DOVER, Del. -- The owners of the former presidential yacht Sequoia are asking a Delaware judge to prevent a lender from seizing it.
Sequoia Presidential Yacht Group claims in a Chancery Court lawsuit filed late last week that FE Partners reneged on a $5 million loan agreement in a "dastardly" plan to take control of the historic vessel.
Washington, D.C.-based FE Partners says the lawsuit is grossly inaccurate and without merit.
The Delaware lawsuit was filed after a New York judge dismissed a similar complaint last month on jurisdictional grounds. Both parties are Delaware limited liability companies.
The Sequoia plaintiffs claim that FE Partners lent only half the $5 million that was promised, leaving them in financial distress and subject to "trumped up" default claims that allow FE Partners to buy the yacht at a fire-sale price of $7.8 million.
According to the plaintiffs, the 104-foot Sequoia, built in 1925, is the longest-serving presidential yacht in American history. It was the official yacht for presidents from Herbert Hoover through Jimmy Carter.
The Sequoia was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987 and is currently docked at a marina about a mile south of the U.S. Capitol. The yacht is available for rental, at about $10,000 per charter.
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10. SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR
<strong>Regent Seven Seas</strong> <em>Overall Score: 89.2</em> Unlike Regent’s two other ships, the line’s smallest vessel, the 490-passenger Seven Seas Navigator, can’t claim to be an “all-balcony” ship, but it's close: 85 percent of its staterooms have them. The Navigator underwent a thorough refurbishment in 2009, which included the addition of a contemporary steak house, Prime 7, complementing the ship’s three other dining options. Also in 2009, Canyon Ranch took the helm of the ship’s spa and fitness facilities. Since May 2011, all Regent packages have included pre-cruise hotel accommodations and ground transfers to the ship. Summer finds the ship in Alaska; fall, on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada; and in winter and spring, it sails the Caribbean. <em>Courtesy of Seven Seas Navigator, Regent Seven Seas</em>
9. SILVER SPIRIT
<strong>Silversea</strong> <em>Overall Score: 89.4</em> Seabourn’s three smaller ships, the Legend, Pride, and Spirit, each with 104 suites, are almost indistinguishable (and all score in the 90s on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey). All have relatively spacious cabins, from 277 to 575 square feet, with in-suite bars and refrigerators stocked according to guests’ preferences prior to arrival; bathrooms come with a choice of soaps, including Hermès and L’Occitane. Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer presides over the dining venues, and unlike on some ships, you won’t face any surcharge when you decide to skip the main dining room. Seabourn’s all-inclusive policy also means that you won’t have to worry about running up a steep tab when you visit the four bars and lounges. The Spirit summers in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, while in the winter she can be found in the Caribbean and along the Central American coast. <em>Silver Spirit, Silversea</em>
8. SILVER EXPLORER
<strong>Silversea</strong> <em>Overall Score: 89.9</em> Silversea’s expedition ship, the Explorer, is a departure from its larger luxury ships. Designed with an ice breaker hull, which enables it to cruise through the waters of arctic, the ship sails with eight Zodiac boats for exploration and a mere 132 passengers, providing an upscale take on nature cruising in Antarctica and the Arctic Circle. Passengers start the day with lectures; they’re then provided with parkas, boots, binoculars, and other gear for their Zodiac excursions. In the evenings, your butler can help you shed your (probably wet) layers so you can dress for an evening in the Relais &Chateaux dining room followed by cognac in the cigar bar—an experience more akin to those you’ll find on Silversea’s other vessels. <em>Courtesy of Silver Explorer, Silversea</em>
7. SEABOURN SPIRIT
<strong>Yachts of Seabourn</strong> <em>Overall Score: 90.2</em> Seabourn’s three smaller ships, the Legend, Pride, and Spirit, each with 104 suites, are almost indistinguishable (and all score in the 90s on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey). All have relatively spacious cabins, from 277 to 575 square feet, with in-suite bars and refrigerators stocked according to guests’ preferences prior to arrival; bathrooms come with a choice of soaps, including Hermès and L’Occitane. Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer presides over the dining venues, and unlike on some ships, you won’t face any surcharge when you decide to skip the main dining room. Seabourn’s all-inclusive policy also means that you won’t have to worry about running up a steep tab when you visit the four bars and lounges. The Spirit summers in the Mediterranean and Adriatic, while in the winter she can be found in the Caribbean and along the Central American coast. <em>Courtesy of Seabourn Spirit, Yachts of Seabourn</em>
6. SEABOURN LEGEND
<strong>Yachts of Seabourn</strong> <em>Overall Score: 90.3</em> Virtually identical to her sister ships the Pride and Spirit (which also score in the 90s on Condé Nast Traveler's Readers’ Choice Survey), the Seabourn Legend has 104 suites, the smallest of which offer a spacious 277 square feet. Forty percent of staterooms have balconies, and all have ocean views. In-suite bars and refrigerators are stocked according to your preferences prior to arrival. Four restaurants are available, all with menus created by celebrity chef Charlie Palmer. Before- and after-dinner options abound, with your choice of four lounges and bars. From spring to fall, the Legend sails itineraries around the Mediterranean, while winter finds her in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. <em>Courtesy of Seabourn Legend, Yachts of Seabourn</em>
5. PAUL GAUGUIN
<strong>Paul Gauguin Cruises</strong> <em>Overall Score: 90.5</em> The only ship in the Paul Gauguin Cruises line, the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin sails where Gauguin painted. It was built specifically for the islands and atolls of French Polynesia, where shallow depths often keep larger ships at a distance from ports. Itineraries include some of the more remote archipelagoes, notably the little-known Tuamotus, as well as many islands that even veteran travelers may not have heard of, such as Ua Huka in the Marquesas, an island populated principally by horses and goats. The ship has seven guest decks that accommodate passengers in cabins ranging from Porthole Staterooms to a variety of suites; 70 percent of all the cabins have balconies or verandas. A retractable marina and an onboard dive program occupy days, which end with dinners where wines are served gratis. <em>Paul Gauguin, Paul Gauguin Cruises</em>
4. SEABOURN SOJOURN
<strong>Yachts of Seabourn</strong> <em>Overall Score: 91.3</em> The second of the three new-build Seabourn ships, the 450-passenger Sojourn is nearly two-and-a-half times the size of the line’s older ships. Instead of the intimacy of a smaller, 200 passenger vessel, you’ll find more to see and do, including an 11,400-square-foot, two-story spa with outdoor space and cabanas. Cabins have been upgraded: 90 percent have verandahs, and Sojourn features suites with solariums. Best of all, Seabourn’s specialties—fabulous service, plenty of space per cruiser and a water-sports marina. <em>Courtesy of Seabourn Sojourn, Yachts of Seabourn</em>
3. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDEAVOUR
<strong>Lindblad Expeditions</strong> <em>Overall Score: 92.9</em> The forerunner of Lindblad Expeditions first led tours of the Galápagos in 1967, and the company acquired the Endeavour in 1996 (it was originally used as a North Sea fishing trawler), so both the line and the ship are old hands at sailing the islands that Darwin made famous. The 96-passenger ship has 10- and 16-day-long itineraries departing from Guayaquil, Ecuador, every Friday. The Endeavour is a small expedition ship, and passengers shouldn’t expect luxury-liner amenities, but all cabins have small writing desks and views of the water; meals are single-seating at unassigned tables. One of the ship’s unusual features is a floating massage platform, for treatments made complete by the gentle rocking motion of the sea. <em>Courtesy of National Geographic Endeavour, Lindblad Expeditions</em>
2. SEABOURN PRIDE
<strong>Yachts of Seabourn</strong> <em>Overall Score: 93.0</em> Like her sister ships the Legend and the Spirit, the Seabourn Pride has a staff-to-passenger ratio of nearly one to one. Guests stay in 104 suites, ranging from 277 to 575 square feet; 40 percent have balconies, and all have ocean views. Drinks at the four bars and lounges are included in your fare, as are all meals, even when you choose to opt for one of the smaller restaurants over the main dining room; each has a menu created by chef Charlie Palmer. Like her sister ships (which also score in the 90s on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Survey), the Pride has a private marina, which extends from the rear of the ship, allowing guests to enjoy water sports even at sea. The Pride gets around: In addition to world cruises, she has Baltic, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian itineraries. <em>Courtesy of Seabourn Pride, Yachts of Seabourn</em>
1. SEABOURN ODYSSEY
<strong>Yachts of Seabourn</strong> <em>Overall Score: 94.4</em> The highest rated of Seabourn’s impressive fleet, the Seabourn Odyssey was launched in 2009 as the first of Seabourn’s trio of larger ships (the Sojourn and Quest followed in June 2010 and June 2011). Each has 225 suites, compared to 104 on the line’s earlier ships. Almost 90 percent of the cabins, which range in size from 295 to 1,189 square feet, have verandas. As with other Seabourn ships (all of which score in the 90s on Condé Nast Traveler's Readers’ Choice Survey), chef Charlie Palmer presides over the kitchens, but a new addition is the Colonnade, an indoor/outdoor restaurant where meals are prepared in an open kitchen. At 11,400 square feet, the Spa at Seabourn is one of the largest found on any luxury ship. The Odyssey spends much of the year exploring the Mediterranean (Greek Isles, Dalmatian Coast, and Turkey), but also has Fort Lauderdale-to-Los Angeles and South Pacific itineraries. <strong><a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/cruises/polls/2012/top-100-cruise-ships-in-the-world?mbid=synd_huffpo" target="_hplink">Visit Condé Nast Traveler to see more top-ranked cruise ships</a></strong> <em>Courtesy of Seabourn Odyssey, Yachts of Seabourn</em>