I spent 3 years writing about yachts, and owning one takes way more money than you think

R_Pilguj/ShutterstockReally, yachts are just floating money.

  • A yacht costs a lot more than the price its owner bought it for.
  • There are additional expenses, like yacht crew, dockage, fuel, and maintenance, that many people don’t think about.
  • Even many yacht crew wouldn’t own a superyacht if they could afford it because they’re so much money and work.

If there’s one thing I took away from spending three years writing for the yachting industry and attending the Monaco Yacht Show, it’s that buying a superyacht is the absolute pinnacle of indulgence for the 1%.

You see, these behemoths of the sea cost a lot more than the price tag they come with thanks to the upkeep they require – it’s a series of neverending expenses. There’s what I like to call the Big Four that will easily wear down an owner’s black AmEx: yacht crew, dockage, fuel, and maintenance, among a host of other eye-popping costs.

Just ask the crew who work on yachts.

I once spent a day running up and down the docks at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show asking crew one question: Would you buy a boat if you were rich? The answer, overwhelmingly, was no. Those that said yes were new to the industry – my guess is that they just didn’t know better yet.

Because, really, yachts are just floating money.

Here’s how much it really costs to own a superyacht, which is generally defined as a boat at least 80 feet in length.


Generally, yachts over 100 feet cost $US1 million per 3.3 feet — and that’s not counting costs for upkeep.

Lucian BOLCA/Shutterstock

Source:
Forbes


Some older yacht models around 80 feet may sell for six figures, but a superyacht will most likely set you back by at least a few million. An 84-foot yacht can cost $US1.74 million, while a 295-foot yacht can cost $US45 million.

R_Pilguj/Shutterstock

Source:Fraser Yachts, Burgess


But that’s just the beginning — owners can expect to spend about 10% of the purchase price annually on operating and maintaining a yacht. That’s $US1 million a year for a $US10 million superyacht, although it varies.

Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Source:
Business Insider


The bigger the boat, the more crew — and salaries — you need. A 130-foot boat with five crew members can cost $US32,500 a month. Deckhands earn an average of $US3,083 to $US3,574 a month, depending on the boat size. Captains get paid more, earning an average of $US7,750 to $US19,961 a month.

MikeDotta/Shutterstock

Source: Freedom Yacht Services,Dockwalk


Yachts in Florida’s Broward County, a hub for for yachting, account for $US3 billion yearly in wages and earnings, reported Kate Lardy of the Sun Sentinel, citing a survey by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. That’s not counting yachts based internationally.

Naphassaphorn Na Pankaew/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


And don’t forget payment for dayworkers, who are hired temporarily for onboard services. A captain of a 178-foot yacht told Lardy he spent $US14,255 on dayworkers during the yacht’s two-month visit in Fort Lauderdale.

COLOMBO NICOLA/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


There are also other crew costs, like medical and liability insurance, training, and uniforms, the latter of which the captain told Lardy he spent $US11,190 on over two months.

R_Pilguj/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


In the two-month span, the captain also spent $US50,000 on provisioning for the upcoming charter season, including bounty for the yacht’s wine cellar.

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


When owners aren’t busy yachting in the Maldives or cruising to the Seychelles, they need a place to dock the boat — and fuel to get there. The captain also told Lardy he spent more than $US100,000 on fuel and dockage during the two-month visit.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


Fuel and docking can get even more expensive during an event like the Monaco Grand Prix.

Drozdin Vladimir/Shutterstock

Source:
Business Insider


Fuel can cost roughly $US400,000 a year — and that’s not just for the boat, but the toys that go along with it, like Jet Skis.

Drozdin Vladimir/Shutterstock

Source:
Florida Yacht Management


Dockage varies on how big the boat is and how desirable the marina is. An 80-foot boat can run $US1,200 a month, while a bigger boat in a more coveted slip can cost as much as $US6,000 monthly. A superyacht owner can expect to spend $US350,000 on dockage a year.

Dan Dennison/Shutterstock

Source: Freedom Yacht Services,Florida Yacht Management


Like many things, yachts get wear and tear — they require regular maintenance and repairs. Routine maintenance can cost roughly 2% of the boat value after the yacht’s first year, and around 7.5% of the boat’s value when the yacht is 10 years old.

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Source:
Freedom Yacht Services


The captain of the 178-foot yacht takes the yacht to Fort Lauderdale twice a year, where it always gets work done. In the two-month period, he spent $US142,746 on repair and maintenance, which he told Lardy is “typical.”

iMoved Studio/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


And regular maintenance doesn’t include the cost for periodic refits. One owner told Superyacht News he refitted his 98-foot yacht for more than $US1.1 million.

Naphassaphorn Na Pankaew/Shutterstock

Source:
Superyacht News


There’s also insurance, which can cost roughly $US240,000 a year, according to a report by Towergate Insurance.

Francois Durand/Getty Images

Source:
Towergate Insurance


And don’t forget miscellaneous expenses, such as communications (like navigation and Satellite TV) and administration (mail and office supplies, to name a few). The captain told Lardy he spent more than $US6,000 on admin costs during the two-month stay.

R_Pilguj/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


Overall, he spent $US643,164 during his stay in Florida. That’s nothing compared to the $US1.5 million he anticipated to spend for the yacht’s next stay in Fort Lauderdale, during which the yacht would undergo a condition inspection.

byvalet/Shutterstock

Source:
The Sun Sentinel


All of this doesn’t count the cost of fun — superyacht owners love to throw soirees, especially during events and boat shows. During the Cannes Film Festival, Paul Allen traditionally throws a party on his yacht, Octopus, complete with guests like Kate Moss and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Source:
Boat International Media


With superyacht parties, you can usually count on costs for food (or hiring a celebrity chef), alcohol, a DJ, and décor.

Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Source:
Boat International Media


Owners can recoup some of these expenses by chartering their yacht. A 205-foot yacht with a $US3.5 million annual operating budget can charge $US425,000 a week. The price can vary on season and yacht size and includes costs for food and drink, fuel, harbour fees and dockage, and delivery fees.

pixelrain/Shutterstock

Source:Forbes, Boat International

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