The 147-foot Bella T superyacht, built for an American industrialist in 1973 and once owned by a sultan in Malaysia, is in a state of disrepair in Cape Town, South Africa. With multiple changes of names and owners, unpaid and overdue yard bills, lawsuits and countersuits, the yacht, which once hosted the first series of the TV show Survivor, now will be put up for a court-ordered auction on March 1.
The yacht originally was the dream of Roy Carver, who made a fortune in the tire retreading business. He hired Arthur de Fever and Doug Sharp to design it, and the Maritima de Axpe yard in Bilbao, Spain, to build it.
But Axpe took too long and Carver was impatient. He turned to Feadship in the Netherlands to build a yacht using the same design and specs. It delivered the yacht in 1975.
Meanwhile, Axpe completed the original yacht in 1976. It has a steel hull, an aluminum superstructure and it can hold 16 guests in six cabins, plus ten crew. It’s powered by twin 750-hp Cat D348TA diesels, with a top speed of 15 knots and a cruising speed of 13 knots. Range: 1,650 nm. It has a beam of 15’ 7”, a draft of 11’ 8” and a displacement of 348 tons.
Axpe sold the boat to the Sultan of Sabah in Malaysia, who subsequently sold it to another Malaysian owner who named it Sipadan Princess. It was sold again to Earl Romans, an American, and renamed Summit One. In 2001, it was taken from Malaysia to the Farocean yard in Cape Town, South Africa, for a refit. The hull was lengthened by 16 feet and the yacht was renamed the Bella T.
But Farocean said Romans didn’t make payments, and it halted work in 2003. After some legal issues, the yacht was sold to a company in Dubai and then to Nautic Africa; Europa Shipping bought it five years ago.
After more legal issues, last year a South Africa court ordered the Bella T to be auctioned. The hull is now stripped back to steel, and engine parts, props and many interior items are in containers. In 2020, the Maritime Bureau of Africa said the engines were in good condition. The public auction is being handled by Solution Strategists, which specializes in yacht sales. Read more: