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Blog | Luxury Yacht “Serena III” Sinks off of Ft. Lauderdale

January 27, 2016

Luxury Yacht “Serena III” Sinks off of Ft. Lauderdale

On the blustery evening of January 26th, 13 people — the crew and passengers of the 106Ft luxury motor yacht “Serena III” anxiously awaited rescue after they sent out a distress call to the US Coast Guard saying their vessel was taking on water, and sinking.

Not more than 2 hours after the initial distress call, the motor yacht was lost to depths off of the Ft. Lauderdale shore. Fortunately all 13 persons aboard were safely rescued.

The Serena III was about 13 miles off the coast when water began flooding into the vessel. She eventually completely sank in about 1200 feet of water. Sea Tow Captain Tim Morgan, who was on the scene, along with the USCG, told the press: “It was a moonless night so it was very dark. The winds were blowing at about 15 knots out of the east and southeast, so it was a pretty rough ride.”

Morgan, who is very experienced with the waters around South Florida and the vessels who get into trouble with them, said the rate at which the Serena was going down when they arrived on scene made her impossible to save. “The amount of water it was taking in, how quickly the boat sank, really, I don’t think there was much anybody would have been able to do.”

Actual Coast Guard Footage of Serena III Rescue

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios called it a “really hectic situation” and a rescue that had to be conducted during some very “unfavorable weather.” However, all 13 of those on board were taken to shore without injuries.

The registered owner of the Serena III was Richard Paul Matheson. He is the head of the Brazilian company ECISA, which develops and maintains shopping malls. He and his family along with five crew members and the captain were headed for a month long vacation in the Bahamas.



The luxury motor yacht was three years old and estimated to be worth between 10 and 15 million dollars.

Why Boats Sink

The cause of the sinking of the Serena III is still under investigation. But readers may wonder how could a relatively new multi-million dollar yacht sink? While such incidents are rare, they do happen. In 2014 the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BOATUS) published their review of a yearlong analysis of “why boats sink.”

They looked at a years’ worth of sinking claims submitted to insurance companies for commonalities. They concluded that “more than one-third of sinkings happened when some small part, most often below the waterline, gave up its fight with the water due to age or fatigue.”

Basically a boat sinks when it is not watertight. Marine insurance companies define a sinking boat as one that “must be actively pumped out to remain afloat and undamaged.” That means there is source of water, a leak somewhere that most likely went undetected, until the point where the vessel’s bilge pumps could no longer pump out enough of the water to keep her afloat.


After conducting their complete analysis of a year’s worth of insurance claims, BOATUS determined that: 34% of boats sank due to “wear, tear or corrosion” and “9% due to some kind of “improper fitting.” That means that more than 40% of the boats that sank, may not have sunk, if they were maintained properly.



They also found that 5% were due to “improper docking” and 15% due to “hitting something.” That is another 20% of sinkings that may have been prevented with a more diligent and experienced crew.

So, that is over 2/3’s of sinkings from largely preventable causes.

Ultimately, we do not know, nor mean to imply, that any of these was the reason for the sinking of the Serena III. However, it does speak volumes to the benefits of professional yacht maintenance.


Understanding the complexities of motor yacht ownership can be hard. If you would like to benefit from our expertise in these areas, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Sales Specialists, or call us at 954-900-9988.

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