The $50 million-plus Hemisphere is close to becoming the first foreign-flagged vessel permitted to offer charters in Australian waters after the Federal Government agreed to relax previously stringent rules.

The four-year-old vessel is currently at BSE Cairns Slipways, where three generator sets are being installed during a month-long job worth about $150,000.

Captain Gavin Bladen is hoping that in a few weeks he will be able to start $425,000-a-week charters in Great Barrier Reef waters from Cairns before the 44.2m vessel sails to Asia.

“We are hoping we will be the poster child … the first (foreign-flagged vessel) to be granted them (charter rights),” he said.

TOP DECK: Captain Gavin Bladen is thrilled the huge luxury catamaran Hemisphere will soon

Capt Bladen said wealthy clients wanted to charter Hemisphere for dive trips on the Reef and to sail around the Whitsundays.

He has been involved with the vessel since its inception, design and build 11 years ago. It is owned by a retired American businessman and registered in the Cayman Islands.

For Capt Bladen, the visit to Cairns is full circle.

“I was here 23 years ago as a backpacker, learning to dive,” he said. “Hemisphere is regarded as the best diving yacht in the world.”

Launched in 2011, the boat was designed by renowned naval architects Van Peteghem Lauriot Prévost and built by Pendennis Shipyard (UK) with the interior fitout by Metrica Interior (Germany).

LUXURY A look inside the $50 million-plus catamaran Hemisphere. PIC: SUPPLIED
Hemisphere
hemisphere-yacht-17
Sailing-yacht-Hemisphere-Exterior

Capt Bladen said the intention was for the vessel to spend a few weeks a year in Australia for charter work for the wealthy and celebrities, but he would not be drawn on the famous names.

BSE Cairns Slipways’ customer service manager Brian Keller said the company was pleased to secure the work for their staff and facilities.

Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef chairman Matt Templeton said Hemisphere was a perfect example of how changes to federal rules would open up the region’s waters to some of the best luxury super yachts in the world.

Today the super yacht group will host a dock party for the captains and crews of six super yachts in Cairns, including Serenity, Serenity J, Aquamarina, Two Angels and the luxury game fishing boat Norby.

@http://www.cairnspost.com.au/