Grand Ambition: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built it, and the Millionaire Who Can’t Really Afford it

By G. Bruce Knecht
Simon & Schuster, 2013
256 pages

When asked a question about the cost of operating a large yacht, J.P. Morgan is said to have responded, “You have no right to own a yacht if you ask that question.”

Cost is relative, and yet time and time again individuals of all means are willing to lay it all on the table to acquire the boat of their dreams.

In his new book, Grand Ambition, journalist, sailor and author G. Bruce Knecht follows one man’s quest to build and own a 187-foot luxury yacht, an accomplishment that he sees as the ultimate definition of his financial success, only to find that he really cannot afford it. It is a story of coming to terms with an unsustainable lifestyle and the vulnerability we all face in unsettled and volatile economic times.

It is also the story of the builders, the workers, who face insecurities and financial challenges in their own lives.

A skilled journalist, Knecht is able to get those involved, from the owner to the pipefitter to speak openly and honestly about their lives and the intricacies of such a project. He also explores the psyche of large yacht owners and the disparity between laborers and artisans who build these luxury vessels.

The book is a thought-provoking read by a masterful writer as he explores the world of super yachts and those driven to possess them.

By John Snyder