The Ipanema girl goes on the block in 10 days, a half-built dream vessel looking for a new owner.

The 70-foot Deerfoot yacht recalls the golden age of sailing. She was intended for long-distance travel — glamorous enough to cruise among the glitterati of the Mediterranean and rugged enough to round Cape Horn’s swirling currents and vicious winds.

She was commissioned by an Englishman living in Brazil and designed by a Norwegian based in Copenhagen. She was being built by Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding in Thomaston until the financial crisis hit and hobbled the sloop’s owner Richard Lee’s ability to finance the $3.69 millon price tag, according to a lawsuit filed by Lyman-Morse in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

Now she sits, 60 percent finished, waiting for public auction on Aug. 1.

“My wish is that there is a new owner to complete the boat,” said the ship’s architect Ulf Rogeberg.

In a 2010 review of the Lyman-Morse vessel, Yachting magazine said “the subtle spring of her sheerline pays homage to classical yachts of sailing’s so-called Golden Age, and does so without making a caricature of the entire design. It’s perfect.”

The Deerfoot 70 was due for completion in September 2010. The design called for mahoghany ceilings, French walnut trim in the dinette, a wine locker in the owner’s cabin and a teak cockpit.

None of those details ever came to be. Instead, the global recession and a protracted lawsuit and countersuit killed the dream of the Ipanema, a name attached to the project by Lee. The boat hasn’t been formally christened, so a new owner could name the yacht.

The first Deerfoot yachts appeared in 1978, according to Yachting magazine. Having a new custom Deerfoot come up for sale surprises boating experts.

“It’s rare to come up with an auction like this. Lyman-Morse is an excellent builder. They have a good reputation,” said Murray Lord, founding partner of yacht broker Wellington Yachts of Portsmouth, R.I.

Lyman-Morse said it builds only one or two boats of this size a year. A vessel like the Deerfoot 70 normally takes 18 months to finish, requiring a team of 20 full-time workers and about another 15 part-time workers or contractors, said Cabot Lyman, owner of Lyman-Morse.

The fact that the yacht is unfinished could be a selling point for a buyer who wants to add their finishing touches, but a buyer with a few million dollars to spare may want to design the ship from the underbody up, boat experts said.

“That’s why they go and do it — to have something that’s not out there on the market, to design their own,” Lord said.

A new owner would be “buying it for pennies on the dollar,” said Lyman, who declined to estimate how much the vessel may fetch in auction. Under the terms of the court-ordered sale, Lyman-Morse has the right to bid up to $500,000 in the auction.

Lyman acknowledges selling the hull of the would-be glamorous ship will be difficult, even for a fraction of the original price.

“It will be a tough sale in this market. Any half-finished project is a tougher sell. The owner’s definitely hurt us big-time,” Lyman said.

“Anything’s tough to sell right now,” Lord said. “There’s a slew of boats out there right now. Why get into something that you have to build up?”

The auction value is difficult to estimate, boat experts said.

“Its value and whether it’s a bargain depends on how far along the construction is. If it’s a bare hull and deck (which appears to be the case), the savings won’t be huge, because the bulk of the expense is in the systems, rig, joinery and finish work,” said Dennis Caprio, senior editor with Yachting magazine.

“It is a custom design, but Rogeberg drew it with thoughts of series production, which means that the moldings will be the same for the entire line and only the interior would change at the buyer’s request,” Caprio said.

If the successful bidder plans to use the ship’s molds to build additional vessels, royalties must be paid to Rogeberg, according to the court documents.

Lee, who had invested $1.5 million into the ship initially, according to court documents, could not be reached for comment. As of December, Lee owed more than $890,000 to Lyman-Morse for the work already performed, the court documents said.

Rogeberg said he planned to attend the auction, but can’t afford to bid on the boat himself. He was unsure whether Lee would attend.

In a countersuit dismissed by the court, Lee claimed that Lyman-Morse suffered from incompetent management or intentional negligence by inflating the hours needed to build the ship and failing to keep the buyer up to date on the likely final price of the project.

The auction may bring out some locals curious about the fate of the half-built vessel they’ve watched sit for two years at Lyman-Morse; but few, if any, Mainers are expected to bid, local experts said.

“Any project boat requires a special buyer,” said Patrick Ricci, owner of Thomaston Boat & Engine Works Inc. “There’s not a lot of local people who could buy it. It’s going to take some pretty good promotion — a global kind of promotion. A lot of people in Europe and Australia would kill for it if they knew about it. Maybe five people in Maine, or New England even, could be a player.”

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