As one does when you're the co-founder of Microsoft and owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, Paul Allen owns a big yacht — the Tatoosh, which at 303 feet long long is the 49th largest in the world, according to BoatInternational.com. The yacht, described as "a model of understated luxury" in those big-yacht rankings, is manned by a crew of 30 and has two helipads, because you never know when you'll need a spare.
And now it appears that Allen's big yacht has him in big trouble in the Cayman Islands, where officials have accused him of wrecking a high percentage of a protected coral reef.
Yacht & Boating World has the story:
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The Department of Environment has accused the Microsoft co-founder of having caused serious damage to the protected coral reef in the West Bay replenishing zone.
According to the Cayman News Service, the yacht's anchor chain destroyed close to 14,000 square feet — three-tenths of an acre — of the coral reef in question, or about 80 percent of it. Coral reefs are considered vital for marine life to flourish and help protect coastlines from big waves and tropical storms.
Officials have yet to determine if Allen was aboard the yacht when the damage occurred but his camp is blaming the Port Authority, "claiming that they followed instructions when mooring the superyacht," Y&BW's Stef Bottinelli reports. "Shifting winds reportedly changed the position, pushing the ship toward the reserve but it was relocated to avoid damage," the Cayman News Service says.
Later in the day, Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. issued a statement to GeekWire saying that the yacht's crew was directed to anchor in the designated area and moved the ship when it found out something could be amiss:
"Media reports are greatly exaggerated and the investigation by the local authorities is continuing. The local port authority had directed the Tatoosh to anchor in a designated area, and the crew moved the vessel, on its own accord, as soon as it learned from local divers that there might be a problem. The crew is cooperating fully with the local authorities in this matter."
The Cayman Islands Department of Environment will issue its findings next week, and Allen could incur a big fine if he's found to be responsible (though the Cayman News Service says the government there has failed to collect on similar sanctions levied on cruise-ship lines and other megayacht owners).
With a net worth of $17.4 billion, Allen probably can foot the bill.