Derecktor to Develop New US Superyacht Hub
St. Lucie County Commissioners unanimously chose Derecktor Shipyards to create and manage a facility servicing large yachts in Fort Pierce, Fla. on Nov. 14. Located about 100 miles north of Fort Lauderdale and about 40 miles north of Palm Beach, the shipyard will develop a proposal for a mutually agreeable lease and contract to develop the 290-acre port, with deep water draft, easy land access and no fixed bridges.
Derecktor was established in 1947 by the late Bob Derecktor, a competitive sailor in his own right with his personal fleet of “goose” sailboats, Grey Goose, Wild Goose, Gosling, Flying Goose and Salty Goose.
With a heritage building racing sailboats for Sparkman & Stephens, Derecktor also built renowned America’s Cup winner S/Y Stars & Stripes. Now with operations in New York, Maine and Florida, Derecktor plans Fort Pierce to be the first shipyard in the United States built specifically for extra large megayachts and sailing yachts, according to John Koenig, the yard’s communications director.
“We are happy to be selected,” said Koenig. “This is a great opportunity. We must develop an agreeable contract with the county within 90 days.”
Koenig told Yachting Journal Fort Pierce is a nice alternative to congested Fort Lauderdale, with skilled yachting labor spilling over from nearby Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
“It all happened pretty quickly since our initial tour, with a four to five month process engaged in formal submission,” said Koenig. “It is a local project that the county wants and is part of the port’s master plan.”
Derecktor’s facility in Dania Beach, Fla., directly south of Port Everglades, is growth-constrained by both size and practical length, accommodating vessels up to 200-feet with a 900T lift.
“The restriction there is overhead for sailboats and hauling capacity,” said Koenig. “That’s the impetus for this. We are skewing to a different class in Fort Pierce, larger than we can handle in Dania Beach.”
Emphasizing that any boat fitting in Derecktor's facility is welcome, not solely the largest sailboats, Koenig said there is no place for large sailing yachts seeking complete retrofits in the U.S.
“This was an important part of our presentation to the county commissioners,” said Koenig. “Large sailing yachts tend not to come to US yards but to Europe. A 1,000T sailboat with 200-feet of rigging doesn’t have a lot of choices in U.S. They go where it’s simple and safe. This is a big, untapped market for the United States.”
A mobile hoist to accommodate keels and a large dry dock is part of Derecktor’s vision for Fort Pierce.
While nothing is concrete, Koenig said a 1,400T mobile hoist/lift may occur, with a 3,500T - 5,000T dry dock to attract that market in addition to a brand new facility built from the ground up.
“We are pushing and pressing as fast as we can,” said Koenig of an anticipated three to four year plan building out the initial site with more development potential in the port. "The new development will run north of $20 million," he said.
“Building piers for the lift takes time,” said Koening, adding “Next spring or summer, we hope permits are in place to locate the dry dock, but that’s speculative. As soon as we reach an agreement, we will bring yachts in, maybe pier side for work. There is a good deal of site work and permitting required.”
While no formal alliance is established, Koenig reports a letter of support was issued by Perini Navi for Derecktor’s development of Fort Pierce, as well as kudos from captains and owners regarding the Fort Pierce location.
“The largest sailing yachts can weigh over 1,000T,” he said. “There’s no yard set up for them in this country, and we aim to be first.”