The Newly Rich are Getting Their Sea Legs

Billionaires have a new favorite outing.

Sean Craig
Image Credit: iStock, Alexe Marcel
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How about a little compassion for superyacht owners.

Poor David Geffen was savaged for a supposedly tone deaf Instagram post at the outset of the pandemic offering well wishes to the public from the idyllic comfort of his $590 million megayacht. Just look at all the grief Jeff Bezos got for merely proposing to temporarily dismantle a historic bridge in Rotterdam to make way for his $485 million vessel. And spare a thought for Elon Musk, who was taunted viciously online all because of this innocent snap.

Undaunted, America’s upper crust are taking to the high seas in record numbers. Memes and climate change be damned.

Sea Sick

Coastal towns like Nice, Portofino, and Monaco are glad to see them. Dozens of yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs have been seized by European and US authorities, robbing these destinations of their usual clientele and docking fees. But Bloomberg reports that a new wave of younger Americans — many of whom made their money the old-fashioned way (mostly 2 and 20 arrangements) — are more than filling the vacuum left in Russia’s wake:

  • Fraser Yachts, which arranges superyacht charters, told Bloomberg that bookings are up 32% from last year, with much of the growth coming from first-time guests. More than a third of Fraser’s business came from those new to yachting, up from 15% in prior years.
  • “Unlike a home, you’re not stuck in one place. And you can control the environment and test everyone for Covid if that’s a concern,” explained Mark Duncan, Fraser’s Director of Marketing and Business Development. Sensible.

At this point you are probably wondering, how much does it cost to dip your toe into this exclusive pond? Here are a few figures, to satisfy your curiosity: according to The New York Times a typical yacht of 300+ feet will run an average of $300 million (depending on finishings). Consider that your down payment. Owners can expect to spend an additional 10% of the original cost each year to maintain the vessel; docking fees alone can run $29,000 per week. Depending on how far the vessel travels, and the owner’s proclivity for air conditioning, gas can cost $1 million per year. And they say high gas prices only hit the working class.

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