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The Triton FROM THE TECH FRONT: S/Y Legacy revival

January 2014 B11

Even without sails, Legacy getting ready for treasure hunting LEGACY, from page B1 Halmos contends that due to Wilma’s speed and resurgence as it came off the Yucatan Peninsula, making a beeline for the continental U.S. with Key West its first stop, Legacy couldn’t outrun it. When Wilma hit in late 2005, Halmos and crew were on Legacy, anchored in Key West Harbor during an expedition for Spanish treasure. As the storm bore down, the starboard anchor failed when winds hit 60-70 knots. Thinking they were just dragging, Capt. Collins powered up to reset the anchor, to no avail. The strain to the port anchor gear was too much and that swivel failed also. By then it was too late to abandon ship. A call to the local Coast Guard station for assistance came with the reply to “have everyone on board write their social security number on their arm to help us notify next of kin,” Halmos said. Legacy’s anchors have not been recovered, despite efforts, and remain somewhere near Key West. Legacy sat on the flats two and a half years until, in February 2008, the idea to dig a trench deep enough for the 11-foot-draft yacht to float out on. But since the area is under federal protection, Halmos couldn’t damage more of the sanctuary and instead had to “go out the way you came in,” a milelong path through the seagrass. Even with the trench finished, Legacy stayed put while legal issues were debated. In June 2010, she motored out for the Bahamas.

Time heals

Time has changed Halmos’ attitudes, perspectives and goals. Now 70, and with most of the court proceedings behind him, he waxed philosophical about what the event has meant. He doesn’t consider Legacy an inanimate object; she’s an extension of him. And to restore her is “the right thing to do,” he said. Looking trim after dealing with a few health crises over the past few years, Halmos has a renewed outlook on life, albeit at a slower pace. “I’m more a part of the environment,” he said. He lived aboard Legacy and then the Aqua Village he constructed to oversee her recovery. Aqua Village was a series of as many as eight houseboats and barges rafted together and anchored a few miles from Legacy. During those years, he learned to identify specific birds and fish, not only by species, but individually. He would go on afternoon junkets to quiet shallows, jump in the water and engage with the fish so much that at times they would follow him. Sometimes, he’d feed a barracuda that befriended him. “I could just sit here, listen to the

After his eight-year adventure with the 158-foot S/Y Legacy, owner Peter PHOTO/TOM SERIO Halmos said he feels ‘more a part of the environment.’ waves and enjoy the breeze,” he said as several hammocks swung with the yacht’s motion on the upper deck.

Repairs starting to show

Sitting around the aft deck table, Halmos shared an update on Legacy’s restoration. He’s added battery systems, extra bilges, a solar system and water generators, not to mention the restoration of the engines and interior. “We’ll put her back to what she should be, but she is an 18-year-old yacht, and systems need to be replaced, like AC units and generators,” he said. Built of fine mahogany, the interior woodwork was awash in saltwater from the storm. Bringing it back to its original luster has been an effort. “We still have spots to fix,” Halmos said as he showed a window frame and evidence of corrosion in the corner. One area that still needs attention is the inside helm station. Several of the windshields are shattered and finding the exact, properly curved glass panes has been, well, a pain. And it may be some time before Legacy once again sports her 146-foot main and 120-foot mizzen masts, or her 10,650 square feet of sails. But with her twin 12V MTUs, Legacy has gotten out a bit, motoring up to Palm Beach during the boat show a few years ago. Capt. Collins has since retired and returned to his family in the U.K., so Halmos rehired Capt. James Cooper in 2010 to help with her revival, including the transit to Bradford Grand Bahama to have the hull repaired, new rudder installed and to stabilize the keel. Halmos beamed talking about cooper, who worked onboard from 1995-2003. “We had a wonderful time [on Legacy] and he loves her,” Halmos said. Halmos’ family has mixed feelings about the yacht. His son Nick was recently onboard with his fiancé and seems to be the one likely to carry on

the legacy. Fishing or skipping across the surface to his next waterborne adventure, Nick may be displaying traits a younger Halmos once had. Legacy has become the platform in a way for father and son to spend time together. His other son and wife aren’t interested in the “Robinson Crusoe” lifestyle, he said. Legacy’s resting spot after Wilma has been cleaned of all debris and the

trench that was dug to release Legacy from the shallows has refilled. The houseboats of Aqua Village are gone, and any outward signs of the shipwreck are now in the stories that may be told around town. The legal program, as Halmos explained, wasn’t about money in the end; he was paid from the insurance policies. It was about what he had to go through to get to the end. “We could have decreased the amount of damage and impact if the policy was settled on time,” he said. Halmos said he hopes to get her out exploring a bit again soon. “We’ll get out and do some treasure hunting again,” he said, pointing to a few large boxes filled with sonar gear. He may not be another Mel Fisher, but then again, Peter Halmos doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than himself. Would he ever sell Legacy? “I’m content here and can’t sell her,” he said. “She’ll need a home someday, but I can’t see it yet.” Capt. Tom Serio is a freelance captain, writer and photographer in South Florida. He is a frequent contributor to The Triton and has written extensively about Legacy and her recovery. Comments on this story are welcome at

Triton January 2014 Vol. 10, No.10  

Monthly publication with news for captains and crew on megayachts.

Triton January 2014 Vol. 10, No.10  

Monthly publication with news for captains and crew on megayachts.