NEWBURYPORT — The Bella Vita, a 197-foot yacht costing upward of $60 million, drew wide eyes and big smiles from hundreds of people along the city’s central waterfront Tuesday morning as it slowly maneuvered itself alongside the city’s public dock.
It was an arrival a month in the making, according to Harbormaster Paul Hogg, who said it took plenty of coordination, great weather and a high tide to ensure a successful arrival. It also took two harbormaster boats and several additional dockhands to guide the massive vessel into the mouth of the Merrimack River and to the docks.
“There was a lot of planning. You just don’t show up,” Hogg said, moments after texting Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday about the boat’s safe arrival.
The Lurssen-built yacht is owned by Dwight Schar, who founded NVR Inc. in 1980. NVHomes, as it is more commonly known, is one of the largest homebuilders in the country with a presence in 14 states in the eastern U.S.
Schar was a minority owner of the Washington Football Team until recently and has served as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman. In 2010, Forbes magazine listed him as the 937th wealthiest person in the country.
With a crew of up to 20, the Bella Vita (”Beautiful life” in Italian) can accommodate 12 passengers, each with their own stateroom. The Cayman Islands-registered vessel also has room for two 24-foot tenders and other aquatic toys.
“It’s a little more than I need,” Barry Cosser of Haverhill said shortly after the yacht’s arrival.
Cosser and his wife, Kathy, were among the passersby who took a few moments to marvel at the yacht’s size and take photos. Its considerable girth and height made capturing its enormity difficult using a standard cellphone.
“It’s gorgeous,” she exclaimed.
Hogg said the Bella Vita is the largest craft to visit Newburyport’s waterfront in his career, besting the previous record holder: the 140-foot Lady Gayle Marie. That yacht, formerly the property of late New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, visited Newburyport four years ago.
With a daily docking fee of $5 per foot, it will cost $1,000 a day for the boat to tie up. But considering it costs up to $6,000 per week to maintain the floating boutique hotel, the cost would appear to be insignificant.
What isn’t significant is the positive effect it will have for Newburyport until its planned departure Saturday, according to Hogg.
“It creates a good buzz,” Hogg said. “Anything like this is good for the city. Look at this crowd and the fact that they came to Newburyport,” he said, referring to the Bella Vita crew.
A crew member who identified himself as captain declined to comment when approached by a Daily News reporter.