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‘Magical’ estate: Merrilyn Bardes

Wednesday 10 December 2014 - Filed under Luxury

Built in the late 1920s and little altered since, the estate captures the grandeur and whimsy of its era.

Architect Marion Sims Wyeth set the front door into an elaborate stone frontispiece with a stepped-back arch and a Juliet -style railed balcony above it. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The historic architecture and the natural light — especially the way sunshine filters through the original stained-glass windows — are as special as they are lovely, said Merrilyn Bardes about her historic estate at 196 Banyan Road.

“I thought the house was magical when I bought it in 1998, and I still think it’s magical,” she said.

Designed by noted society architects John Volk and Gustav Maass for owner Harry Thomas, the 1929 Mediterranean-style house stands on a prime Estate Section street, and exemplifies the fanciful and elaborate homes of its era.

Just look at the report prepared before the house was granted landmark-protection status by the town in 1979. It aptly describes the house as a product of its time, a “unique example of the economic and social atmosphere during the Boom Time era of the 1920s. It was constructed after the hurricanes of 1926 and 1928, and just as the financial collapse of 1929 began. It represents one of the last ornate and expensive estates to be built in Palm Beach.”

At 196 Banyan Road, the landmarked home's two wings flank multiple outdoor terraces that were built by homeowner Merilynn Bardes. Landscape architect Mario Nievera, today of Nivera Williams Design, created the hardscape plan, while Bardes chose the plants. The house is listed for sale at $14.5 million through Sotheby s International Realty. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

In the ocean block at the corner of South County Road, the main part of the L-shaped house fronts Banyan Road, while the more utilitarian rooms and garage run along County Road. Along the back of the house are loggias and terraces descending to a pool, which is set amid lush tropical landscaping.

Because Bardes has downsized, her four-story, seven-bedroom, 10-bathroom, three-half-bath home with a tower, staff rooms and 13,077 square feet of living space, inside and out, has been offered for sale. Sotheby’s International Realty agents Cristina Condon and Todd Peter have set a price of $14.5 million.

Much is original

Like many architects of the era, Volk not only had a hand in the architecture but also in selecting the furnishings, according to John L. Volk, Palm Beach Architect, a book compiled by the Volk family.

Visitors pass through the front door into a small foyer and then into the main hallway, where an arched passageway pierces the staircase and leads to the rear loggia. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

“Volk traveled to Spain to find the furnishings, tiles, rugs and decorative materials for the house. A coffered ceiling was created from one small portion Volk found in a palace in Salamanca. He took the section and had it duplicated to create enough individual sections to cover the entire drawing-room ceiling. The decorative tiles for the stairways and bathrooms came from Seville and Barcelona.”

Adding to the history of the house, Bardes mentions that the late H. Loy Anderson was a former owner — followed by two more owners — before she purchased it in 1998. She has left the house mostly unchanged, except for the family room.

“It was a breakfast room and bar divided by pocket doors,” she said. “I redid them to be one big family room.”

She used pecky-cypress paneling and tile flooring, which blends with the original Cuban tile used on the first floor of the home.

“The Volk book will also tell you that the materials that he used cannot be reproduced today,” she said. “You can’t find Cuban tiles anymore, and nobody can make stained glass and the cast stone like this house has.”

Some of the stone details she’s referring to include elements adorning the stucco facades: a decorative frontispiece, with an arched door and a “Juliet”-style balcony above it, and a handsome stone cornice that embellishes the roof line.

Cinquefoil arched windows fitted with leaded glass create a romantic play of light in the foyer, living room, and dining-room gallery. Other architectural elements in the public areas include intricate ceilings, a carved-stone fireplace and crown moldings.

All in the details

A romantic double staircase with colorful tile risers greets visitors as they arrive from the foyer.

“The wrought-iron on the double staircase is one of my favorite things about the house,” Bardes said. “On the landing, you look through a basket of flowers made of wrought iron.”

With twin flights of stairs, a grand staircase greets visitors to the house. The living room can be seen at the rear left. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The home was made for entertaining, she noted, and it was a breeze to decorate.

“So much of my furniture that I’ve had forever — it just walked in, found a place to live and was happy,” she said.

Gothic-style arches with cinquefoil details adorn a wall in the stately dining room, which is large enough to seat 12 or even more comfortably. The Cuban-tile floors are original. Photo by Andy Frame, courtesy of Sotheby s International Realty

The master bedroom and bathroom are above the living room and loggia, and open to a broad second-floor terrace that wraps around the outside of the staircase landing.

“The master bathroom has the most beautiful pair of Art Deco sinks, with all the original brass knobs and spouts,” she said. “They are just perfect, and the tile is cobalt blue. It is magnificent. The whole tub area is beautifully tiled and the floor has terra cotta tiles, inset with tiles that have medieval hunting scenes. The ceiling is pretty — arched with rounded beams — and the windows facing Banyan have the same stained glass as downstairs.”

Elaborate gardens

By the time she bought the property, the grounds needed work, and it was in this area that she worked her own breed of magic. A longtime member of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, she chose tropical plant materials and commissioned landscape architect Mario Nievera to design the hardscape.

“The house sits on almost an acre, and Volk had designed a beautiful fountain with tiles that came from Spain. But it was all long gone by the time I bought the house,” she said. “Now, there are steps that go down to the swimming pool, which is kind of surprise, since it can’t be seen from the main terrace.

“The landscaping sort of fell into place. Choosing a tree is like choosing a dress. You have to love it, and that’s kind of the way I garden.

“It’s definitely a tropical garden, with many species of palms. I have quite a few cycads, a fabulous Queen Fego palm, and a pink rain tree, Albizia Saman, that covers the terrace. I have my coveted Lady of the Night, which is a heavily scented plant, outside my kitchen door and another outside my family room door.

Other plants include a big gardenia, specimen hybrid hibiscus, an all-spice tree, bay-rum tree and bougainvillea — all of which have provided a lush backdrop for the outdoor parties and fundraisers she has hosted at the estate.

Written for the Palm Beach Daily News, May 2014

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-12-10  ::  Christine

Discover Local Artists: gone to the dogs

Thursday 11 September 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

A new exhibit that promises to warm the hearts of dog lovers opens Sept. 16 at the Art Gallery at Eissey Campus at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens.

“Bark,” an all-dog exhibit, features the photographs, sculptures and paintings of Palm Beach County artists Durga Garcia, Victoria R. Martin and Nancy Spielman. The exhibition opens Sept. 16 with a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and continues through Oct. 17. Both the reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Nancy Spielman

“This body of work is to celebrate the comfort, joy, happiness and fun that dogs bring to our lives,’’ Nancy Spielman said. “My very first dog, Charlie,  has affected my life in a way I never dreamed would happen. A yellow lab—I call him Handsome Man— is my inspiration to paint these lovable friends.”

"Happy to See Me" by Nancy Spielman

Spielman takes photos of canines and uses them as a reference for her paintings. “I strive to heighten and improve the photographic model through the use of oil paint, elements of design and especially color.”

Durga Garcia

Durga Garcia, a conceptual photographer of fine art and commissioned portraits, will exhibit a portrait collection of working dogs. “Each conveys not only their handsome beauty and personality, but also their intelligence and alertness necessary for their various jobs,’’ she said.

For years, Garcia raised and worked Jack Russell Terriers in England. Now she handles the first year of training for guide dogs. A young guide dog is often seen with her during photo-shoots, events or lectures.

"Maggie" by Durga Garcia

Victoria Rose Martin

Victoria Rose Martin, a PBSC art professor, builds her sculptural forms by hand using low-fire clay. She says that is why no two figures will ever be exactly the same.

"Yellow Dog Rocker" by Victoria Martin

The surfaces are decorated with stamped words and a variety of finishes, including oxides, underglaze and glaze.

The art, ranging from $200 to $600, will be available for sale. Each artist will donate 20 percent of any sales to Furry Friends, a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter or Canine Assisted Therapy (C.A.T.), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing pet therapy to children and adults who have developmental and physical challenges as well as those who desire comfort and companionship of a loving pet.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located on the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit the website at: www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg.

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2 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-09-11  ::  Christine

Discover Local Arts: Carin Wagner and Yvonne Parker

Thursday 8 May 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

Palm Beach State College’s Art Gallery at Eissey Campus showcases works by Carin Wagner and Yvonne Parker in an exhibit, “The Nature of Impermanence,” from May 13 through September 5. The opening reception is at 5:30 p.m. May 13. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Carin Wagner

Wagner’s paintings allude to the cycles of life and that nature and individuals are in a constant state of evolution and renewal. “Most of us are going along in our little world and don’t understand how fragile our environment is or how to protect it,” said Wagner.

Wagner records small moments in nature in order to  share its peace. In her studio, she lays down many thin glazes of oil paint to create luminous deep surfaces on the canvas, to evoke the fragility of the natural world.

'Shelter' by Wagner, oil on canvas, 54 by 84 inches, $20,000

'A Dead Trees Grow No New Leaves II' by Wagner, oil on Canvas, 30 by30 inches, $6,500

“From a glade filled with ferns golden in the evening light to a tiny flower blazing with fleeting glory, as time went by I realized how fragile all of this beauty was and felt I needed to protect it. I decided to paint my favorite trees- some towering in the midst of a storm, others quiet in moonlight- in the hopes that they would arouse the same protective spirit in others.”

Yvonne Parker

Parker’s sculptures are about rediscovering elements of the past in order to create a vision of a more positive future. “Preserving time gone bye, by incorporating vintage or historic materials in my work, is my way of dealing with transformation and change,” she says.

“We live in a world of constant change, chaos, illness, disaster and loss. I want to create art to hold on to the beautiful memories of the past, while embracing the present and looking confident into the future.”

'Celebration' by Parker, mixed media 25 by 17 by 14 inches, $8,900

'Price for Memories' by Parker, mixed media 20 by 20 inches, $3,700

The exhibit takes place in partnership with the Friends of MacArthur Beach State Park. A percentage of proceeds from the sale of Wagner’s art will benefit the Friends’ environmental-education programs for underserved students. Sculptures, prints and large oil paintings will be on sale with prices ranging from $150 to $30,000. During the opening reception, the first 60 guests will receive black ironwood tree seedlings.

Summer gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information, call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg.

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2 comments  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-05-08  ::  Christine

Discover Local Artists at Palm Beach State College

Saturday 12 April 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus at Palm Beach State College holds its annual juried student art show, the 28th Annual Student Art Exhibition now through May 7. The variety of work reflects the many art disciplines offered at the college: ceramics, digital and traditional photography, drawing, life drawing, applied and digital design and painting. Featuring 160 pieces in the exhibition, much of the art is available for purchase, with prices ranging from $20 to $1,000.

Kayla Morrill entered the world of photography with her struggles and pains clutched tightly to her chest and she used the lens of her camera to examine them from every angle, she said. “I spent years posing models to reflect the insecurities, the longings and the dreams that I was feeling at the time. One of the reasons I love Gloss and the other pictures in the Headless series is that they don’t, in fact, mean anything personal to me. It’s a sign of my own progress that I am finally able to look out at the world instead of always looking in.”

Gloss by Kayla Morrill

Carla Gia Larosa, from New York City, studied art and design at F.I.T. She moved to Palm Beach County five years ago and decided to go back to college. “There I discovered the wonderful world of ceramic arts. I am fascinated by pre-Colombian art and it has been my greatest influence,” she said.

Finding Lella by Carla Gia Larosa

Talya Lerman, this year’s curator of the show, graduated with a Bachelors in business administration, management from Northwood University. She is currently the director of education at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach. Previously, she was the tour and volunteer coordinator at the Norton Museum of Art and the director of public programs for the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art. Both as an independent curator as well as affiliated with local non-profits, Lerman has been heavily involved in the South Florida art scene for over two decades.

Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Art Gallery at Eissey Campus is located in the first floor of the BB building, 3160 PGA Blvd. For more information, call the gallery at 561-207-5015 or visit http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/artgallerypbg/current-exhibition.aspx

 

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-04-12  ::  Christine

Helicopter: serious sea toy

Sunday 16 March 2014 - Filed under Luxury

Do you hate expressways and trips to the airport? Do you like to hover?

Then you might really like owning a helicopter.

Let’s talk about the LongRanger, Bell Helicopter 206L4, which was shown at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show on the deck of the 190-foot yacht Mi Sueño (Spanish for “My Dream”).

“This one costs about $3 million,” said Anthony Moreland, managing director of Bell’s North America commercial business. Other models range from $1 million to $12 million.

The cabin of the LongRanger can hold the pilot and six passengers, with five seats in the back and two in front.

Features include a high-inertia, two-blade rotor system and a patented suspension system that delivers a smooth ride, club-seating configuration that allows for face-to-face conversation, and 61-inch doors that open wide for easy access to its 80-cubic-foot cabin.

It’s not necessary to go into decorative details, because the sky’s the limit. The helicopter “can be painted any color the customer wants,” Moreland said. “Sometimes they paint them to match their boats, planes and homes; and some people have a fleet, matching leathers and woods.”

And they are fast, safe and comfortable, he added. “They can go up to 10,000 feet, cruise at 125 to 130 knots (130 to 135 miles per hour), typically fly 300 to 400 miles, and, in an emergency, there’s still a lot of control. If there’s engine failure, they can still be landed very safely. An advantage over a plane — they don’t need forward motion, meaning there are more places for them to land.

“And they can hover.”

Bell International, an 80-year-old company, has its main location in Fort Worth, Texas, with independently owned service facilities all over the country. In the United States, Bell serves five types of clientele: offshore (e.g., flying people out to oil rigs), corporate, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and utility operators.

Individual customers, usually affluent people who are entrepreneurs, senior executives or retired senior executives, use them for flying themselves or their guests from their home to the airport, their businesses or to yachts, Moreland said, noting that he had fewer than 12 Palm Beach customers.

“This type of client I place in my corporate segment. They are a good business for us,” Moreland said.

Some of the owners have their pilot’s license; some don’t.

“Often, even if they are enthusiastic for aviation, they’ll have private pilots, or they have an arrangement with service providers who provide the pilot and the maintenance personnel, and we have a facility in north Fort Lauderdale,” he said.

Some yacht owners like to come back and forth, from boat to land, in a helicopter rather than a tender, Moreland added.

“They keep the helicopter in a hangar on land; a few have their own hangars. The owners come down in their airplane, get on the helicopter, get on the boat, and the helicopter goes back to the hangar. It can stay on the boat, which is under way, but the deck has to be designed so that you can secure the helicopter — that’s not ideal.”

Looks like helicopters prefer not to rock and roll.

Written for Palm Beach Daily News

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-03-16  ::  Christine

Rybovich services superyachts

Sunday 16 March 2014 - Filed under Luxury

It’s business before pleasure, even for floating pleasure crafts. With cruises headed for the Caribbean along with area boat shows, it’s full steam ahead for ocean-going yachts, South Florida and Rybovich.

“A very typical sequence: Many yachts come to our facility from the Mediterranean at the end of their summer season. They cross the Atlantic on their own or on a transport ship,” said Francois van Well, vice president of business development for Rybovich. “We do the maintenance, repair, paintwork, etc., in preparation for the boat shows or their cruising season.”

Or both. Take the 190-foot Mi Sueno, for example. Built by Trinity in 2010, the yacht that can accommodate up to 12 guests for charter is shipshape inside and out. With luxurious interiors designed by Patrick Knowles, amenities include Honduran mahogany, maple burl and wenge-wood finishes; an elevator; Jacuzzi; splash pool; garage for toys; and touch-and-go helicopter capability.

It’s also fast, said its captain Glynn Smith. “Along with our many special features, we also have a great capability to increase our cruising footprint. While most yachts cruise at 13 or 14 knots, we cruise at 17 knots. That means we can get to places quicker.”

Last fall, Mi Sueno came across the Atlantic in bad weather and had to stop in the Azores and Bermuda, which caused a week delay. Normally, it can run across the Atlantic in 12 days.

This meant a very fast turnover at Rybovich before the Fort Lauderdale boat show.

“Once we got to Rybovich after thrashing about in the ocean, we had to do a huge clean up, get the engines and generators serviced, and have the minor wear-and-tears repaired,” Smith said.

He and his crew unloaded the sundeck so that they could put the helicopter onboard, took part in the boat show, came back to Rybovich, reloaded the sundeck, provisioned the boat and left for a charter in The Bahamas. “Each time at Rybovich, it took us about 12 hours, and they worked through the night as well, because time was so short,” he said.

On the move

Over a year’s time, Rybovich sees between 30 to 50 ocean-going yachts (from 160 feet to 350 feet) making these kinds of turnarounds, van Well said.

“It’s a big part of our business,” he said. “A lot more man-hours are required on larger boats, and these clients have a limited availability to do their repairs because they are constantly on the move. They know their schedule and they tell us when their yacht has to depart, and we get the work done.”

If a boat has been at the Monaco boat show in September, it’s at Rybovich in October at the earliest. If not, it’s here mid-December in time for a Christmas cruise. Some turn right around Jan. 2 or 3 for spring cruises, and then they head back to Europe or New England in April and May for summer cruises, he explained.

This particular segment of business from the yachting world is new to West Palm Beach, van Well said.

“Large yachts are coming to us because we have the ability to facilitate and service them,” he said. “We bought the dry dock so that we can get large yachts out of the water, and we are continuing to invest toward building a larger facility in Riviera Beach to cater to these yachts, which can bring economic growth to our business and West Palm Beach.”

To make that happen, Rybovich is waiting for a permit to dredge. Also, Huizenga Holdings, the company that owns Rybovich, recently proposed to West Palm Beach a plan to develop a six-tower village on 14 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway. Already approved by the planning board, it will go to the city commission in February.

Now for the pleasure side, using Mi Sueno as an example again. The yacht, which currently is for sale and for charter through Worth Avenue Yachts in Palm Beach, uses South Florida as a base for its Caribbean charters and the boat shows.

It’s offered for sale for $36.95 million and to charter, the price is $300,000 a week in winter for The Bahamas and Caribbean tours, and its high-season summer rate in the Mediterranean is 325,000 euros, said Shannon McCoy, Worth Avenue Yacht’s head of business development.

“Glynn Smith has one of the best ‘can-do’ attitudes of anyone we’ve worked with, and his crew is young and energetic,” she said. “They are so fun, and they cover every detail. They go above and beyond, creating unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”

These months are great for cruises to the Virgin Islands, she said. Here’s her suggestion for an enjoyable outing: “The yacht picks up its clients at Yacht Haven Grand in St. Thomas. They cruise to Jost Vandyke, a small island in the British Virgin Islands. It’s fun to anchor out and go to the beach by tender and enjoy the local drink, Pain Killer, at the Soggy Dollar Bar (it’s named that because customers swim in). Then they can walk down the beach and watch a magic show performed by local islander, Seddey, who owns the One Love bar. For dinner that evening, it’s pleasant to visit Foxy, a restaurant that boaters made famous.”

Captain Smith, who hails from Southampton, England and now lives in Fort Lauderdale, especially enjoys his charters around Italy.

“We typically go to Capri and it’s only a seven- or eight-hour hop to Stromboli north of Sicily in the Aeolian Islands,” he said. “With a live volcano, Stromboli is an incredible island. In the evening, our guests watch it erupt while they eat dinner.

“Positano on the Amalfi Coast is absolutely stunning, and another beautiful area is the entrance to Bonifacio, Corsica, where our clients love going through the huge cliffs. It’s a fjord and we back in stern first all the way down about a mile.”

While Mi Sueno can accommodate a helicopter, not everyone charters one, he said. However, there are tenders and plenty of toys on board that his clients can enjoy: jet skis, WaveRunners, Seabobs, inflatables, skis, wakeboards, snorkel and dive gear, even a regulation basketball hoop.

“We did wakeboarding behind this boat down the coast off of Tuscany for a client. It was a spectacular day. Our client was an avid wake boarder, and I asked him if he wanted to do something really cool that nobody had done. We towed two people from 300-foot lines at 16 knots with a wake of 5-to-6-feet high. He loved it. That was one in a million, a magical day, with dolphins jumping in the wake. His face lit up.”

Concerning food, clients will have what they want. No exceptions. “There are no ‘I’m sorry, we can’t get it,’ ” Smith said. “A client might drop $20,000 in caviar, and one wanted to buy $70,000 of Cristal Champagne. Normally we get it in advance, but we will fly it in to make it happen.”

With 7,000 square feet of interior living space overall, on the main deck are a stunning main salon, wine cellar and elegant dining room with a table that can seat 14 guests comfortably.

The full-width, split-level owners’ cabin with 270 degrees of panoramic windows is forward on the main deck and includes a king bed, study, lounge and his-and-hers bathrooms.

Five en-suite staterooms on the lower deck include a full-width VIP king suite, two king staterooms, a wheelchair-accessible queen stateroom and a twin stateroom with a Pullman berth.

There are multiple conversation areas throughout, including three exterior living areas. The upper deck features a panoramic sky lounge with oversized windows and an air conditioned aft deck, and on the sundeck, which is touch-and-go helicopter-capable, are a workout area, bar, Jacuzzi and splash pool.

The crew accommodations support up to 14 crew in seven cabins, including the captain’s cabin aft of the pilot house.

The lower deck is laid out with a beach club/tender garage, the main machinery space, engineer’s cabin and additional crew cabin.

“The mantra of this yacht is ‘fun.’ It’s a toy, and there’s no hotel in the world that can match what we do,” Smith said.

Written for Palm Beach Daily News

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-03-16  ::  Christine

Found: giant squid and other deep-sea critters

Sunday 16 March 2014 - Filed under Other Places

Deep (limited only by the depth of your pocket). Dark (where sunlight fears to go). Cold (but air-conditioned and temperature-controlled).

Inhabited by creatures that few have ever seen, the ocean’s depths hold vast unknowns. Fortunately, a Vero Beach company, Triton Submarines, builds submersibles that make that world accessible to private owners.

A Triton’s sub — it looks like a big bubble on floaters — is small enough to be towed behind a yacht. But its main advantage is its 360 degrees of view, said Troy Engen, Triton’s pilot, head of operations and mechanical-systems specialist. “I used to drive subs with little tiny windows, and what you wanted to see seemed to be just around the corner.”

In Antarctica

When you scuba dive, it’s not about what you see directly in front of you; it’s about the surroundings, Engen said. “The Triton’s transparent hull has the same refraction as water. People put their hand out to where the water looks to be, because it’s like a window that just goes away. You feel kind of like a fish.”

You can go where no one has gone before, and you’ll see things no one has ever seen, he said. “We are diving to depths that scuba divers haven’t gone. Sport divers can go 130 feet, and we go far beyond that. A lot of creatures that we see at those depths, we’ll take photos and try to document them, show them to scientists.

“Corals, sponges, fish, jellyfish, things like that. I don’t know what they are, but neither do the scientists.”

In 2008, the company’s owners, Bruce Jones and Patrick Lahey, put together a team with a submarine background. They hired Engen four years ago, and they’ve built two 1000/2 models — that can transport two people to depths of 1,000 feet — and one 3300/3, which is capable of transporting three people to depths of 3,300 feet.

“We have three more 3300/3 models under construction and are currently negotiating another three orders,” Jones said.

There are 10 models, priced from $2.275 million, and Triton is looking for its first customer for the 36000/3, its deepest-diving multi-passenger submersible (price tag: $25 million).

The pioneers

Here’s a little background about those who’ve gone before, and about the Triton’s 36000/3. In 1960, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh dove 36,000 feet — to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

A couple of years ago, James Cameron, the director of Titanic and The Abyss, and billionaire Richard Branson set out, separately, to be next to reach the bottom of the trench. (Cameron got there first, in March 2012.)

But while members of the Triton team would like to build a submersible to go to those depths, they are not racing to do it. “Our submarines have great visibility. The main difference between us and the others’ efforts is that what they are doing is a sort of publicity stunt,” Jones said.

“Ours is designed to be a commercial sub that can go down to the bottom of the ocean every day of the year. Ours is designed to do useful work on the bottom of the ocean. Each one we build will make thousands of dives in its lifetime.”

Already, Triton has undertaken some interesting dives.

Unusual dive mates

In June 2011, a Triton team went to Japan for its first charter with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, in search of giant deepwater sharks. And, yes, they found them, thanks to the craft’s bubble design.

“When we were in Sagami Bay, a 25-foot shark was lying on top of the sub. If we didn’t have all that acrylic visibility, we wouldn’t have known,” Engen said. “And when we were looking for the giant squid, it was a real advantage to be in a transparent vehicle, because we didn’t know where it was going to show up: in front of us, on the side, on top.”

Following that expedition, Triton went to the Ogasawara Islands with Discovery USA in search of the giant squid (they found it).

Triton has recently finished an Antarctica and a South Pacific trip.

But scientific organizations aren’t alone in chartering Triton subs. Adventurous long-range-cruising yacht owners and charterers like them, too.

Owner Jones said, “There are companies that we work with (EYOS and Henry Cookson Adventures) that utilize our subs for specialty charters to go to parts of the world where their clients are interested in seeing.”

Tritons, classed as “+A1 Manned Submersibles” by the American Bureau of Shipping, also are certified by the Cayman Island Shipping Registry. Licenses to operate are not necessary, and an existing yacht crew member can be trained to pilot as well as to maintain the sub, or the owner can be trained.

The subs have relatively small deck footprints — ranging in length from 10.5 feet to 13.5 feet — but they are heavy, for they need to weigh as much as the water they displace.

The sub can be towed out to a dive spot by a yacht. But the company also has designed a number of yachts with special launch-and-recovery systems for the subs.

And although one can’t say “the sky’s the limit” for Triton, the company’s executives are taking their concept as deep as they can. Jones wants to develop a multimedia company that would produce documentaries on how subs are built and where they go.

Jones also envisions building a seafloor resort, with a hotel and underwater residences. The cost of an ocean-bottom home? He estimates $12 million. “We can build it for you. It will have 2,600 square feet. I’d love to live in one, but I don’t know if I could afford it.”

Written for Palm Beach Daily News

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-03-16  ::  Christine

Discover local artists: SoFlo

Wednesday 5 February 2014 - Filed under Discover Local Artists

Fourteen south Florida artists will exhibit their latest ceramic works at “SoFlo: On and Off the Wall” at the Art Gallery at Eissey Campus at Palm Beach State College February 18 to March 21. The opening reception will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on February 18.

Chris Riccardo

Jupiter resident Chris Riccardo’s latest series of work is based on his long-time admiration of the Chinese war horses that were produced during the Tang Dynasty. He admires the Sancai glaze technique and has tried to emulate that.

“The idea that these horses were mass-produced hundreds of years ago instantly drew me to today’s mass-produced Chinese horses that we all know and love, My Little Ponies,” he says.

As he researched more about the Pony phenomenon, he came across a group of people who call themselves, Bronies.

Tang Brony, priced at $4,500.

“This subculture is made up of mostly men who find the series, My Little Pony, and the actual pony characters both happy and joyful and in some instances sexually attractive.

“So, I have tried to incorporate the history of the Tang horses with aspects of today’s mass produced toys and I hope to delve deeper into the Brony world which will be reflected in the new work to come.”

Justin Lambert

An interest in objects that serve a specific purpose motivates Justin Lambert of Jupiter  to make functional pottery. He is also interested in how pottery can inherently initiate a certain situation with a single user and companion.

“It is through the grouping of particular pots that I am able to suggest a special moment to occur,” he said. “It is the interaction of my pots that lead to certain scenarios alluding to the ideas of companionship and solitude.”

Anagama fired stoneware plate $90

Anagama fired stoneware jug, $80

Groupings of bottles or cups invite the viewer to slow down and take notice of the subtle diversities in form and the infinite variety of surface texture and color attainable through wood and soda firing.The scale of his work brings the viewer in close to examine the subtleties of form and surface, and creates a more intimate experience through its utilitarian qualities.

“The firing process I choose provides a direct interaction between the clay and the user,” he said. “My work is not covered with any glaze, rather the firing itself glazes the work, enriches the surface and brings out intrinsic color from the clay.” His investigation into high alumina clay bodies in both wood and soda firing leads his research. He reduction-cools these kilns to achieve deeper colors. The process allows him to explore a “palette somewhat unknown. Frosty, dry, movement rich glazed surfaces provide information for future work, and my careful analysis of surface to form integration provide insight to new formula’s and firing schedules.”

Victoria Rose Martin

For Lake Worth resident,  Victoria Rose Martin, the making of art is a spiritual thing.

“While sculpting, I zone out and it’s as if I make a connection to another place and time. In the small faces I can see members of my family, people and places, and even myself. The work tends to be whimsical or dreamlike with a slightly dark under current,” she said. “I want my pieces to evoke emotion.

“My sculptural forms are hand built using earthenware clay, and no two figures will ever be alike. The surfaces are decorated with stamped words, geometric shapes, and a variety of finishes, including oxides, underglaze, and glaze.”

Skipper and Peg, ceramic and wood, $425

SoFlo is a group of artists and educators working at institutions from Jupiter to Miami. The exhibitors are Deborah Adornato, Shannon Calhoun, Angi Curreri, Angel Dicosola, Nazare Feliciano, Rebeca Gilling, Bryan Hiveley, Judith Berk King, Justin Lambert, Victoria Martin, Chris Riccardo, Bonnie Seeman, Gerbi Tsesarskaia and Karla Walter.

The exhibit will feature 40 pieces of sculptural and functional work, each offering a perspective of current trends in south Florida. Both the reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public. Artwork will be available for purchase. Prices range from $200 to $6,000.

The gallery is located in the Palm Beach Gardens campus’ BB building, Room 113 and hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. For more information, call Art Gallery Specialist Karla Walter at 561-207- 5015 or email walterk@palmbeachstate.edu.

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1 comment  ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-02-05  ::  Christine

on the water

Friday 31 January 2014 - Filed under Other Places

I wrote this feb 2014 for the coastal star. would like to do an update…

Yes, it is possible to buy a home on the water and near the beach for around $40,000. If…

…If are over 55 years old, don’t have a pet, can get through the screening, have cash, don’t mind small spaces and don’t need to rent.

For those who can and do, they reap the rewards. They end up sitting poolside watching boats go by on the Intracoastal. Or they are at the beach taking a breather, because, well, the beach is just there.

Tropicana Gardens, at 4001 S. Ocean Blvd., a co-op with 65 units ranging in size from 350 to 700 square feet does have a few units for sale. Studio #106 is priced at $34,000 through Diane Duffy of Illustrated Properties. Studio #209 and a one-bedroom unit #210 are offered for sale together for $80,000 through Victoria Corsel, a realtor with Lenson Realty, Inc. And there are others.

“We do have a lot of restrictions, which won’t meet people’s needs,” said Peggy Beutel, president of the Tropicana Gardens Homeowners Association. “But having restrictions makes living here so nice. Because we don’t allow renting, for example, we know everyone.

“On the positive side, we have no assessments and aren’t planning any, our maintenance is caught up, and they just gave us a $22,000 reduction on our insurance because our building is so sound.”

This really is home sweet home, not an investment, she added. “My husband Al and I bought our unit ten years ago.

“We have a one bedroom, about 550 square feet, but that’s big enough for us. We paid $40,000 back then and it’s probably worth around that much today.”

To clarify, there are difference between condos and co-ops. Often co-ops are land leases and things might change when the lease comes up. So, ask about that.

Maintenance fees vary, and also, do ask about past, present and future assessments.

For example, unit #109 at the Dune Deck, 3610 S. Ocean, is a short sale, with an asking price of $99,000. There are issues, says listing agent Roger Basso with Jeffrey Ray & Associates. A $1.5 million loan to make repairs – some of them structural – is in the process of being paid off, costing each unit’s owner around $18,000 to $25,000 depending on square footage. Another $1.6 million assessment needed for more structural repairs is, as of this writing, under discussion.

“Some owners are walking away and there are foreclosures in that building,” he said.

On the other hand, “the majority has made repairs since the hurricanes, so they are in better shape than they were before and that’s making them more desirable,” said Courtney Fallon of Scott Gordon Realty Associates, Inc.

Now, here’s information for those with a pet, younger than 55, or want the option of renting: On the strip from The Ritz Carlton north to Sloan’s Curve, 235 units sold in the past year and 46 percent of them were less $200,000 according to the Regional MLS, Fallon reported.

“There are some nice deals out there,” noted Jennifer Spitznagel, broker of Manatee Cove Realty Inc. “We are at historic lows for this area. Prices have rolled back to 2001-2002 prices.”

And another thing, distressed properties are hard to find on the strip, she added, noting a short sale at Southgate, 3605 S. Ocean Blvd, #439, which is listed for $89,900 by Anthony Petrollia, Jr., a realtor with Re/Max Services. Another Southgate property, bank-owned unit #139, where mold remediation work has just been completed, is listed for sale for $79,100 by Barbara Lilley, a realtor with True Blue Realty Inc.

Satu Barish, a realtor with Coastline Realty agrees. “Foreclosures and short sales? I’ve been looking. You can’t buy them.

“Foreclosures get multiple offers and one of my clients offered $10,000 more than the asking price and didn’t get it.”

To compare with other coastal areas, there’s nothing for sale under $100,000 on the ocean in Highland Beach, and there’s only one unit for sale in Briny Breezes under $100,000 — K-27 Juniper, for $64,900.

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-31  ::  Christine

Feel like a Frog

Sunday 26 January 2014 - Filed under Luxury + Uncategorized

For $42,000, you can feel like a frog. All you have to do is own a Quadski.

Half ATV (all-terrain vehicle), half PWC (personal watercraft; think Jet Ski), the four-wheel, motorcycle-like amphibian, built by Gibbs Sports Amphibians Inc., goes up to 45 miles an hour on land and in the water.

A fun toy, it was meant to be enjoyable and easy to use, said Graham Jenkins, Gibbs Sports’ head of public relations and marketing and son of one of the founders. “And we were not trying to build the fastest thing, because the Quadski is the fastest thing. We are pretty happy about that.”

There are other amphibians, he said. But they are speedy either on land or in the water, not both, which makes Quadski an amphibian of a different color, so to speak.

“It handles very smoothly,” Jenkins said. “It’s got a good center of gravity and wider wheelbase, so it’s smoother than an ATV, and it can handle off-road conditions — hills, gravel, dirt, etc. — without trouble.”

He can attest to that because he’s ridden it over the 5-mile track at the company’s test site in Stuart. (Gibbs Sports is headquartered in Michigan.)

Easy to handle

“I am not a light guy, and going around corners on an ATV, it was incredibly easy to tip over. When I got on the Quadski, I did not have a problem. Each time I went around the track, I got going faster and faster. It’s a very forgiving machine, with a good suspension; I didn’t feel like I was being kicked by a mule.”

Some particulars: the 1,300-pound, 10.5-foot-long Quadski draws power from a BMW K 1300 Motorrad motorcycle engine capable of producing 175 horsepower. The engine is mated to a five-speed transmission with an automatic clutch. The craft can carry up to 260 pounds.

Jenkins enjoyed the water experience, too. “I am not an outdoor kind of guy. But I spent a lot of time on the Quadski in the water and had a lot of fun, stopping only because the sun went down. Then, when I was finally finished, I was able to drive the Quadski back onto land and into the trailer. Done. Finished. No dragging out of the water. It was so easy.”

The Quadski came after another invention, the boat/car Aquada. That, too, was conceived by New Zealander and entrepreneur Alan Gibbs. Why did he invent such a vehicle?

Explained Jenkins: “Because in the 1990s, he lived in a tidal area and got fed up while waiting for the tide to come in to launch his boat.”

Then Gibbs met engineer/entrepreneur Neil Jenkins (who came from Nuneaton, England, and now lives in Orchard Lake, Mich.). The two started working on the amphibian car.

Regulatory issues

They built 30 Aquadas. But they put the project on the back burner because the process to satisfy all three regulatory agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Coast Guard) to make the craft road-legal has been a long process.

However, the company was able to meet EPA, Consumer Product Safety Commission and Coast Guard criteria, as well as California Air Resources Bureau standards, for the Quadski.Gibbs and Jenkins had started developing it in 2007, announced it in 2012, and began selling the craft in 2013.

The two have also noted an interest in other amphibian vehicles — part of their larger Amphitrucks line — which they plan to develop as emergency vehicles for first responders.

The Quadski has been popular, Jenkins said. Gibbs Sports has sold about 1,000 of them and plans on producing 3,000 to 4,000 this year. Yacht owners particularly enjoy them and often have them custom-painted to match their boats.

Saving the best for last (and guessing what it might feel like to kiss a frog), here’s an explanation of Quadski’s land/water transitional phase.

“If you are on land and you start to drive the Quadski into water, it feels incredibly strange. You are floating. Then you press a button, the wheels fold up, disengage from the engine, and off you go,” Jenkins said.

“The other way around, just make sure you are floating before you put the wheels down,” he said. “There’s nothing else quite like the feeling. It’s a very strange thing that takes the mind a little while to get used to.”

Quadskis are carried by Riva Motorsports in Pompano Beach and Cycle Springs Powersports in Clearwater.

Christine Davis has learned that she’s a boating enthusiast, much to her surprise. If you manufacture or want to purchase a really cool craft, email her at cdavis9797@comcast.net. She’d love to know about it, write about it and come along on a test drive.

Written for palm beach daily news

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 ::  Share or discuss  ::  2014-01-26  ::  Christine