Mystery surrounds sunken, dismantled luxury yacht with no confirmed owner

The luxury pleasure cruiser started taking on water on a weeknight in May, with just the caretaker on board.

Unregistered and unable to berth at the nearby marina, it had been anchored off the coast of Yeppoon in Queensland. 

But the superyacht had dragged its anchor in the rough weather, and was heading towards the rocky shore south of Lammermoor Beach.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Video. Duration: 1 minute 14 seconds

Footage of the sunken yacht off the coast of Yeppoon.(Supplied: Matt Harding)

As it drifted and sank into the ocean, maritime crews rescued the caretaker and towed the million-dollar yacht to safer waters. 

The mystery superyacht creating a logistical nightmare for authorities was shrouded by a chequered past. 

As it ran aground, baffled Yeppoon locals watched salvagers cut the marooned vessel into pieces, as debris washed up on the pristine coastline. 

Four images showing a luxury yacht in the stages of being dismantled.
The superyacht was deconstructed over the course of a week.(Supplied)
A man smiles. He wears a cap with the words "Make boating great again".
Richie Cunningham skippered for Mr McIntyre a decade ago.(Facebook)

No-one came forward to claim ownership of the boat. 

But accusations were quick to fly. 

“This couldn’t happen to a nicer person,” boat captain Richie Cunningham told his Facebook followers in a video from Lammermoor Beach, with the partially submerged superyacht in the frame behind him. 

“This is karma at work.”

The former owner banned from business

The swipe was at Gold Coast identity Jamie McIntyre, a banned businessman previously known for hosting lavish parties in Surfers Paradise.

In 2016, a Federal Court judge banned Mr McIntyre from managing corporations for 10 years, after he was found to have run five unlawful managed investment schemes, which cost 152 investors $7 million.

Mr McIntyre has been tied to the sunken superyacht, but strongly denies that he is its current owner.

A man in an Akubra-style hat sits next to a couple on a boat.
Mr McIntyre with Ms Roberts (together, right).(Facebook)

“It was owned by a boat syndicate,” Mr McIntyre told ABC Capricornia in a text, “mostly overseas owners who don’t live in Australia.”

Mr McIntyre said he had plans to buy the boat as “a wedding present”.

“I used to own it and was buying it back as shareholders wanted it sold, once its commercial survey for charter was complete.” 

The influencer, the ‘Colombian playboy’, and the international syndicates

Mr McIntyre married Brisbane influencer and “entrepreneur” Nadine Roberts in May.

A woman smiles as she sits on a boat.
Ms Roberts has not responded to requests for comment for this story.(Facebook)

Ms Roberts’ Instagram feed lists a press pass picturing her as a “journalist” for an anti-vax website. Both have appeared as speakers and performers at anti-vaccination rallies.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Video. Duration: 5 minutes 20 seconds

Jamie McIntyre and Nadine Roberts appear at a “Freedom Rally” on the Gold Coast in May.(Supplied)

Two days before the superyacht sank, a company called Boat Syndicate was registered in Ms Roberts’ name.

The company’s co-director is listed as Alejandro Mendieta Blanco, a luxury goods buyer and self-described “Colombian playboy”, who was jailed in 2020 for receiving stolen gold jewellery and a Louis Vuitton handbag. 

A man smiles as he holds a champagne bottle.
Alejandro Mendieta Blanco describes himself as a “Colombian playboy”.(Facebook)

Neither Ms Roberts nor Mr Mendieta Blanco have responded to requests for comment.

But Mr McIntyre denies Boat Syndicate is the yacht’s owner.

“Boat Syndicate was a company set up to buy it, but as it sunk [the] sale obviously can’t go through,” Mr McIntyre said in a text to the ABC.

Another syndicate listed on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission lists Ms Roberts and Mr Mendieta Blanco as shareholders, with Ms Roberts listed as secretary and director.

A man and eight women on board a boat.
Alejandro Mendieta Blanco was jailed for receiving stolen gold jewellery and a Louis Vuitton handbag.(Supplied)

Known as Boat Swap Syndicate, that company was deregistered in February.

Another of the former Boat Swap Syndicate shareholders, a Turkey-based financial planner, confirmed the syndicate used to own the sunken yacht.

Mr McIntyre did not respond when asked about that syndicate, and has refused to clarify who the current owner is.

“I spoke to some of the shareholders,” Mr McIntyre said.

“They said they have no interest in speaking to ‘fake journos who works [sic] for mainstream media outlets like the ABC’.

“It must be a very slow news year in Rockhampton,” Mr McIntyre said.

The party boat

A man with five women on board a boat.
Mr McIntyre had plenty of bikini-clad partygoers on board his luxury cruises, his former skipper says.(Supplied)

Boat captain Richie Cunningham said he skippered for Mr McIntyre a decade ago, when he hosted luxury cruises along the Gold Coast with a boat known as Livin’ I.

“There were plenty of young bikini-clad partygoers, and Jamie and his friends, having a great time.

“And that’s all wonderful. But where I drew the line was overloading the vessel.”

Mr Cunningham said he quit over alleged safety concerns.

“It’s just not viable to have 30 or 40 people trying to clamber all over a 58-foot sports cruiser.”

Mr McIntyre claims Mr Cunningham was sacked and his comment on Facebook was motivated by this.

“He can barely write, let alone count, more bulls**t from a sacked skipper,” Mr McIntryre said.

Mr Cunningham said he understood the sunken boat to be called Livin’ II and that it was not the first time it had been in trouble.

“It’s very well known, particularly on the Gold Coast, as a vessel that had previously jammed itself under Sundale Bridge, and then was towed out very unceremoniously.” 

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Luxury yacht crashes into bridge.

Mr McIntyre responded, saying that the yacht was “illegally used by a boat manager and stand-in skipper for illegal charters without the owner’s permission and crashed into a bridge”.

“It’s also run aground before on the Gold Coast near what’s known as Bum’s Bay just north of Sea World,” Mr Cunningham said.

Mr McIntyre has a history of complex company structures and directorships which makes it difficult to track who owned the boat.

But the ABC understands Livin’ II had previously been operating as a pleasure cruiser for Gold Coast Luxury Escapes, to which Ms Roberts is listed as a company director.

Mr McIntyre’s former bookkeeper’s husband was also listed as a director.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reported a previous company linked to Mr McIntyre was fined $20,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court in 2020 for hiring out the boat without a certificate of operation or a certificate of survey.

At the time, AMSA said authorities were alerted to the operation “after a paying passenger died from a medical condition during a cruise on December 31, 2018”.

The ABC is not implying that Mr McIntyre was implicated in the death.

The owner of a marina in south-east Queensland, who wished to remain anonymous, said he kicked the boat out of his marina after witnessing unauthorised charters.

He said he almost got into a “punch on” with a DJ after “a busload of girls rocked up for a party” on the boat and that he told Mr McIntyre he had to leave his marina immediately.

The ‘dark web of shipping’

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) would not respond to specific questions from the ABC about the sunken yacht’s registration, insurance or ownership.

In a statement, MSQ general manager Kell Dillon said it was still investigating, in conjunction with AMSA.

“MSQ has options to seize vessels and remove them as well as to recover costs where practicable through the courts.”

Mr McIntyre said there had been “a commercial-in-confidence deal done with the Queensland government” to recover costs, but MSQ has not confirmed this.

Queensland Police said that, at this stage, it was not involved in the investigation, as that was MSQ’s jurisdiction.

AMSA said it was “assisting Maritime Safety Queensland with ongoing enquiries”.

If the boat is owned by an international syndicate, it’s very difficult for the public to ascertain that information.

Ian Bray — the national coordinator for the International Transport Workers Federation — said ownership of international boats in Australia waters was incredibly murky.

Mr Bray said that, often, boats were registered under shell companies in tax havens, making it difficult for authorities to know who actually owned them and was responsible for them.

“It’s completely unregulated,” Mr Bray said.

“It’s a global issue that governments need to start to pay attention to.

“When you consider that 90 per cent of the world’s activity regarding trade is dependent on shipping, I think it’s in everybody’s interest that they do pay further attention to it.”

Posted , updated 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *