Florida Keys

This boat had a stylish role in ‘Miami Vice.’ Now it’s back and looking good in the Keys

A “Miami Vice” sailboat is now docked in Key West

Albert Tropea and Ronda Rinald, of Key West Sailing Adventure private charters, own the sailboat that was used as the home for the character Sonny Crockett on “Miami Vice.”
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Albert Tropea and Ronda Rinald, of Key West Sailing Adventure private charters, own the sailboat that was used as the home for the character Sonny Crockett on “Miami Vice.”

Sonny Crockett slept here.

Right here, inside this 42-foot Endeavour sailboat, owned by a Key West couple and used for private charters.

Played by Don Johnson, Crockett had a pet alligator, Elvis, and starred in the classic “Miami Vice,” the seminal 1980s crime drama that introduced the world to pastel suits and perfectly shaped beard stubble.

The yacht is docked at an inconspicuous dock in Key West. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

That sailing yacht, the St. Vitus Dance, is now docked at an inconspicuous slip at the Key West Historic Seaport. It’s part of a three-boat charter company, Key West Sailing Adventure, owned by Albert Tropea and Ronda Rinald. Tropea has had the charter business since 1995.

“All these famous butts used to sit on this rail,” Rinald said Tuesday morning, as she welcomed a visitor to sit near the helm. “I remember scenes where bikini butts were all over this.”

Three months ago, they bought the “Miami Vice” boat from a local couple — it was sitting on nearby Stock Island — after Hurricane Irma. The price: $39,000, knocked down from $100,000 pre-storm. Then they poured thousands into the boat to repair storm damage.

The upholstery and cushions in the living room had to be replaced by the Key West couple who now owns the sailboat. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

They were familiar with it. Four years ago, they had rented the boat — and Rinald fell for it.


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Don Johnson, left, seen here with acting partner Philip Michael Thomas, walked around the boat as Crockett for five seasons on the NBC series that premiered on Friday nights in 1984 Miami Herald File

“I said, ‘This is my boat,’ ” she recalled. “We borrowed it for a week four years ago and I fell in love. I know this is my boat.

“ I think it was the mystique about the show, first of all. It’s sexy. I mean look at the way she’s shaped.”

Johnson walked around the boat as Crockett for five seasons on the NBC series, which aired Friday nights from 1984 to 1990. Rinald watched it religiously.

Tropea, a 25-year resident of Key West who spent time in Key Largo, too, is originally from Wildwood, New Jersey. He has a degree in psychology and worked in psychiatric hospitals in Boston as a young man.

“It was the fact that the hospitals were out to make money, just like every other business,” he said, of why he left.

The sailboat has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

He went home to New Jersey and, while wondering aloud what he would do next, a friend suggested he go sailing for a living, sending him to a contact in Fort Lauderdale. Soon, Tropea was working on a 103-foot schooner.

“I worked on the boat all day and studied at night and I was a captain in a year and a half,” he said.

At 73, he remains a lifelong sailor, having sailed the Greek Islands, the coast of Italy, the English Channel and other parts of the Globe, totaling 50,000 miles. He now sails with his first mate, Rinald, who was raised in Arkansas, and whom he met in Key West almost 20 years ago.

“We go to Cuba, we go to Mexico, we go to the Bahamas,” Tropea said of his charters. “We’ve been doing three to four-day trips. Those are our favorites. I really don’t like coming back to the dock once I leave. “

As for the name, St. Vitus Dance is an archaic term for a rare neurological disorder (It’s also a Black Sabbath song). The boat’s name on “Miami Vice” was also St. Vitus Dance.

St. Vitus was a Polish priest and is the patron saint of epileptics, dancers, comedians and actors. The couple isn’t sure how the 1985 sloop, which has a diesel engine and a five-foot draft, landed near Key West.

St. Vitus Dance is an archaic name for the rare neurological disease Sydenham’s chorea. This was the “Miami Vice” character Sonny Crockett’s boat on the 1980s crime-drama. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

But they’re thrilled to have a piece of television history.

“Boats have feels, they’re like people,” Tropea said. “ Some of them are cursed. This one is charmed. “

It’s is also in great shape.

“The generator only has 15 hours on it and the motor only has 1,500 hours on it,” Tropea said. “They used it as a prop. They never turned anything on so everything is newish.”

“We’re looking for an alligator,” Tropea said.

But the tribute to Elvis will be either a stuffed toy or a plastic replica.

The captain’s controls are framed by varnished teak wood. Gwen Filosa FLKeysNews.com

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