At this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, one of the standout yachts was the 56m My Seanna, which had just arrived from Rybovich where she’d undergone a remarkable 18-month rebuild that included a 7.6m hull extension.

Perched front-row centre across from the Burgess tent, the yacht attracted plenty of attention, in no small part due to the chopper perched on her helideck aft, but also due to the open beach club on the transom and the apparent activity of potential charter customers and brokers being given tours aboard.

I hopped aboard for a quick run through and found a yacht that had been thoroughly and completely redesigned from the keel up to be a pure charter machine.

Joseph Leone, the owner’s representative ran the rebuild project, and spoke to me about his thinking and his approach to the yard.

““It was a pretty unique project: It was a very studied thing,” Leone, who has also built the owner’s spectacular house in Florida says.

“I asked a lot of brokers for sale and charter when they came aboard what they would change or add; I wanted to know where they thought the yacht had weaknesses and what they saw as her strengths,” he says.

It was a process he conducted slowly, letting comments and insights come in over the course of a year, gathering honest insights and opinions to help formulate a plan for what we were going to do next.”

The form of the yacht was good: she’s a Delta and had been built to exceptional standards. Leone felt strongly that though the owner wanted a new boat, he should keep the Delta and undertake a significant refit—or as he now refers to it, a rebuild.

“We decided the only way to make this work was to set ourselves the goal of making her the best possible yacht for charter,” Leone says.

Once he had the owner’s approval, Leone started to work on the design he envisioned for the rebuilt yacht. 

Key to the rebuild was the extension: by adding nearly 8m to the hull, she could then accommodate one of the most requested features from charter brokers: a beach club.

It also allowed the upper deck to be extended so that it could include a touch-and-go helipad (though it’s not commercially-certified).

Other features include the cutting edge AV system which includes a “movie night under the stars” featuring an enormous outdoor film screen on the sun deck and an underwater camera whose picture can be seen on the TV.

“I think business in the yachting industry needs to change a little bit. For years, brokers who sell the yachts and captains who run the yachts have been given the role of managing the refits, but what I do is a different specialty,” Leone says.

“I don’t know how to drive the boat, so I would never let a captain hand me the controls; when everyone stays with the role they’re good at, you get success—and my role is running the business of contracting the works to get the finished product,” he says.

Leone insists that minor refits and refresh works are a different business, but for the scope of works he undertook for My Seanna, a dedicated specialist project manager whom the owner trusts is fundamental to success.

“I can’t work with somebody who wants to control me,” Leone says, referring to the depth of the trust that lies between himself and his owner.

The result of the trust was a rebuild project that Leone says has not only saved the owner significant money because of how the costs were controlled, but also enabled him to have what is effectively a new yacht for about a third of what it would have cost to buy a new one.

"That's the beauty of this story: He loves this yacht—what we've done is give him a new version of what he already adores, and at the same time, build something that is going to work for him as a charter business... everyone wins," Leone says.

My Seanna is available for charter now, and is currently at the Antigua Charter Show.