Damen’s 70-meter yacht support vessel ‘Game Changer’. Photo: Damen
By Devon Pendleton (Bloomberg) — Sailing from port to port in peace and seclusion on a multimillion-dollar boat sounds appealing, but as any seasoned yacht owner can tell you, just cruising around can get a bit, well, boring.
To fully enjoy your luxury vessel, you need diversions. Maybe a sailboat or fishing and diving gear. Possibly jet skis, a seaplane or perhaps a submarine. But where does one stash all that gear?
Enter the support yacht. It’s essentially a boat designed to trail your main yacht and carry all the toys you don’t want cluttering up the mothership. Pioneered in the 1990s from old offshore oil and gas craft, support yachts have become as slick as the vessels they’re intended to serve.
Dutch shipbuilder Damen has delivered a half-dozen 70-meter support yachts with premium finishes like high-specification air conditioning and entertainment systems that cost about $50 million. The Damen Yacht Support line starts at 46 meters and $14 million.
“A support yacht boosts the yachting experience in every way,” said Victor Caminada, marketing manager for Damen’s Amels division, which is exhibiting at next week’s Palm Beach International Boat Show. “Fun on the water, flexibility, spontaneity, more destinations. It’s very difficult and costly to achieve the same capability in one luxury yacht.”
The typical yacht only has room to store a few small leisure craft at most. To quickly access remote lagoons, dive sites and secluded beaches, wealthy vacationers may need limousine tenders for transfer to the marina, light aircraft, four-wheel drive vehicles, and of course “lots of jet skis,” Caminada said.
Having all those transport options is helpful in the case some guests want to go on an expedition while others would rather hang out on deck. Many support yacht can easily store a helicopter for shuttling guests back and forth and have helipads that make for a less disruptive landing and launch.
And they’re not just for heavy equipment. Support yachts can carry everything from spare provisions, laundry and fine china to garbage and waste water. To allow more privacy, the support craft could house cabins for staff or family office executives. These days the vessels are swank enough to even serve as overflow accommodations for guests. The in-laws, for example.
The boats also need to be equipped with high-performance deck cranes for deploying and retrieving all the toys, which can weigh as much as 10 tons each.
Even at $50 million, the support boats are a value proposition, according to Caminada.
“It’s far more economically viable to add a yacht support vessel than it is to upgrade a 50-meter superyacht to, say, a 90-meter to accommodate extra supplies and equipment,” he said. “The combination of a luxury yacht and support yacht is a much lower total cost of ownership.”
© 2019 Bloomberg L.P
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