JOE DOCKERY, Boat Owner: It's nice to finally be able to see it completed, boy, and it has been two and a half years.
KWAME HOLMAN: Joe Dockery is, in a word, rich, on this particular day, rich enough to take delivery on this 72-foot sailing yacht, custom-designed and built by Alden Yachts of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Cost: $2 1/2 million.
JOE DOCKERY: I'm very content. It looks just super.
KWAME HOLMAN: These are the carpenters, fiberglass, and metal workers, electricians who actually did the work. Most are first and second generation Portuguese, skilled craftsmen with a specialty in boat-building. They are not rich, but their glad Joe Dockery is. His one order alone kept 20 workers employed full-time at Alden for two and a half years. And that's not counting the subcontractors who built the 100-foot carbon-fiber mast, molded the lightweight high-tech hull, and sewed the sails. Tony Abreau made all the customized stainless steel pieces.
TONY ABREAU, Metal Worker: This big piece over there cost between five and six thousand dollars.
KWAME HOLMAN: Joe Dockery, who owns a string of successful car dealerships in New Jersey, didn't hesitate to choose Alden to build his boat. In fact, this is his second Alden. That's his first, a 54-footer now for sale. But Dockery wouldn't even consider having his new boat built here or anywhere else in the United States until Congress repealed the federal luxury tax on boats. That tax would have cost him about $240,000, a bill he could afford but refused to pay.
JOE DOCKERY: You're being chosen as a special person to pay extra, and I didn't see the logic behind it. I found it insulting. I was very close to building a boat in Finland, I mean, very close.
KWAME HOLMAN: According to David MacFarlane, president of Alden Yachts, Dockery's order brought the company back from the brink of collapse. MacFarlane thinks back to November 1990, when President Bush and the Democratic majority in Congress agreed to levy the luxury tax. He says he still can't believe they did it.
DAVE MacFARLANE, Alden Yachts: I don't know anybody in the Marine industry that didn't know that there was a total disaster to start, and it's still amazing to think how somebody could come up with an idea that would shut off a business, and everybody that was in the business knew this would happen, and yet it floated right through.