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Review: Trinity's 180' Mia Elise

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Review: Trinity's 180' Mia Elise

Trinity's 180' Mia Elise

by Capt. Chuck Gnaegy

Trinity’s 180’ Mia Elise looms up, lovely, imposing. A commanding presence, she is certain to bring appreciative nods at the world’s most luxurious marinas, as well as some green-eyed envy from the planet’s yachtsmen and women. Her message: You needn’t go to Europe for the finest in steel craftsmanship, because Trinity builds aluminum and STEEL yachts in America!

That is also the cardinal message of Trinity’s Billy Smith, who is adamant about the quality of his company’s products and proud of its workers’ talents. Based in New Orleans, Trinity faced a monumental task in protecting its megayachts and facilities from Hurricane Katrina. It also set the standard for treating its workers well while getting back on an even keel after the storm: A story that should be told in every business class.
Typical of Trinity, that was the result of preparedness. The company’s executive force had mapped out procedures for hurricanes, having been through several storms in the past few years. Their plan should become a model for every other business in threatened circumstances. For example, by moving the big yachts to secure areas in the yard, they managed to escape major damage; and as a sidebar – a wry twist of fate – the skeleton crew, which stayed and held out during the vicious storm, survived for days on provisions stored for one yacht’s intended maiden voyage. But that wasn’t all...

Talk about management in a model American company: Trinity doled out $1,500 to each of its workers; 90 salaried employees received their pay throughout the term. Those who had stayed in the yard during the storm were rewarded with new cars or pickups. The company quickly found 100 new trailer homes for employees, and within two weeks, 200 workers were ready for the job again. Marine company suppliers donated more than $75,000 to help get them situated. While retaining its old yard in New Orleans for refitting and repair, Trinity promptly moved its major operations to its new location in Gulfport, Mississippi, and is marching on. In our opinion, that is a management model for American companies; a success story the media should be shouting in headlines.
Now, about Mia Elise, the strikingly beautiful 180’ megayacht featured here. Principals in this glorious design include Trinity’s in-house Designer Geoff van Aller, Project Manager Stuart McClure, and Dale Parker, owner’s representative, who worked with celebrated interior designer Dee Robinson for its elegant presentation. In the planning stages, the fact that this yacht would be used for charter mostly in Europe weighed in not only on construction, but MCA certification, which the owner had specified.

Billy Smith, Trinity’s vice president of sales, explains that most of the company’s larger megayachts had been designed for Caribbean/Bahamas cruising. That called for a shallow draft, and for them, aluminum was the prime choice. But since Trinity was intent on going head to head with European builders, targeting the large steel yacht market, Mia Elise – for the European charter trade – was the perfect entrée.
However, steel would not be new to Trinity. It has produced several large steel expedition yachts – 184’ and 92’. Yet, this is its first full-displacement “white hull” (viz. non-commercial) steel mega-yacht in that size; the largest built in America in 70 years. Steel, as a matter of fact, was the primary material in the yard’s early years. World War II history recalls the famous Higgins Boats landing craft that President/General Dwight D. Eisenhower claimed “Won the war for America.” Those LCIs – Landing Craft, Infantry – by the thousands, were designed and built in New Orleans by the Higgins yard; which later turned out sturdy steel commercial vessels as Halter Marine; then eventually became Trinity Yachts. So it’s a given that Trinity’s customers rely on the builder’s experience (and past performance) to guide them through the planning program.
It’s true that for years yacht buyers have gone to Europe for larger models in steel, and perhaps for a touch of the classic continental charm. But choices often depend on the mission of the boat, how it will be used. Those questions can involve not only draft and sea conditions, plus ocean-crossing ability, and whether the buyer is an older couple with vast experience, or a young couple with children; and which staterooms feature step-in showers vs. bathtubs. “One buyer,” Smith says, “had decided on a 124-foot yacht because the stateroom alignment made provision for small grand-kids;” he grins, “ but her present children weren’t even old enough to be married yet. That’s planning ahead, with options for the future.”
Because Mia Elise is proferred directly toward the European charter market, her elegance must take into account that her audience is constantly changing. She entertains a complement of 12 transient guests in 6 staterooms, and sports a level of 12 experienced crew in 7 cabins. So her design must allow for changing of atmospheres, rather than settling into the usual constant theme décor. It’s almost as if each area will project its own personality, rather than one totally integrated motif. Mia Elise boasts five levels, from the sunny, airswept flybridge/sundeck on top, to the pilothouse and command helm, main deck, accommodation deck, plus the tank deck at the very bottom.
Tenders to Mia Elise inlcude an 18’ carbon-fiber RIB, a 29’ center console with twin outboards and a pair of PWCs; water toys to keep the most playful guests happily involved. The davit for dishing out all this fun is located just to port.
The full beam sundeck is a study in modern design. With each element placed in its exact, mathematical position it takes on a near redolence of Piet Mondrian strictness in fine art quality. The inspiring view from the forward sundeck almost overwhelms the amenities. Yet there is room for a dozen at dinner, plus a duo of other seating; six sun lounges, a full serving bar with stools. Amidships, there’s this shaded circular settee; plus a spa to climb up into and let the world go away.
A fresh conceptual approach for each level of Mia Elise included variations in polychromatic colors, types of furniture, accessories and artwork, plus fabrics that match the mood of the particular section. Details of design, in startling variance, characterize the results. Take the flybridge for example, which is sectioned and seperate, but lends itself to harmonious blending. A balance of dedicated areas, such as the refreshment bar, whirlpool, shade and sun lounges all work together to accomodate guests and compliment the festivities.
Exiting the flybridge and making your way down the chic, steel-hulled Mia Elise, you take notice of some fanciful and interesting artwork... forged from metal. In this case, it's the staircase. Notice the contours of the stairwell's liner, in addition to curved steps that jettison out to greet your feet. Small detail? Yes. A lot of work? You betcha! Special touches abound at every nook & cranny with an artful treatment of mundane items as well.
Mia Elise’ command center, the helm is on the Pilothouse deck, forward. A symphony of fine dark mahogany and teak, instruments, and observation windows; if it were steel grey it could double as a U.S. Navy bridge. Half a dozen wide screens and countless gauges/switches inform the captain and engineer of every detail on the ship’s electronic and navigational systems. They range from GMDSS Furuno A3RC 18125 to Satcom, CAPSAT, SSB, VHF, Navtex and SARTS to Nav VEI SEAPC and SS-Band. A pair of pedestal-mounted leather chairs dominate this vast array, all backed up by passenger observation posts in comfy settees. Captain’s quarters are immediately aft of the helm position.
A close up view of the sky bar shows attention to detail and commodious furnishings. Large windows, as well as recessed lighting within the valances add to a leisurely atmosphere. As you look a little closer, there is nothing leisurely about the woodwork. The craftsmenship on Mia Elise is among the most intricate we have seen... and it is carved from stem to stern.
Aft of the control center, the sky-lounge itself is a well laid out series of entertainment areas: A 60” plasma TV entertains at one end, with myriad couches and easy chairs, conversation nooks, set in fine art-festooned, dark mahogany walls. A complete bar with upholstered leather stools, and a gaming table make this a gathering place well-attended.
Peering down the abyss of multiple levels in the staircase atrium, a circular concerto of wood and wrought iron have been tweaked into a working piece of art that lands on a Kaleidoscope of marble on the lower deck.
On the main deck, the formal salon is a study in excellence, with dark mahogany woods used generously across the whole spectrum. It is accented by a harmonic of cream carpeting and soft bundled lights overhead, with the light tan color echoed on chair backs and seating. A 42” TV graces the main salon as well as a Yamaha piano for live entertainment.

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