Manatee County’s Sea Force IX launches yacht from Port Manatee

Sea Force IX, a company in Manatee County for 14 years, launched a sport transport yacht Wednesday morning from Port Manatee.

The yacht launch required coordination among Sea Force, stevedore Logistec and Brownell Systems Inc., a specialized boat-moving company. Brownell is based in Mattapoisett, Mass. and owner Tom Brownell said this is his second trip to Port Manatee.

“We love working here,” Brownell said. “And Sea Force builds the best boats. They’re super high-end and super heavy-duty.”

The yacht had been in the water once before for a test sail. It will rest at Twin Dolphin Marina in downtown Bradenton for a couple of nights, according to Sea Force designer Rick Hyer. Then it will travel to Miami before being loaded on a freighter to its final destination. Hyer was unable to disclose the price of the yacht.

Hyer said the sport transport yacht, which took about a year for Sea Force to build, is for moving people from point A to point B.

“It’s nice inside, but it’s not a liveaboard,” Hyer said. “It’s not a splendid, high-fashion luxury yacht.” Another 71-foot boat, this time a utility boat designed specifically for deep-sea diving, will follow the same travel path in about 90 days.

Sea Force can design boats up to 131 feet and is currently working on the smallest boat they’ve ever made, a 41-footer. The marine general contractor, with its workforce of about 25 employees, also repairs boats.

“Sea Force IX’s management, engineering and key lamination supervisory staff has been together for almost two decades,” according to the website. President and CEO Ron Rookstool has been on the water since age 15. After traveling for years on different vessels, Rookstool became aware of the deficiencies in shipbuilding. He started the Manatee company to provide and perfect the “details that go beyond the practical design of a vessel and into the personal and custom feel of a vessel.”

Yacht launches don’t happen all the time at Port Manatee; they are definitely a change of pace from the typical cargo ships that frequent the port, said Virginia Zimmermann, marketing and public relations manager for the port. Hyer said his company always uses Port Manatee when they need to launch yachts. Smaller Sea Force boats can be transported by truck.

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday