NEWBURYPORT – Since it arrived Saturday, a 112-foot yacht docked along the city’s waterfront has drawn plenty of attention, partly because of the Donald Trump flags flapping from the top deck and partly for where the boat came from: Marco Island, Florida.
The Everglade, a Westport owned by Merrimac resident Dan Healey, was one of three yachts from Florida that tied up along the boardwalk over the weekend.
The other two, Hatt-A-Tude from Lighthouse Point and Encore from Palm Beach, arrived about the same time. Encore left Newburyport on Tuesday night, according to an Everglade crew member.
Their arrival led to questions about how the city was enforcing Gov. Charlie Baker’s mandate that anyone traveling from Florida and anywhere other than the Northeast must self-quarantine for 14 days. Baker’s order, an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, went into effect July 1.
Newburyport Harbormaster Paul Hogg said boat owners are given a copy of the state’s guidelines when they make a reservation for public dock space. The handout given to renters reads, “Your compliance is expected.”
But Hogg acknowledged there is no law on the books that made the guidelines enforceable.
Mayor Donna Holaday’s chief of staff, Matt Coogan, said her office has not received any complaints from residents worried if passengers are adhering to Baker’s guidelines.
“It hasn’t got to our level,” Coogan said.
Hogg said because of the coronavirus, there has been a sharp decline in out-of-state arrivals this summer.
“Especially now because of all the rules, people are nervous,” Hogg said.
But local boating traffic remains as busy as ever with weekends especially packed.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Hogg said.
Healey, who co-founded Arc Technologies in Amesbury but has since sold the business, said he picked up the Everglade on Marco Island on May 25 and spent the next several weeks sailing up the coast.
Along the way, he stopped at Montauk on the tip of Long Island, Block Island and Newport, Rhode Island, and then spent a few weeks in Massachusetts before docking in Newburyport.
“We are totally abiding,” Healey said, referring to Baker’s order.
In October, Healey purchased Larry’s Marina in Amesbury for $1.84 million, according to the Essex County Registry of Deeds. He renamed it The Marina at Amesbury Point shortly after the sale, and has plans to develop a restaurant and make other improvements to the riverfront property.
Healey said he timed his visit to coincide with the city’s annual Yankee Homecoming. But even after learning the event was canceled due to coronavirus fears, he decided to make the journey regardless. He is expected to leave Newburyport on Aug. 3.
The Everglade was built in 2008 but has only belonged to Healey for about a year. It features a crew of four and is great for exploring the coast, he said.
Reaction to his yacht has been mixed. The two Trump flags – including one that declares “Trump 2020 — No More Bulls—” — have drawn comments from both sides of the political aisle.
On Wednesday morning, a jogger was overheard calling the yacht’s owner a “(expletive) moron” as he ran past.
A few minutes, later another man gave a thumbs up and said he loved the flags. In general, however, Healey and his personal assistant, Victoria Millar, said they have received more positive reactions than negative.
Healey insisted he is not trying to make a political statement, but acknowledged he enjoyed the attention that not only his flags but his vessel have received.
Millar put it another way: “We’re promoting fun for people.”
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.