“My first experience with boats was 2002 when I chartered Douce France, a [42-metre] catamaran in the Caribbean – and I fell in love with being on boats in that one trip,” says Roland Emmerich, who spoke to us exclusively for episode 34 of the BOAT Briefing podcast.
The Hollywood director, best known for disaster flicks such as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and White House Down, was so taken with the on board experience that he went on to charter Douce France – the biggest sailing cat in the world at her 1998 launch – several more times.
But it was on a Christmas holiday at the Amanpuri resort in Phuket, Thailand in 2006, that Emmerich found the boat that would shape his yachting future.
He asked to charter the hotel’s biggest boat and was introduced to Maid Marian 2, a classic 33 metre motor yacht. She was launched as Cleopatra in 1931 in New York, and later served as a patrol boat for the US Coast Guard in World War II. After the war, her owner retired to Florida and lived aboard, moored up in Palm Beach, until the early 1990s. Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts then purchased the yacht and shipped her to Phuket.
“She was built as a steamboat, which was interesting to me,” says Emmerich, who loved her classic lines. He bought her and enlisted British designer John Teall for a major refurbishment to return her to her original glory – Teall lived in Phuket for seven or eight months during the project.
They added seating and sunbathing to the top deck, turned a forward dining toom into a double en suite cabin and joined two separate saloons to make one open space. They also upgraded the A/C and added new bathrooms. “We just tried to remodel the boat like it looked then, but with a slight modern touch,” says Emmerich.
They also largely rebuilt the wooden boat in teak, which was readily available in Thailand. “It made the boat much heavier but also made it more stable,” he says.
Maid Marian 2 now charters in Greece, an area Emmerich loves for its varied and accessible cruising grounds. “You can go to a totally remote place and one or two hours you’re in the midst of great restaurants and beach clubs,” he says.
His favourite spot is Mykonos, which, “feels to me like St Tropez in the 70s,” he says. The island – with its combination of glamour and laid back lifestyle – seems the perfect spot for a Hollywood director in search of some R&R.
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