Nothing personifies the South Florida luxury lifestyle quite like boating. Whether you’re on a gorgeous, custom mega-yacht, one of the new luxury fishing boats to hit the market or even a posh runabout, there’s nothing like the experience of having the wind blowing through your hair, the warm sun shining on you, and the salt-laced ocean spray splashing around you.
Most custom yacht owners have owned numerous vessels and therefore have built a solid knowledge base. But even if you’re a first-time buyer, you can commission a company such as AMB Design Consulting Group (ambdesigngroup.com) to carry you from dream to concept to design to construction. “We specialize in very large yachts, usually up to around 80 meters (262 feet), says AMB founder Arthur Barbeito. We have our own design team of naval architects and work with shipyards around the world.”
Barbeito also is a founder and partner of Dynasty Yachts (megayachtgroup.com), whose huge shipbuilding facility is in Wuhan, China. Though not as well known as some other Asian builders, “Dynasty offers owners who are willing to venture into a new and exciting economic and cultural environment a cost-effective alternative to many European facilities,” says Barbeito.
As you’d expect, the market for super yachts stands as comparatively small next to smaller yachts in the 35- to 100-foot range. Today’s recreational marine industry could hardly be more international. The dramatically successful Van Dutch Yachts serve as a perfect example. Started in 2008 as a Netherlands company building avant-garde vessels from the designs of Dutch naval architect Frank Mulder, Van Dutch has sold hundreds of its high-speed boats around the world. Last year, Van Dutch struck a deal with Wisconsin’s Marquis Yachts to build its 30-, 40-, 40 Walk-Around, 45-, 55- and 70-foot models. That makes the upscale Van Dutch more affordable to the American buyer who can now avoid overseas shipping costs and currency exchange fees as well as potential delivery delays.
The luxury sport-fishing yacht niche remains a remarkably steady business segment, even during difficult economic downturns. These vessels rival many of the super yachts in comfort and technology, but they’re designed as the world’s most comfortable fishing “machines.” They can run from about 40 feet up to 130 feet long and cost between $1 million and $20 million. All are capable of surprisingly high speeds, yet most of the larger examples also afford extended range at slow speeds to allow the owners and crews to avail themselves of remote fishing spots.
As with other boats, you can choose to go the production boat route where the boat is built and, other than minor interior changes, it is what it is. Or you can start from scratch and build a custom boat exactly to your specifications. Production builders in this genre include Viking, Hatteras, Buddy Davis and Egg Harbor – all iconic brands in business for decades. Popular custom builders – located mostly in North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Central and South Florida – include Spencer, Bayliss, Paul Mann, Scarborough, Garlington, Jarrett Bay and Jim Smith, to name just a few. Contacting any of these companies can lead you to charter opportunities also, much like renting a car that you are considering buying.
Another market segment, smaller in vessel size but larger in volume sold, falls between 26 feet and 65 feet. Many of these vessels have from one to five outboard engines hanging on their transoms. Outboard power is easy to access for maintenance and the boats provide considerably more interior space, since the engines hang outside the boat rather than hiding under the deck. In general, these boats also now regularly top out at speeds higher than 50 mph, with some in the 70s. You might recognize some of these builders like Boston Whaler, Grady-White, Cigarette, Donzi and Chris Craft. These boats qualify as comfortable and stylish and employ the latest technology in construction and equipment. Just a look at the new Chris Craft Catalina 34 shows why these boats grow in popularity. Other reasons include sizes small enough to handle by oneself without crew and the ability to lift the boat up on a cradle behind your waterfront home.
No matter which type of boat you choose, rest assured that all the amenities you’ve become used to in your home are available – often as standard equipment – on your new boat.
The sailing industry’s much smaller numbers and gross sales than the powerboat industry don’t belie the fact that today’s sailboats have never been better designed nor built. Despite having a smaller market share than powerboats, sailboats have never been better designed nor better built than they are today. They’ve come a very long way in speed, comfort and durability since your grandfather’s sailboat.
Power or sail, big or little, boats today have never been safer or better built. Some are family cruisers, some racers and still others luxury statements. But consider them all very capable when it comes to seaworthiness.
Yacht Shows Oversees, A roundup of the most notable.
If you’d like to clarify the kind of yachting that most appeals to you, the world’s great boat shows offer the best overviews of what’s available. You can go to one of several of the planet’s largest boating and yachting displays right here in South Florida. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, held each fall, qualifies as the largest boat show in the world. In 2014, it exhibited more than $4 billion worth of yachts from 15 feet to more than 200 feet long.
Fort Lauderdale and Miami are America’s premier shows, while Europe boasts Monte Carlo and Genoa. Remember, too, that numerous shows that don’t include in-water exhibits also exist around the world.
At the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, several boats worth noting debuted. In alphabetical order, they include:
Benetti Veloce 140
The Benetti Veloce 140, the queen of this year’s Lauderdale show, represents the first in the company’s new fast displacement-hull mega yachts. The Veloce 140’s unique hull design allows it to reach planing speeds of 20+ knots without sacrificing traditional displacement hull stability.
Enticing features include an intimate lounging area on the bow deck, a large, full-beam gym on the main deck forward, followed by a dining room for 12 and large main salon aft. Below-deck accommodations include the owner’s cabin, two double-bed cabins and two additional cabins equipped with twin and Pullman beds.
Subsequent examples of the Veloce 140 line are currently under construction, with the second yacht in the series expected to launch before year’s end. Visit benettiyachts.it for more details.
Ferretti Altura 840
The Ferretti Group, Italy’s largest boat-building conglomerate, introduced the
Altura 840 this fall. A notable departure from the usual Ferretti profile, the interior still treats you to a stunning and stylish ambience. Ambient light throughout the main deck is nothing short of amazing thanks to some strong, laminated-glass balustrades. A large window in the dining area opens for an al fresco feeling.
Below decks, Ferretti provides accommodations for eight in four cabins. All guests reside forward while the massive master suite rests aft by itself for ultimate privacy. In fact, the Altura is only the second aft-cabin boat in Ferretti’s history.
The Altura 840 may look docile and comfy, but make no mistake, it handles rough seas with aplomb. Visit ferrettigroupamerica.com.
Hatteras 100 Raised Pilothouse Motor Yacht
Hatteras holds the distinction of building the first fiberglass boat. The company has come a very long way since then, building both highly esteemed sport fishing yachts and luxurious cruising motor yachts. An impressively large aft deck and mammoth salon make relaxing and entertaining a breeze. Another feature you rarely find on any motor yachts these days can be found on the 100 RP – a master stateroom on the main deck! Throughout the interior, you’ll find exotic hard woods, old-world craftsmanship, granite countertops and Hatteras’s signature elegant décor, which are sure to convince your distaff side that you need a new yacht. Visit Hatterasyachts.com.
Monte Carlo 86
The Monte Carlo 86 (built by Beneteau, the largest boat builder in the world today) had its premiere at the Monte Carlo Boat Show this past summer. At 86 feet long with a 21-foot beam, this yacht can carry an owner and guests in lavish luxury anywhere they choose to go. Though not the fastest yacht on the market, the 24-knot cruising speed and 7,100-gallon fuel capacity assure that remote spots far from the madding crowds now lie within reach.
Beautiful interiors decorated with rich fabrics by Hermès, Armani, Poltrona Frau and Pierre Frey along with rare woods and materials such as white alabaster from Volterra, cedarstone marble, moka cream limestone and handmade Venetian mosaics by Murano glass make every area one of a kind. Every interior will certainly exceed even the most demanding tastes.
Unique deck and seating areas afford multi-tasking ability for dining, sunning, partying and yes, hot tubbing. A favorite design element can be found in each hull side. Large sections of the hull open outward on hydraulic rams, providing exquisite “patios” and unobstructed views from the interior. And so you don’t feel confined below in your master stateroom, it extends the full 21-foot-width of the vessel with his and hers heads, huge walk-in closet and even a study. For more information, visit montecarloyachts.it.
Viking 92 EB
Viking Yachts, a 50-year-old builder in New Gretna, N.J., creates incredibly seaworthy and fast sport fishing yachts. The Lauderdale show witnessed the debut of the company’s largest fishing machine to date – the 92 Enclosed Bridge.
Compare the 24-foot beam of this 92-footer with those of comparably sized motor yachts and you’ll discover that this fishing yacht offers measurably more interior volume space. One look at the salon with its formal dining area, full galley (with a walk-in pantry), and a day head tells you that.
Amidships houses a full-beam-width master cabin featuring sculpted port lights, a sitting area, a state-of-the-art entertainment system, maple-lined walk in closet, vanity and his and her heads.
Accommodations for eight additional guests plus separate crew quarters mean you’ll need to be particularly creative when coming up with excuses for not taking your in-laws along. Vikingyachts.com will take you to the company website.
Q & A with Jorge Luis Del Rosal, president of Yacht Advisors (yachtadvisors.com)
SFLG: What does Yacht Advisors do for its clients?
DEL ROSAL: Yacht Advisors helps people find the right boat. With more than 25 years of experience in the yachting industry, my company handles anything a yachting client might need, from refurbishing an existing yacht to brokerage and new boat construction. I grew up cruising aboard yachts with my family, so I have an understanding of even the smallest details that an owner would have.
SFLG: What sets Yacht Advisors apart from the rest?
DEL ROSAL: My knowledge of the mechanical and technical aspect of each boat as well as my desire to give you an unbiased and honest opinion sets me apart from others — especially since I don’t work with any one particular builder or yard, though I certainly have excellent relationships with all of them.
My philosophy is to provide a more “hands-on” approach in a “boutique–like” environment — one where personal attention is unsurpassed. My goal is to get you the best vessel to fit your personal lifestyle and, of course, to make sure you’re happy.
SFLG: What would you consider your primary goal when working with a client?
DEL ROSAL: Problem-solving is our greatest challenge as well as our best learning tool. What happened, why did it happen, and how do we fix it? That resolution will let us either avoid it in the future on any other boats or fix the problem more quickly.
SFLG: Does Yacht Advisors have a particular niche?
DEL ROSAL: We specialize in vessels 100 to 180 feet. But among those owners we often also have family members with smaller boats that we work alongside as well. Interestingly, we have reached the point where we have a captive audience that keeps referring clients to us. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you do a good enough job with your clients that they want to share that fact with like-minded friends.
SFLG: What would you say stands as the most significant recurring problem among yacht owners?
DEL ROSAL: Finding a good crew is quite difficult. Once aboard a yacht, you can’t necessarily get off and take a cab home. Living in close quarters with employees presents a unique psychological challenge. That’s why when you find truly good crew, you take really good care of them, and they usually move with the owner from boat to boat.
SFLG: When a client comes to see you for the first time, what can they expect?
DEL ROSAL: I invite them to lunch. I need to discover their wants, their needs, dislikes, lifestyle, family size, where they plan to use the boat, etc. I need to completely immerse myself in their lifestyle. Then I’ll take them to a marina where we walk around so I can see what catches their eye, both style- and size-wise. Finding the right fit is my ultimate goal, and the challenging part is that, more often than not, the right fit is not what they are dreaming of or telling me they want. Dreams and needs are often different. There’s much more to finding exactly the right yacht for someone than simply what looks good.
SFLG: What would make you suggest building a custom boat versus buying a production hull?
DEL ROSAL: Size is important when choosing between production and custom. Resale is equally important. An owner always needs a way out without a significant economic loss — and I would never advise going the custom route as a first boat.
SFLG: Is one place in the world better than any other for buying a yacht?
DEL ROSAL: South Florida is the most efficient place in the world to buy a yacht of any size or type. There’s so much diversity here that you can always find what you want. Plus, boating is practically embedded in the South Florida lifestyle!
CHARTER A NEW COURSE
Buying a yacht involves considerably more than just the initial capital. The rule of thumb regarding annual operating costs is 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price. Obviously the larger and more expensive the vessel, the greater the annual expense. These expenses include (but are not limited to) insurance, fuel, maintenance, repair, crew, insurance, food, entertainment expenses and so on. But what if you could spend a fraction of that and enjoy every bit of the pampering, adventure and sybaritic pleasure that owning such boats provides?
If you’d like to discover just how far your passion for yachting extends, try chartering. In this milieu, large yachts come complete with a crew who will cater to your every need. You can expect accommodations, food and service to far exceed your best five-star-hotel experiences. These charters obviously don’t come cheap. But consider that you always have numerous cabins aboard and when you invite like-minded friends to join you (and split the cost) — suddenly that cost for a trip of a lifetime becomes more feasible. Generally boats charter in northern climes during summers and the tropics in winter. So if you’ve always wanted to sail the Mediterranean, the Greek isles, the western coast of Turkey, Scandinavia, the British Isles, New England or Alaska next summer, you can find just the right boat for you in all of those spots. Prefer to escape the winter doldrums? How about the Bahamas or Caribbean, Mexico, Florida Keys or the Central American coasts of Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua or Costa Rica? Perhaps the South Pacific is higher on your bucket list. You’ll find superb swimming, diving, fishing and every other watersport imaginable at each of these destinations. And remember, the second largest barrier reef in the world stretches from Honduras up to Mexico in the Caribbean. For information on chartering big boats, visit charterwave.com.
Limited-passenger or “boutique” cruise vessels might pique your interest if you like cruises but want to try something a tad different. Choose from numerous vessel sizes and passenger numbers as well as cruising destinations. Google “Boutique Cruises” in the part of the world you’d like to see.
You have another possibility if you already have some sailing/boating experience. It’s called bareboat chartering. That means you run the boat without crew to cook, clean or navigate. Of course, “bareboating” costs considerably less than a crewed charter, and for some it can be more liberating. For more information, subscribe for free to chartersavvy.com.
Fractional ownership, a relatively recent trend in yachting, appeals to people who want the independence of owning their own boat and dictating where to go but don’t really want to (or can’t) quite swing the expense. These deals basically equate to time-shares on the water. They’ve become very popular and today many yacht builders, yacht brokerage firms and charter companies offer such arrangements. One noteworthy Italian company, Curvelle (curvelle.com), offers a popular syndicate ownership program for its beautiful power catamarans. Google “Fractional Yacht Ownership” for more information.
You can also take advantage of another vacation concept growing rapidly in popularity – the educational vacation. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail or drive a powerboat or even a race boat at more than 100 mph, a school exists to satisfy your requirements. Offshore and Annapolis sailing schools are just two of many well-established and multi-location companies. Chapman’s in Stuart, Fla., and US Powerboating are two excellent resources. If you would rather enjoy the peace and quiet sailing affords, visit ussailing.org for a plethora of learning opportunities around the country.
One final, very affordable possibility to consider — boat owner clubs let you sort of own and sort of rent. Three main players in this arena include Carefree Boat Club (carefreeboats.com), Freedom Boat Club (freedomboatclub.com) and Ultimate Boat Clubs (ultimateboatclubs.com), and each offers different types of vessels and numerous different locations from which to choose.