Vava II

The Vava II sits near the Kodiak airport Sunday. (Mike Magee photo)

Kodiakans might have noticed a massive yacht anchored offshore. Its sleek design glistens thoughtfully visible from Deadman’s Curve and the Kodiak airport.

The white ship is actually the Vava II, a super-yacht commissioned by the Swiss-Italian billionaire entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli, who gave it to his wife, Miss U.K. Kirsty Roper, for her 40th birthday, British papers said.

According to yacht magazine, the yacht is the 33rd-largest in the world. It cost $160 million and is the largest privately owned yacht to be built in the United Kingdom.

At 314-feet, the Vava was “too big to fit in the harbor,” Lon White, the city’s harbormaster, told the Mirror.

“They did inquire about coming to a dock. We gave them a couple of options. I don’t know if they really intended to use the dock, I think they were just logistically planning ahead, but they would have ended up at Pier 2 or Pier 3. But we couldn’t accommodate them for the entire time they wanted to be here,” said White.

There were several reports that an expensive-looking Leer jet thought to be carrying the boat’s owners landed at Kodiak airport Monday. The plane had a Swiss flag on the tail.

The Vava II is built from steel with an aluminum superstructure. It can accommodate 36 guests, has a helicopter landing pad, a built-in dock, a large fold-down beach club, a variable depth swimming pool, a 40-foot launch and guest cabins.

“It’s exquisite all the way around… and a lot bigger than it looks from town,” White added.

Standard operating procedure for a celebrity-owned yacht like the Vava II includes the boat anchoring near Kodiak or in fishing grounds nearby. A hired crew gets the boat ready, the owner flies in in a private jet, lands at the airport and is picked up by the helicopter and taken to the boat.

White estimates that Kodiak gets around a half-dozen yachts in the 80-feet to 180-feet length.

“The last time we had a yacht that size in was several years ago and I heard it was Rupert Murdoch… They actually had armed guards out there. It was a steel hull -- much more utilitarian looking. This is a prettier boat by far,” White said.

Another celebrity who came to town in his yacht relatively recently was Mel Gibson, who like the rest of the stars flew in and boated out.

“I don’t know all the celebrities,” White said. “They keep that stuff hush-hush a lot. Personally I don’t get caught up in that celebrity chasing. I make my services available, and if there’s anything I can do I do it, but I don’t encroach on their private space at all.”

Kodiak can accommodate smaller ships. White reports that the largest ship fit into the harbor was 240-feet long.

“We have some of the biggest moorage facilities on floats anywhere in the state. Consequently we have facilities that are pretty nice for big yachts,” he said.

Contact Peter J. Mladineo at

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