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61′ Stephens Bros. Motoryacht
WB No. 229

VIDA MIA, Stephens Bros. Motoryacht
VIDA MIA, Stephens Bros. Motoryacht

VIDA MIA (the name she has always carried) was originally built for W.V.B. Campbell of Pebble Beach, California, and registered in San Francisco. Of the 14 yachts that Stephens Bros. in Stockton built in 1929, she was the largest and considered sufficiently noteworthy for Pacific Motor Boat to feature her in its December issue, concluding, “VIDA MIA is unquestionably one of the finest medium size Diesel cruisers of this year.”

Now, despite her increasingly shabby appearance, she’s still a head-turner. (I really like that stately raised pilothouse.) Under a variety of owners, this vessel’s occupation was taking tourists sightseeing out of Kewalo Basin Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is still berthed in the harbor, which is right downtown, only 7 miles from Honolulu International Airport. She was abandoned by her last owners, RJMSTRAT2 LLC, in 2009 and has lain idle without maintenance since then, and her U.S. Coast Guard passenger-carrying certificate has expired. With unpaid dockage charges mounting, Kewalo Basin is in the process of taking her over.

Luckily, VIDA MIA still has a friend in harbor manager Charles Barclay, who has kept her afloat and says that for the right buyer the unpaid bills would be negotiable. Here’s what he says about the yacht’s recent past and present condition: “In February 2010, the vessel exited the harbor under her own power…to avoid a tsunami as it approached the islands. In March 2010, the bow chocks were  ripped out by a large southerly swell while at its mooring. These chocks are believed to be in 10–15′ of water below the vessel. Since fall of 2010, we have had the bottom cleaned every four months. In December 2011, and again in March 2012, we used splash-zone epoxy to fill worm holes that were believed to be the source of leaks. Currently, the vessel requires pumping once per week to stay near her lines. Leaks in the deck and cabin exist. There is an oil or fuel spill in the bilge which we have been using absorbent materials on.”

There’s a two-year-old, in-the-water survey that includes a bottom inspection done by a diver. In his words, “I was pleasantly surprised that the condition of the hull was still so good after sitting without attention for so long.” I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if once this old girl is opened up she’ll reveal serious deficiencies in need of correcting. An attractive option would be to gather a crew and do the work in sunny Hawaii. Alternatively, shipping her someplace with a facility specializing in such restorations would be worth considering. Either way, I believe this largely original, finely built yacht would be a worthwhile classic to restore.

For more information, contact Charles Barclay, 1125 B-1 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814; kbh.harbormaster at; 808–587–1849.

See also Barry J. Ward’s book, Stephens Bros: Boat Builders and Designers, Stockton, California, published in 2002 by the Haggin Museum of Stockton.