Palmer Johnson launches new yacht

STURGEON BAY – It’s looks like it’s part race car, and part space ship.

The latest multi-million dollar vessel from shipbuilder Palmer Johnson Yachts is now in the waters of Sturgeon Bay.

A slow-moving escort guided the 150-foot long yacht in the Sturgeon Bay shipping channel Tuesday morning.

The Palmer Johnson 48M SuperSport is the first of its kind. Designer Berkeley March says the hull and superstructure are made from carbon composite.

“Basically it helps us reduce the structural weight by two thirds. So it’s a third of what a conventional hull would weigh. So that helps us reduce the power needed to push it through the water,” said March, Palmer Johnson Yachts Head of Design.

The high-tech ship is built for speed, topping out at 32 knots, or about 36 miles per hour.

There are three decks, and room for 12 passengers and nine crew.

“All the openings on the structure, all the openings on the inside areas, allows direct contact with the sea,” said Valentina Nacinovich, Project Manager.

The Palmer Johnson 48M SuperSport yacht on the water in Sturgeon Bay.
The Palmer Johnson 48M SuperSport yacht in Sturgeon Bay. (Eric Peterson/WLUK)

200 workers spent the past year and a half building the ship. Company president Mike Kelsey says the yacht is an example of buyer confidence in the market.

“It wasn’t just that money seemed to dry up. There was a psychology that spending a lot of money was a bad thing. People started getting away from that now, and starting to relax a little bit,” said Kelsey, Palmer Johnson Yachts President.

“Every dollar of local wages, gets turned around at least three to five times within the local economy. So those shipbuilders who are making very good money, year-round job opportunities, are spending those dollars here in our local economy, and supporting our local businesses,” said Sam Perlman, Door County Economic Development Corporation.

And as the yacht makes it under the Michigan Street Bridge, Palmer Johnson officials say they can breathe a sigh of relief.

“I think it will do what it is supposed to do. So I am very confident that we’ll have a superior product out there,” said March.

The yacht will be tested at the Centerpoint Marina dock before heading to the Mediterranean Sea in the coming weeks.

Without being specific, Palmer Johnson said the cost is in the tens of millions of dollars.

The company says it recently signed more yacht contracts and plans to hire more workers.

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