Jul 7, 2023 - News
Town Talker

Megayacht at The Wharf heralds new era of Washington opulence

A picture of a superyacht docked at the Wharf at night, with lit buildings in the background

Constance, with a backdrop of ritzy trophy buildings. Photo: Cuneyt Dil/Axios

A 197-foot superyacht is making a splash at The Wharf.

Why it matters: Constance is a new bearer of opulence for a capital city known more for halls of marble than seaside glam.

The big picture: A new power center has taken hold along the Washington Channel. Developer Monty Hoffman's Wharf transformed the scene from a parochial boat club to a cosmopolitan marina.

  • Businessman David Blair, who twice ran to lead Montgomery County, moved into the new tricked-out Amaris condo building. Power law firm Williams & Connolly is in a trophy building on Maine Avenue SW.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin still lives on his houseboat Almost Heaven.

Zoom in: So, who owns Constance?

  • All signs point to Alan Dabbiere. He's a tech entrepreneur who founded the mobile software company AirWatch and sold it in 2014 for $1.5 billion. The publication Boat International, dubbed the "global authority in superyachting," profiled his travels on the vessel years ago.
  • After Dabbiere arrived in the region in 2006, the Washington Post placed him among the new guard of Beltway elite who have made a fortune selling business to the federal government.
  • He bought the Hickory Hill house in McLean from the Kennedy family in 2009, then became embroiled in a legal battle with Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry, over an urn planter.

Constance has sailed the ocean blue.

  • It won an award in 2018 at the World Superyacht Awards, according to Boat International. (Dabbiere himself was a judge at this May's black tie fête in Istanbul.)
  • The $50 million superyacht was designed by an Italian firm.
  • It can accommodate 12 guests and 17 crew members.
  • It currently sails under the Marshall Islands flag.

How about this superyacht hack: See the world and homeschool your children on it!

  • The Dabbiere family made full use of the Constance's eight cabins to house their four children, a pair of teachers and nannies, and a naturalist from National Geographic, Boat International reported in late 2019.
  • They traveled over 20,000 miles, mooring in Cuba for a month, diving with reef sharks in the Coco Islands, and visiting Fiji.

"We kept to a strict schedule: school from 8am to 12:30pm every day with the kids in their uniforms and tutoring every night," Dabbiere told the magazine in 2019.

The intrigue: Constance is hard to miss, but not all denizens of The Wharf are gawking at the riches.

  • "We've always had superyachts," says Laurence Kent Jones, the commodore of the Capital Yacht Club, which was established in 1892 and counts Manchin among its residents.

"Maybe not that big," he admits. "I don't think the neighborhood could have accommodated something that big in the past."

What's next: Reached by phone, Dabbiere declined to comment, "It won't be there much longer."

💬 Town Talker is a weekly column about local politics and power. Send me news tips: [email protected].

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