County has roughly 60,000 boats registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The average boater owns a 16-footer and parks it in the driveway. The average boat in California costs $4,000. Only about 450 of the 734,000 boats registered in California are longer than 65 feet.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday August 26, 1989 Orange County Edition Metro Part 2 Page 2 Column 5 Metro Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Photo Credit--Today's Orange County Life section, which is printed in advance, failed to give credit for the main color photo on its cover. The photographer was Dick Busher. The photo was provided to The Times by Intradesign of Los Angeles.

In Orange County, only a handful of privately owned boats measure more than 100 feet and qualify as mega-yachts, a term increasingly used in the boating community to describe the giant, multimillion-dollar vessels. A few years ago, there weren't even that many.

"Ten years ago, there weren't many boats over 70 or 75 feet out here," says Newport Beach yacht broker Tom Corkett. But in the past three to five years, the county has seen "more and more big boats," he says.

Among those with megabucks, the trend is toward mega-yachts, according to Jim Gilbert, editor of Showboats International, a Florida-based magazine that specializes in covering the world's most luxurious and expensive yachts. "For big boats, it is boom town around the world," Gilbert says. "No one keeps any sort of accurate documentation, but there are probably more boats under construction over 100 feet now than existed 10 years ago."

The increase in mega-yachts is the result of a healthy economy and the willingness of buyers to spend big money, according to the marketing director of the Seattle company that built P'zazz, the $10-million showstopper that sailed into Newport Harbor this summer. At 127 feet, the boat is believed to be the county's largest privately owned yacht.

For Robert and Beverly Cohen, the yacht is the culmination of a lifelong dream that began 37 years ago when the couple were newlyweds. Back then, the Cohens, like more typical California boaters, owned a 17-foot trailer boat. "We didn't even have any furniture then, but we owned a boat," Beverly Cohen recalls. Like most boat owners, the Cohens kept trading up as they kept moving up in the world. Over the years, they have owned a dozen different boats ranging in length from 17 to 72 feet.

P'zazz, which took three years to build, incorporates all the best of their previous boats, says Robert Cohen, co-owner of the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel. The new boat is berthed in a custom-built slip in front of the Cohens' Bayshores home--the former residence of John Wayne.

By almost any standard, P'zazz, featured recently in a 13-page article in Showboats International, is first-rate, from its stylishly sleek hull to its 65-foot-tall upper deck, complete with eight-person spa, sauna, treadmill and exercise bike.

The boat, built by Delta Marine in Seattle, cost more than $6 million to build and--because mega-yachts increase in value--is estimated to be worth about $10 million today. The interior of the vessel was designed by Los Angeles-based Intra-Design, the firm that also did the interior of the Four Seasons and the Century Towers hotels. The boat's French Art Deco interior looks like something out of the pages of Architectural Digest. When you step inside the vessel, you have to keep reminding yourself that you are on a boat, not inside an exquisitely decorated home.

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