Superyacht's eco footprint trimmed to cost far less

A Silicon Valley inventor's superyacht is back to its eco-friendliest after a refit in Auckland. Ethereal, designed by New Zealander Ron Holland, has been renovated at Orams Marine.

The 58m yacht's co-owner, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, told the Herald on Sunday Ethereal emerged from a brainstorming session with industry experts and academics. "There was nobody to copy," Joy said.

Joy wanted to minimise the boat's resource use and ecological footprint in propulsion, "habitat" and electricity. Ethereal uses a high-pressure, reverse osmosis-based desalination machine for producing water.

Joy said the New Zealand designer gave the yacht a sleek profile. "We made the boat a little longer because that makes it have less resistance in the water."


The eco-friendly focus didn't eliminate luxury or speed. A 3m Olympic diving board extends from a concealed niche. The yacht has a push-button controlled, hydraulically-operated crow's nest.

A dynamic positioning system lets the yacht synchronise its engines, rudder and thrusters to maintain a fixed position, and Ethereal can easily reach speeds of 17 knots.

It can run on energy stored in a battery bank for hours, eliminating noise, vibration and exhaust smoke. "The benefit of all this is a much more pleasant environment," Joy said.

The boat is used as a meeting place for political leaders and for people to discuss major environmental and social issues.

Joy's wife, Shannon O'Leary Joy, has worked for environmental groups and is especially passionate about protecting marine life.

Bill Joy said he was last here in December and visited the Poor Knights Islands. He hoped to return to New Zealand soon.

The yacht's captain, Andrew Barry, said the crew had enjoyed their stay in Auckland. "All the services close to hand, in one concentrated area, make it really appealing." he said.

The boat sails to warmer climes around April 8.

Maintenance workers have also given the superyacht CaryAli a scrub-up this month. Cranes were brought in to manoeuvre workers around the 39m yacht. Alloy Yachts launched CaryAli in October. The boat is understood to have North American owners.