By Larry Pearson
A new commercial charter yacht was delivered in July 2004 to SunQuest Yacht Charters, Shalimar, Fla. serving the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. beach resort area with scheduled dinner cruises and special event charters.
The 125 by 26-ft. luxury yacht was built by Freeport Shipbuilding Group, Freeport, Fla. The shipyard and SunQuest are both headed by Jim Murray
, whose shipyard has been active in Florida
for 30 years. Murray, his wife Gail
, son James and daughter Colette are managing the vessel.
Named Solaris, the charter yacht is a Subchapter T vessel with a capacity for 149 passengers and a crew of 25. DeJong & Lebet, naval architects of Jacksonville, Fla supplied structural, weight and stability drawings and calculations for Solaris. The stability letter allows for total vessel passenger/crew capacity on any single deck. "This is a great asset for weddings or other charter events where most of the passengers and many of the serving staff may be on a single deck," Lebet said.
The vessel is powered by a pair of 300 hp caterpillar 3406 engines with twin Caterpillar 3056 engines connected to 63 kW generators. Twin Disc gears and 36-inch diameter with 37-in. pitch complete the propulsion package.
The $2 million vessel is laid out with a main deck cabin capable of seating 124 diners at tables of six and four. The galley is aft of the main dining area along with rest rooms. The second deck has the pilothouse forward with additional enclosed dining space, if needed. The second deck is dominated by a large "u" shaped bar and there is covered, but otherwise open space aft of the enclosed area. The top deck is open and it features a raised alter for weddings or the area can be used as a bandstand. The Solaris has a Bride's Changing Room on the second deck, a desirable amenity for charter vessels that book weddings. The Executive Chef is Tom Ford, a well-known local chef. Dinner cruises feature a choice of four entrees and Ford has received rave reviews for his innovative entrees and spectacular desserts.