Billy Joel’s Ride From Long Island to New York City Was a $1 Million Yacht

“Living well is the best revenge” is the saying that inspired Billy Joel, one of the music world’s most famous celebrities, to name one of his yachts Vendetta. Joel has been living well, made clear by his top-of-the-line yacht. He can use his yacht to travel to his own sold-out New York shows. 

Joel’s yacht is a blast from the past

A large Yacht in the middle of the ocean.
Yacht | Getty Images

Vendetta is a particular type of yacht known as a commuter yacht. These luxurious yachts first gained popularity in the 1920s, when rich Long Islanders began to use them for their daily commutes to Manhattan. Joel helped design Vendetta and modeled the boat on these Great Gatsby-type predecessors. 

Robb Report says of 1920s commuter yachts, “The idea was simple: Create a sleek-looking craft with the same levels of fit and finish as the golden yachts of the era, provide enough seats for a small dinner party, and make sure it is fast enough to beat any train to lower Manhattan.”

Speed is a key characteristic of commuter yachts. Their point isn’t just to take a leisurely journey around the sea. It’s to get someone where they need to go as quickly and luxuriously as possible. 

Doug Yurn, who designed Joel’s ride, has also produced other well-known commuter yachts. Robb Report calls his 63-foot Lynx Commuter “one of his finest designs, a broad-shouldered, straight-edged Downeast-ish yacht with a large cockpit and center walkway, connected to a generous area forward beneath the hardtop.”

Another fave of Robb Report is the Van Dam Geronimo, which boasts a rounded cockpit, forward love seat for two, and modern mahogany construction.

Joel’s yacht was his concert transportation

Joel has really taken his ownership to a whole different level. According to Boat International, he owned as many as five different yachts at one time. He owned the 95-foot Audacious, which housed some of his motorcycles along with the Vendetta.

Vendetta was Joel’s best-known, thanks to its role in shuttling him to Manhattan. Northrop and Johnson explain that Joel assisted designer Zurn in coming up with the stylistic concept for the 57-ft Vendetta.

Vendetta was built in 2005 and, according to Zurn Yachts, cost $2.5 million. It featured ample cockpit space along with a luxurious interior. The yacht could reach speeds up to 50 knots thanks to twin 1,300 hp MAN diesel engines. It also featured an advanced composite hull made of hybrid Kevlar. 

Club Yacht explains that although Vendetta was designed to simulate the classic commuter yacht of 100 years ago, it still boasted many modern bells and whistles. These included a custom Raymarine electronics package, air-conditioning, comfortable seating, and a state-of-the-art propulsion system.

All this impressive technology had a particular purpose: to ferry Joel from his home in Long Island to his concerts in New York City. Why worry about getting stuck in traffic and being late for your own show when you can simply cruise into the harbor?

Joel surely got a great deal of use out of his yacht. Back in 2014, he began a residency at Madison Square Garden, committing to monthly shows for as long as tickets were selling. As of March 2020, he was still going strong, reaching his 120th all-time show at the venue before the pandemic. 

What happened to ‘Vendetta’?

Robb Report says that in 2016, two California businessmen who wished to remain anonymous, purchased Vendetta from Joel. The boat underwent a two-year refit under their ownership at the direction of designer Zurn. The refit was intended to increase the yacht’s ability to navigate the waters of the West Coast comfortably as an ocean cruiser.

As one of the owners told Robb Report, “We wanted the refit to be seamless, but to transform Vendetta from a quality, utilitarian, four-person fast boat to a 12-guest luxury entertainment yacht.” 

Vendetta was listed for sale with Fraser Yachts at a price of just under $2.1 million following the refit.  As the yacht continues to improve the lives of its owners, we’ll have to wait and see where it next emerges in the news. 

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