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Written by CAROL POMEDAY   
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 16:09

Here’s your chance – only $4.9 million

    When a 130-foot, three-story super yacht docks in Port Washington, people take notice.

    The sleek white Tranquility, which is on the market for $4.9 million, has been docked along the north wall of the north slip marina since it pulled into the harbor on Fish Day, July 20. It could remain there all year, although owner Tom Weickardt of Whitefish Bay hopes it sells before then.


    Weickardt said he and his wife Linda are living on Tranquility temporarily while he oversees clean-up and repairs so the yacht is worthy of his asking price. Several potential buyers have sent inspectors to examine and test drive the boat.


    Weickardt said he and his partners bought the yacht in 2006 for a luxury charter cruise business.

    “I had gone on a chartered cruise the previous year, really liked it and thought it would be a good business,” Weickardt said. “This boat was one of the most successful charter boats out there before I bought it. It was chartered for cruises to the Caribbean during winters and the eastern Atlantic seaboard in summers.

    “It was the worst financial investment I made.”


    The partners bought the yacht, which was built in 1995, for $5 million, then spent $3 million upgrading it for the comfort of customers who could afford to pay $100,000 for week-long cruises.


    “We were doing well the first year, then the financial crisis hit and you couldn’t charter anything,” Weickardt said. “The market disappeared. We tried to hang on.”


    Tranquility, which is registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for its tax benefits and was formerly based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was put on the market about four years ago.


    After hiring two capable captains who left to take jobs with boats that weren’t for sale, Weickardt said he decided to move Tranquility to Wisconsin so he could oversee repairs and maintenance himself.


    That’s why he’s now living on the yacht and staying up late at night cleaning the engine with a toothbrush.


    “They do a good job cleaning the boat, but nobody thinks to clean the engine and that’s the first thing buyers want to see,” Weickardt said.


    He demands that same level of meticulous attention from his employees.


    When Danny Macek, who graduated from Port Washington High School in June, couldn’t find a glass cleaner to clean windows, Weickardt told him to use a vinegar-water mix of four to one, then stopped him several times to point out smudges.


    “If you can still see smudges, why bother cleaning it?” he asked Macek, then added, “When do you want to get paid?”


    “I figured I would clean for free today because I screwed up so much yesterday,” Macek said, adding he dropped something in the water.


    “You aren’t working for free,” Weickardt said. “I’m paying you for every hour you work. If you dropped something, it’s my responsibility to absorb the cost, not yours. Don’t undervalue your work.”


    When told a potential buyer was coming Sunday, Macek said he would clean the windows again Saturday night.        “That’s why I like being in Port Washington. You don’t find a work ethic like that anywhere but in the Midwest,” Weickardt said.


    “I don’t have the breadth of people experienced with yachts here, but there are a lot of skilled people experienced with motorboats and they use those skills to get the job done right. They’re honest and fair and work hard.”


    Weickardt said he grew up in Milwaukee in a large, lower-middle-class family in a small house.


    He left home when he was in his mid-20s and worked in sales before starting his own business 25 years ago.


    “We manufactured surge protectors for computers before people knew they needed surge protectors. We helped change that attitude. It was a very narrow marketplace, and we did well,” Weickardt said.


    He invested in several businesses with partners and became a race-car driver, mostly with Le Mans series cars, from 1999 to 2006 and again in 2010.


    His instinct for good business opportunities hit a bad economy in Tranquility, Weickardt said. Just as house values took a hit, so too did boat values, especially luxury cruisers.


    “It’s a good value for a boat this size,” Weickardt said of his asking price.


    The main deck, which is decorated in earth tones with red and gold accents, has a large gathering space and dining area, as well as the galley and owner’s suite.


    The owner’s suite features a king-size bed, his-and-her closets and separate bathrooms joined by a glass-enclosed shower.


    A carpeted spiral staircase to the lower level leads to four staterooms for guests. All rooms have full baths and televisions that get reception from a satellite dish.


    The staircase also leads to the upper-level sky lounge and the pilothouse and its array of navigational equipment.


    The lounge features a large enclosed bar room decorated in Caribbean style with two sleeper sofas. Glass doors lead to the open deck with a dining area, gas grill, jacuzzi, exercise equipment and lots of toys, including two personal water crafts, paddle boards, kayaks and a rigid inflatable tender.


    The crew’s quarters are beneath the main galley. The captain’s quarters has a double bed. The rest of the crew squeezes into two rooms with three bunks each. There is also a small galley for the crew.


    “The crew really works hard on a cruise,” Weickardt said, serving guests and organizing activities.


    Weickardt said he chose the Port Washington Marina because he wanted the boat close to his home and his latest business venture, the River Club, formerly Mequon Country Club, in the Villa du Parc subdivision. He renovated the golf course and clubhouse and is gearing memberships to families. He also opened the restaurant to the public.


    Both the River Club and Tranquility need his attention now, he said.


    Weickardt said he’s been fortunate to be in a position to take such risks, but questions if he’s successful based on his standards.


    “My entrepreneurial spirit has worked out OK,” he said. “What is success anyway? Is it money? That’s the way most people judge it.


    “For me, it’s the father who raises his kids in the right way. It’s the policemen and firemen who do their jobs. Those are the successful people.


    “Me? I’ve just been lucky. I think a lot of financial success is being in the right place at the right time and making the right choices. In some cases, it’s like betting on black or red. I was just fortunate.”

 


 

Image Information: Owner Tom Weickardt stood in front of the Tranquility moored in the north slip of the Port Washington Marina (top photo). The pilothouse’s array of navigational equipment (bottom left photo) is on the upper level, which also features an enclosed sky lounge (bottom right photo).    Photos by Sam Arendt

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