A COUPLE who lucked out at a police auction are now planning to sail around the world after buying a criminal’s multi-million pound super yacht for a knock down price of £66,000.
Jon and Louise Stevens snapped up the 85ft motor yacht “The Caviar” at a government auction after it was seized from a convicted fraudster by police.
The vessel had been abandoned in a wharf in Southampton, Hants, for 13 years and as a result was in a run down state when the couple took it over.
They have since spent over £300,000 restoring the vessel, which they have renamed The Juliette, after their two-year-old daughter.
Now that it is seaworthy, Jon, 31, and Louise, 28, have let their flat in Guildford and are living permanently on the luxurious yacht with Juliette.
This summer, they will sail it around the north of France and the Channel Islands before docking in London so Louise can continue her medical studies at King’s College.
Next summer, the family and their pet dog will venture further afield and cruise around the Mediterranean.
The Sanlorenzo yacht, which was built in Italy in 1986, has five en suite bedrooms, a kitchen and a large open planning living area.
There are three decks, including one to keep a jetski and rib on.
It can travel at 35 knots and has three 1,100HP engines.
It would have cost several millions pounds new and is now thought to be worth about £400,000.
Jon, a property developer, said his family and friends initially thought they were mad to take on such a mammoth project.
He said: “Louise and I have worked on ships before and we met on board one. We began by doing up houses but it has always been our dream to renovate a boat.
“When we bought the yacht two and a half years ago, we didn’t intend to keep it.
“But we invested so much time and money into it, we couldn’t just let it go.
“The boat had been in Southampton for 13 years but eventually the owner did something dodgy and it was seized and sold at a proceeds of crime auction.
“We started by removing absolutely everything inside and we’ve done up the engine, electric plumbing, navigation and upholstery.
“This summer, we hope to sail it around northern France and the Channel Islands, then we’ll be in London from September until April. Then we’ll go travelling around the Mediterranean next summer.
“The yacht is named Juliette as it was bought just after our daughter was born. She absolutely loves the boat and playing with her toys on the deck.
“Our family and friends at first thought we were absolutely mad to buy the yacht given the state of it, but they’ve been so helpful.”
Last month, all their hard work was almost derailed when a blaze started in the engine room as they approached Poole Harbour in Dorset.
Jon, a trained diving instructor, was able to put it out before it ripped through the heart of the boat.
Lifeboats rescued his family, including Louise, who spent several days in hospital after the smoke triggered a heart condition.
Jon said: “It was a nightmare. Upon smelling burning plastic on the flybridge I found two fires in the corner of the engine room.
“It looks like a pipe came loose from the port engine. It fell onto the live terminal of the starter motor, setting it on fire.
“We will forever be grateful to the lifeboat teams who came to our aid.”
Louise said: “It has been quite daunting because most owners of a yacht this size have staff on board and we do it all ourselves.
“All our married life we’ve lived in two bedroom flats so to take on a massive yacht is some challenge.
“But it is such an adventure and this is such an exciting new life for our family.
“There are times when we’ve thought did we take on too big a project, but the views you get off the back of the yacht make all the hard work worth it.”
Needless to say, yachts don’t normally come at such bargain rates.
Sun Online Travel previously revealed that a £2.8 billion yacht covered in 15st of gold and jewels was sold to a mystery buyer.
However, you can hire a luxury yacht for just £126 per week.