A cruising yacht meant for entertaining — ‘the more the merrier’
James Malone’s polo shirt features a rendering of his 65-foot cruising yacht, with her name, Moon Palace, in a banner curving above it. Below the rendering is Malone’s motto: “Character, class and a full glass.”
Moon Palace was built in Taiwan in 1989 for a scion of the Mossberg family, whose company is known worldwide for high-quality shotguns and other arms. She has had four other owners since then. She is an expanded version of a previous flush-deck design, adding length and accommodations.
“This boat is meant for entertaining; the more the merrier,” Malone said. “She’s a real good drinking boat.”
There are four wet bars aboard. There’s even a bar in the bridge, with a rack of bottles and a spigot with push-button selections for whiskey, gin and other options. It might be worrisome to have these amenities so handy to the steering station, but not so.
“Our full-time captain, Mike Shetler, is a capable family man who doesn’t drink, smoke or cuss,” Malone said. “He’s the perfect man for the job. He’s a pretty good cook, too.”
The main saloon has comfortable seating upholstered in a zebra striped fabric, and features a display of Malone’s collection of original Cuban and African sculpture.
Moon Palace lives at a slip at the Galveston Yacht Basin, floating beneath a shed the size and external appearance of a small factory. The shed was originally built for Bob Smith, the man who built the yacht basin, to house his boat.
During the Christmas season, the roof of Malone’s shed features a 15-foot candy cane wound with Christmas lights. Around the building and on the pier alongside it are large potted palms of exotic species.
The workshop area of the shed is strewn with a collection of unlikely objects, including a golf cart tricked out like a Rolls-Royce, with its distinctive grill and the genuine hood ornament. There’s also a silver statuette of a winged figure. Mounted mako shark jaws line one wall. On another, depicted in neon lights, are a pair of flamingos and cocktail glasses, and a surfer rides a low, blue wave of glowing tubes. Surfboards and kayaks hang from the walls, and a white three-wheeled motorcycle sits ready to be hoisted aboard for shore transportation while in distant ports of call.
At the bow of the boat, a “life-size” sculpture of a surfing shark holding a wooden surfboard stands mounted on a turntable, where it rotated in floodlights during the Kemah Boat Lane Christmas Parade. Multicolored LED lights just below the waterline added to the spectacle of lights festooned fore and aft. Little wonder that she won first prize in her class in the parade.
Beneath this exuberant lighting, though, Moon Palace is a serious cruising vessel. Twin Caterpillar 1,125 horsepower diesel engines can drive her at 30 knots for a sprint, and cruise comfortably at about 12. Her range is about 600 miles without fueling.
“Not quite to Key West,” Malone said.
Malone and his significant other, Doris Richeson, have cruised the boat extensively.
“We’ve been to Cuba, Key West, Cancun, the Bahamas, Biloxi and New Orleans for Mardi Gras,” Malone said. “In the spring, we’ll take her to Mobile and up the Tombigbee Waterway.”
One of Malone’s innovations is an enclosed corridor that passes through the engine room, allowing convenient access from the stateroom aft to the galley and dining room forward.
Picture windows on either side of the corridor give a full view of the engines, massive and spotlessly maintained, and the twin generators that supply power, not just to the lighting displays, but to the air-conditioning, interior lighting and navigation and communication array housed on the bridge in custom-made consoles of polished mahogany.
“I’ve had some really super guys working on this boat,” Malone said. “All I’ve done is think of ways to make her look better. Her woodwork is to die for. She is one of a kind. You won’t see another like her.”