Yachts Are for More Than Lounging

Yachts — the mere word connotes luxury and easy living. They are a symbol of wealth second only to private jets.

But a new generation of younger owners is disrupting travel on the high seas. The changes are affecting how yachts are built and chartered, where they go and what crews are expected to do. Sitting on a 150-foot yacht in the Mediterranean is nice, but some think taking a superyacht to the North Pole is more adventurous.

At the same time, spending $100 million on a yacht and taking off to parts unknown is not as easy as some newly rich entrepreneurs may believe. Insurance companies might balk. If owners are unaware of the importance of where their boat is registered, the yacht may sail under less stringent maritime requirements that could cause problems later. And if the crew is not properly selected and managed, the owner may wind up with legal and human resources claims.

Let’s start with some basics on superyachts. They are usually more than 200 feet long and loaded with amenities. The must-have feature is a beach club, an opening at the back of the boat where watercraft and toys can be launched, or people can lounge by a pool bar with a view of the water.

As the boats got bigger, people lost a little bit of touch with the water,” said Jonathan Beckett, chief executive of Burgess, a yacht management, brokerage and charter firm.

As nice as that sounds, a superyacht is usually not practical to own if used just a few weeks a year. To stay sharp, boats need to be run and crews need to work. And annual expenses could be $10 million to $15 million, said Graeme Lord, owner of Fairport Yacht Support. When the boat is refitted, the costs start at $10 million, he added.

Chartering is an option instead. Among the most popular superyachts on the market is the Titania, which is 240 feet long and sleeps 12 people in seven cabins. It is owned by John Caudwell, a British businessman who made his billions from mobile phone technology.

Mr. Caudwell said he could use his yacht only three or four weeks a year, so instead of letting it sit idle, he worked to make it a top chartering experience.

“It was always going to be charter first,” he said. “I had the ambition to make it the best because I’m proud of what I do. I wanted service levels second to none. It was about personal pride.”

Last year, the Titania was among the most chartered superyachts, spending 20 weeks ferrying paying guests around the world. It costs $495,000 a week, not including an additional 25 percent to 30 percent for food, fuel and tips for the crew. The weekly summer rate climbs to $725,000.

Article Source: NY Times