A so-called "mega-yacht" may be coming to a Southern California harbor this weekend. But some residents are opposed to plans to have this and possibly another yacht moor right in their backyards.
It is described by some as a personal cruise ship. Harbor officials say there has never been a boat the size of the Invictus on Newport's waterways. It stands five stories tall and 216 feet long, or the size of a 20-story building.
The yacht belongs to billionaire Rick Caruso, who plans to christen the vessel as early as this weekend, and there is only one place deep enough to moor the 580-ton yacht: the Newport Harbor at the Lido Marina Village.
"I think it would be weird to have a boat sitting directly in the middle of the harbor, but if they're paying for it they might as well get what they're paying for," said Nathan Bryant, owner of Suplove, a paddle board business.
Bryant said he hopes that the boat brings him big bucks from people who are curious enough to see the ship and then maybe try out paddle boarding.
But Cassandra Vasquez, of Windward Sailing Co., said she would rather see the water than a big boat.
"Why would they let a 216-foot long boat moor in here?" said Vazquez. "It's a small harbor, I think."
Other residents are concerned the yacht will be noisy and emit fumes.
City officials are poised to give Caruso a two-month permit, with the promise that the boat will only be in the harbor for four weekends. There are no docks big enough to hold it, so The Invictus must bring its own moorings.
"Our focus is really to attract a different size vessel and to be more visitor friendly," Harbor Resource Director Chris Miller said. "Certainly there is a [mooring] fee involved."
Based on what the city charges at $38 per foot per year, the fee comes out to $1,368 for two months. But harbor officials said they are not doing it for the money.
"Our goal is to test it and see if it works," Miller said.
Caruso's office declined to comment on the situation.
The owner of a second boat that is about 130 feet long is also asking for a permit to moor at the harbor and have a wedding onboard. The "mega-yachts" would not be parked at the same time.
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