A life-long superyacht fan reveals the beauty and challenges of bringing a mega yacht to life

This Sunday, August 27, I will fly from DC to Bermuda to attend the 55th International Lauderdale Yacht Show, one of the world’s largest boats and sports event. This year, more than 100 yachts…

A life-long superyacht fan reveals the beauty and challenges of bringing a mega yacht to life

This Sunday, August 27, I will fly from DC to Bermuda to attend the 55th International Lauderdale Yacht Show, one of the world’s largest boats and sports event.

This year, more than 100 yachts will parade through the city docks at the southern end of Main Street in the oldest continuously operating American city in the Caribbean, making it the largest harbor in the world for sailboats.

All of these yachts have to be huge. They have to be built in the middle of nowhere and certainly never seen in person. Even the world’s largest superyacht, the Herculean Eclipse, which cost some $360 million and took more than two years to build, is said to have been built for a billionaire who is certain to be too blind to notice it anyway.

Of course, the yachts most people know are the massive new yachts that are just less than a mile long. Others are added every week. The largest is a soon-to-be completed megayacht known as MegaQia, the target of some international legal brouhaha because several unidentified Russian oligarchs own it. But that is the type of boat that signifies we are seeing the modern super yacht market move from the fishing docks of the early 20th century to the boardrooms of the 21st century.

That market is undergoing some profound changes. Last year, the world’s largest yacht was 399 feet long and cost about $350 million. It had the right bells and whistles for the billionaire with the right jewelry, but its control systems are out of the question in the high seas.

This year, the most lavish new superyacht was 257 feet and will cost about $400 million. It has all the bells and whistles, including a fully air-conditioned 100-foot whirlpool bathroom with a shower, an enclosed viewing platform, a jacuzzi, marble flooring and a two-story glass observation deck. But its computer controls are so sophisticated that they will be impossible to hear over the roar of the propellers that will carry you from the docks to the ocean floor.

What all these expensive yachts have in common, besides the owners’ name, is the fact that they need to be carried on their own, not a ship, and each one has a catered dinner for 150 people every night.

One thing that the superyachts share is that most are specially built for one person by the one person who designed them. When this large-scale interiors were conceived in the 1930s and 1940s, just the idea of getting a yacht built for one person was challenging enough. But in the ’80s when big ships started to dominate the market, few could figure out how to make a superyacht smaller without giving it the functionality of a ginormous cruise ship.

So while all these yachts are ridiculously big, they are also unique. Instead of a plate of mixed cheeses sitting atop the cook’s sink or using a dishwasher that probably has plenty of space, you are likely to find champagne bottles chocked up with hot chocolate, mounds of sizzling foods and of course your own suite in the master suite.

Leave a Comment