N2 People Skills

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Smart Money - First time Super Yacht Owner ?

Popular Super Yacht builders in the Netherlands, Germany, UK and other countries may well be drawing long sighs, as rarely a week goes by without seeing an announcement of a price reduction of a previously owned Super Yacht. These happenings are somewhat mirrored in the Luxury property market, as price drops are to be found in many multi-million dollar luxury homes. 

The front page of the weekend ‘House & Home’ section of the Financial Times (March 5th), has an article titled ‘Follow the smart money’, and looks at property prices away from the main ‘hot locations in the world'. They enlighten the reader as to some price reductions of around 30% in the last year, with some select home prices dropping by 40% over the past 3 to 4 years.
Who’s buying ?  The FT writes, “The type of buyer is changing from older, wealthy people to younger bargain-hunters prepared to cast their net wider”.

The similarity to the Super Yacht market is in the price reductions, millions are being cut from price tags, and seemingly there are buyers out there. Whether they are getting great deals or not is hard to know, as final selling prices are not publicized, but in the March 2011’ issue of ‘ShowBoats International’, eight yachts were listed as ‘Recently Sold'. Seven out of the eight yachts listed combined for a total of $71.5M. “Leo Fun” a Proteksan-Turquoise Super Yacht of 177’ was not originally listed for sale, and so was not included in the total. But this certainly seems to say that the market while perhaps slow, is not dead.

Are these buyers the ‘younger bargain-hunters‘ ?  Are they the needed influx of owners that the industry needs to get it back up on the plane? Whether they are or not, one thing is known, there is a big pool of a previously owned Super Yachts available for purchase.

Buying a previously owned Super Yacht over a new build has always provided an advantage, a reduction in wait time. Here a buyer can gain in the region of a year and a half (from design to launch) in getting out on the water, and enjoying their Yacht. With price reductions rolling in, there is surely more opportunity than ever before for the first time Yacht owner to cast their net in the previously owned Yacht market and find good value for money.

Another bonus of a previously owned Super Yacht, is having the ability after purchase to take a short cruise before rushing into a yard (assuming your survey came back ok). Even if getting straight to a yard seems like a time savings event at first glance, it can actually work in the opposite direction if you miss just one of many important points.

Unless you previously chartered the Yacht you are buying (along with the crew you are going to employe), it is very hard to know what you really need to add or adjust, to create your perfect vision. You may know straight away what you aesthetically “don’t like” about your new Yacht, but taking a short cruise with the idea of feeling things out, will provide huge dividends in saved time, cost and stress. A mini-cruise/sea trial gives you the time, and the situations to asses some of the many vital points:

  • Does the layout work for you, and your style of cruising?
  • Do you have enough privacy, enough entertaining areas, are spaces how you like them?
  • Do the tenders meet your requirements, in fun and, or functionality?
  • Is your cabin as sound proof or light proof as you like it?
  • Can you sleep with the main generator going?
  • Is the AC up to your personal preferences?
  • Do your guest cabins suffer from any of the above?
  • Do you have the boarding arrangement set to work well where you plan to cruise?
  • Do you have the right awning set up, for your preference of sun, shade and relaxation?
  • Are your initial ideas right about special equipment and supplies, wine storage, gym etc
  • Do you like to have the latest equipment on the bridge?
  • Are you happy with the security set up, while in port, and at anchor (cameras etc) ?
  • Are you OK with or without zero speed stabilizers at anchor?
  • Are your Captain and crew (assuming they are technically qualified) up to your standards?
  • Can you get on with them (and they with you)?
  • Do they have all the skill you would prefer them to have?
The list could go on and on, but the last three items listed will probably have the most affect on your overall enjoyment of ownership, and offer the greatest return on investment.

Having a group of strangers suddenly looking after your every whim can take a little getting used to, and knowing they will be privy to your most personal requirements, can seem a little unusual if you are not accustomed to such close personal service. As your crew become more familiar you should start to feel more relaxed, confident, unperturbed, as if relaxing in a favorite chair or wearing a favorite tailored suit (or dress), as comfortable as a second skin. If you do not get this feeling on your mini cruise, then you might think about further crew training and development in soft skills, or people skills. Basically crew resource management.

Nobody needs to meet their shining new Yacht in the Med, Caribbean or other cruising grounds and realize that something is not quite right. Whether a cabin arrangement simply does not work, or they wished they had left the helicopter pad on, or they find out that the generator keeps their partner awake, or worse still, realize that while their crew is technically magnificent, their non technical people skills are just not up to your expectations.

If you are looking at owning, or have just bought a Super Yacht (especially the first time Super yacht owner), save yourself the heart ache and added costs later. Take a mini cruise with the view of finding out any shortcomings before you go in for a refit, or before sending your Yacht off to your chosen cruising grounds.