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Brewing (and it is not your coffee…)

by John Curnow, Global Editor, Powerboat-World.com 17 Aug 2020 00:00 PDT
Superyachts at anchor in Rose Bay in Sydney Harbour © John Curnow

Out in the Pacific, time can get a little rubbery. It is why it is a holiday destination par excellence. OK, blue waters, sandy beaches, palm trees, fish, gentle breezes and a whole lot of other things add into it, but back in the real world it is tick-tock. Tick-tock. Yes, that relentless master that many have sought to tame, and none have ever been close to conquering, rules above all else.

Essentially, there are something like 70 superyachts somewhere between the Galapagos Islands and the Great Southern Land. They have been heading this way for a thing that is known as the 36th America's Cup. Now whether that goes ahead as a public event, or not, remains a point of conjecture right now. Either way it does not matter a whole lot, as the TV rights were sold ages ago, so we won't miss out too badly.

No. What the whole point here is that come October, the insurers of those superyachts are going to want to have them South of the Tropic of Capricorn, well ahead of the cyclone season. By the by, Pantaenius is Europe's largest insurer of superyachts. At any rate the team at Pantaenius' Australian office are looking forward to meeting and assisting crews with policies from the family company's European offices.

Back to the boats' locations now, and ordinarily that would not be too much of a concern, but the current scenario offers up a wee bit of a problem.

Firstly, us Antipodeans do not have an International Yacht Club de Antibes, or Port Hercule in Monaco. We just don't have large superyachts (now known as gigayachts), and importantly for our case under review, nor the Euro-style places to park them. Yes, we'll get the 30, 40 and even 50m craft all tucked away, but as for the 60s, 70s and even beyond, well????

Now here is Australia, we might have 8-10 of these at best. Oh come on, I hear you say, but you do have to remember that white boats and commercial quays go together about as well as a catwalk model in heels, and an open cut quarry. You see in these here parts we are far more used to great white sharks, and much less so great white boats...

Right now there are party boats and tourism craft tied to finger wharfs at Barangaroo just Sou'west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and as they are presently unused, they could vacate to offer up their places to the jewels of the sea, but there are a lot of conversations and deals to be done in order to have that eventuate.

As for elsewhere, well Cairns is out, as too Airlie Beach, because of the season, and that leaves you with Brisbane, the Gold Coast to some degree (draft and length), Newcastle (ish - and think quarry again), and then Sydney. Melbourne's out as it battles COVID, and Tasmania is happy being isolated and disease free. Anywhere else starts to get too far from the deal across 'The Ditch' (aka Tasman Sea), and also has isolation on its side like Tasmania.

That leaves New Zealand itself, and having just gone back into total lockdown, it remains unlikely at best. Even boats able to leave now and with full documentation to be there as support vessels for said regatta have been denied access. True, some have just started getting through, however.

David Good the CEO of Superyacht Australia spelt it out. "Our Government has passed new charter laws last year, in time for the expected increase in yachts coming to the region for the America's Cup. We should be able to achieve some charter activity happening here as it warms up."

"Tahiti and Fiji are great stepping-stones, and are currently open for guests and owners to join vessels, this should assist in keeping the vessels occupied in the region in the short term. Long term we need the Kiwis to allow entry for vessels, and ultimately the owners and guests, in time for the America's Cup."

"We are open, but only to vessels, and we will recognise your time at sea towards the 14 days isolation period required for arrival into Australia. We are working on procedures to allow owners, guests and charterers to fly in and enjoy remote cruising, in order to provide an option for vessels once the monsoon period approaches and vessels want to leave Fiji and Tahiti."

"It is also important to remember that a 50m vessel and its crew adds AUD5k a day spend into the town or city they are berthed at, and this is all without the guests being on board."

Now thank you Dorothy Dicks there, because David has covered off an important point. How do we account for owners, guests, and charterers? Right now they are excluded form entry, unless they arrive on the vessel itself. Special dispensation could be applied for to allow them to land, go straight to their own boat and do self-isolation, but there has not been a test case thus far.

Alternatively, they could send the boat up to Singapore for example (and run the gauntlet of the weather), board and then make passage for New Zealand, assuming they could get in. That means they could be on board for 6-10 weeks minimum, and so the question is, just how many of them have that kind of time to spare? OK, maybe now they do, but traditionally it is 1-2 weeks at a time at best for the vast majority, even those sending their boat on a circumnavigation.

So it might be a good problem to have, but it sure as going to be a really interesting situation to watch unfold!

Show me the money

You do not have to look too far to find some new stat about either the increase in production of boats, especially in the USA, the number of enquiries about new and second-hand vessels, or indeed people speculating and hypothesising about all the people now considering going boating for the first time ever. You shake things up, and you will create a new paradigm, after all...

Yet not everyone can put the cold hard readies (cash) down to secure their new lifestyle. Some do have to secure the necessary fun tickets from elsewhere. That's called borrowing, and in these super-low interest times, why not? Back in 2018 we ran this item from BoatUS that looked at the highs and lows of loans, and it would seem Google has a memory too.

Having seen that piece, Nicole Gallina from Finder.com reached out for our USA readers, and wanted to share their guide, that looks at:

  • How boat loans work
  • How much you can borrow
  • How to apply for a boat loan
  • Compares personal loans you can buy a boat with

    Finder.com's loan expert, Anna Serio, added, "Most boat loan providers offer up to 90% and 100% financing with rates starting around 5%, and terms as long as 20 years. But not everyone — or every boat — can qualify for this. The lowest rates typically go to borrowers with an excellent credit score of 760 or higher who are buying an expensive new boat."

    "And while you can get 100% financing with terms as long as 20 years, that will cost you more. That's because interest is based on your loan balance, and adds up over time. The higher your loan balance the more you'll pay. And the longer you take to repay the more expensive the loan will be. Experts generally recommend that you save up enough at least for a 20% down payment and go for the shortest term your budget allows to save on your loan."

    Now obviously the higher up the scale you go the less likely it is for someone to have finance involved directly in the transaction. I asked Maritimo's America's President, Dave Northrop, about it all to see what is happening in the burgeoning middle to high sector. "We have seen a slight increase in financing, and I understand marine finance in general is experiencing record demand. Normally, only a small percentage of our buyers use finance. Lately, however, rather than sell investments while the market in recovering, buyers choose to borrow at current low rates, and wait for the market to recover."

    "All in all the market remains very active, with some softening around COVID-19 hot spots, primarily due to the challenges of travel."

    Lauren Cordell also provided us with some well-considered tips for funding your whole nautical escape, including choosing not only the right boat, but also the right kind of financier for your dreams

    Impressive boats

    Julien Melot, the CEO of Azura Marine was pretty chuffed recently. He had reason to be. Me? Well I just paused for a good long while when I saw this image of the Aquanima 40 off Bali's über-famous surfing hotspot, Uluwatu. I was probably bobbing around in the water of the Indian Ocean, and just smiling at just how long it will be before we can get back there to do it again. Hello, new order...

    Anyway, Melot said of their accomplishment, "Completing the 220nm circumnavigation of Bali in relatively inclement weather conditions with our first Aquanima 40 pure solar electric catamaran, without using a single drop of fossil fuel, felt exhilarating. At the same time we were not that surprised. We knew the boat was well designed and the technology well mastered. What is for sure is that this is a remarkable milestone for the yachting world and a grand step towards true eco-yachting."

    Pretty boats

    Maritimo's X50R certainly qualifies under this sub-heading, and it sits smartly on it's own hull as not only attractive, but purposeful too. We had a ball running this boat off Queensland's Gold Coast before that State once again shut its doors. In some ways it almost felt like a recon mission...

    Saxdor's 320 GTO showed us how far the axe bow has penetrated design thinking these days, and it is one stylish vessel.

    Yet it was the Netherland's Vanquish Yachts VQ80 Sportsfisherman, which is actually a 'tender' to the owner's 60m Heesen superyacht, that really set my mind to thinking. I was instantly lost to the fishing grounds off the East Coast of Papua New Guinea, or 'The Wall' in the Arafura Sea. 330nm range at 48 knots speaks in volumes to me, and I'll be interested to see how surface drives on a fish boat turns out (Hint. Hint.)

    OK. Today you will find that the site has an abundance of material from right across the globe, and if you cannot find something, just try the search button right up the top of the landing page, above our logo.

    So as you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

    Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other parts of the group, go to the top of the Powerboat-World home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the site you want to see and, voila, it's all there for you.

    Speak with you again, very, very soon.

    John Curnow
    Global Editor, Powerboat-World.com

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