The regional government of Madeira has plans to sunk a yacht formerly owned by the legendary British band The Beatles to create an artificial reef in the Portuguese archipelago, according to reports by Público newspaper on June 25.

However, the move is not without controversy, as the yacht’s owner, businessman João Bartolomeu Faria, refused to remove the Vagrant from the Funchal dock, where it has been operating as a restaurant for nearly 30 years.

Whilst the regional government says that the vessel’s removal from the quay is urgent, as the infrastructure desperatly needs a facelift following the huge storm that took place in February 2011, the yacht’s owner is refusing to move it from the dock.

According to the daily newspaper, João Bartolomeu Faria received a notice in October last year to remove the boat from the city’s east dock, where it has been anchored since 1984. The Vagrant has been since operating as a restaurant complex with its own original deck, made up by small canoes.

Alexandra Mendonça, president of the Port Administration of the Madeira Region (APRAM), said earlier in April, when the dismantling work of the restaurant and deck began, that the occupation of “public domain maritime spaces was abusive and illegal”.

Procedures to remove the vessel from the dock to the sea were initiated last week, after authorities reinforced the Vagrant’s hull, but the boat will stay temporarily in a dry dock in Caniçal before being taken to the ocean to be sunk. The regional government has plans to turn the vessel into an artificial reef, but the exact location is yet to be confirmed.

The former Beatles’ yacht was bought by João Bartolomeu Faria in the Gran Canaria island, where it was shipwrecked following an accident on Christmas day, 1977.

Built in 1941 in the US for the multimillionaire Hocare Vanderbilt, the Vagrant was named as one of the 10 most luxurious yachts in the world at the time.

Besides the iconic British group, Scottish singer Donovan and Greek tycoon Goulandris were also amongst the Vagrant’s former owners.


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