Photographer's Note

“Billionaire's boat”

The world's fifth-largest yacht, Le Grand Bleu made its first visit to NZ waters on 14th December 2005. As Le Grand Bleu sat at sea off Auckland, the Custom Officers who had business on board got a tour of what is believed to be the biggest private vessel to visit New Zealand.

There's a 2m x 2m glass bottom in the bowels of the yacht, surrounded by lounge chairs, an awed customs officer told The New Zealand Herald.

There's a cool-off pool the size of a large spa that abuts an aquarium.

"It's fantastic - more spacious than a passenger liner," he said yesterday afternoon as the blue-and-white steel vessel, which is too large for the Viaduct Harbour, docked at Princes Wharf.

The boat belongs to Russian oil billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, 39, who has an estimated $13.3 billion fortune. He is not on board nor due to visit.

The galley, added the customs officer, stretches the width of the boat, whose interior features creamy carpets and polished wood.

You can see the 22m sailboat sitting in its cradle on deck, and there’s a speedboat, and a 12m cruiser.

And there's a famous parrot. The grey and red bird lives just off the crew mess in a cage with an electric cover.

It apparently whistles the French national anthem, but settled for squawking at the customs officers.

The (very) big blue

Le Grand Bleu ("Big Blue")
Built: 2000, Germany
Length: 108m
Added extras: 22m sailboat, speedboat, helicopter, eight jet skis
Crew: 35, including one New Zealander
Captain: Yannek Olsen, Denmark
Value: $145m

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Additional Photos by Janice Dunn (Janice) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 920 W: 68 N: 1359] (4403)
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