Another month, another billionaire’s yacht off MDI


Northern Star anchored off Bar Harbor on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015.

In June, it was Lady Gayle Marie, a 140-foot power yacht owned by Tom Benson, the billionaire owner of the New Orleans Saints NFL football team.

In July, it was Fountainhead, the 288-foot yacht owned by billionaire Mark Cuban, who appears on the ABC television show ‘Shark Tank’ and who owns the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association.

In August, the 139-foot Rebecca appeared in Somes Sound. The sailing vessel is owned by grocery store magnate Charles Butt, who does not own a professional sports team but who does own a seasonal waterfront home in the Mount Desert village of Northeast Harbor.

This week, it is the Northern Star that has been seen off MDI, anchored in Frenchman Bay on the northern side of Bar Island. Unlike the owners of the other boats – Benson lives in New Orleans while Cuban and Butt both live in Texas (Dallas and San Antonio, respectively) – the owner of Northern Star hails from Canada.

John Risley, who made his fortune in the fishing industry, is estimated to have a net worth of more than $1.6 billion in Canadian currency, according to the publication Canadian Business. That wealth is the equivalent of $1.275 billion in American funds.

Risley, who lives in Chester, Nova Scotia, co-founded Clearwater seafood company in the 1970s and has since expanded into nutritional supplements (namely the fish oil business) and into telecommunications industry, according to Canadian media reports (this one from Atlantic Business and this one from CBC, among others).

According to, the yacht is for sale for just less than 100 million euros, or about $112 million in U.S. money. It is not clear if Risley is traveling with the yacht, but it is not the first time a yacht in which he has an ownership stake has visited Bar Harbor. The Meteor, a sailing yacht nearly 170 feet long that Risley co-owns with First Marblehead CEO Dan Meyers, dropped anchor in Bar Harbor in 2013.

Want a rags-to-romance tale mixed in among the luxury? Here’s a story from the Daily Mail and another from The Telegraph newspaper about a former fisherman from Dartmouth, England, who went off to work as a deckhand for the billionaire (presumably on a different yacht) and ended up marrying his boss’ daughter – with Risley’s apparent blessing. The reports detail how the newlyweds cruised to the groom’s homeport on the Northern Star to throw a lavish party for his childhood friends.

For my money, the best looking yacht of the four is the Rebecca. Below is a photo of it sailing last month past the former Seal Harbor home of Nelson Rockefeller.


Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.