Blog | Understanding the Costs of Yacht Ownership

March 28, 2022

Understanding the Costs of Yacht Ownership

Modern superyachts are a luxury with the latest in entertainment, travel, propulsion, and technology. Some come with standard features and fixtures, but most of them are customized to the owner’s preferences. The true cost of owning a superyacht depends on many factors. Here’s what you should know before you jump into the deep end.

The real cost of owning a superyacht

Superyachts are yachts with an overall length (LOA) of 78 feet or more. There are two main costs to consider. Initially, there’s the purchase price of the yacht, which includes the cost, title, and registration. This is followed by the price of maintaining the yacht. Many brokers say to plan on annual costs equal to 10% of the yacht’s purchase price, but this is true only in a small number of cases. In reality, annual maintenance costs can range anywhere from 5% to 30% of a yacht’s purchase price.

Factors such as the usage, brand, type of propulsion, and vessel age can swing your costs either way for seemingly similar yachts. Buyers should evaluate the different operating costs beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

Types of operating costs 

Operating costs refer to the day-to-day expenses of maintaining a yacht to a reasonable standard. There is some flexibility in these costs, but caution must be exercised when reducing them, as it can affect the yacht’s performance in the long term. Typically, a yacht’s operating costs fall into five major categories.

Dockage fees

Storage is an important consideration when you own a superyacht. Factors such as the location, season, and facilities provided by a marina affect your final harbor fees. Usually, they are expressed on a dollars-per-foot basis for the LOA of a vessel. An average superyacht sails for about seven weeks a year, in which case the owner can opt for long-term dockage, which is considerably cheaper than transient rates.

Fuel costs

The age, location, usage, and type of propulsion (engine, sail, or hybrid) will determine a vessel’s fuel expenses. Smaller yachts can bunker about 1,300 gallons at a time, while larger superyachts can bunker over 100,000 gallons. At the current price of $3.60/gallon for MGO, it costs a minimum of $4,700 to fill the tank. You can, however, reduce these costs by refueling further away from popular marinas and cruising at recommended speeds.

Crew salaries

A superyacht experience is best enjoyed when you have a competent crew that delivers value, but that value rarely comes at a low cost. A typical captain will garner wages between $1,000-$1,700 per foot per year based on experience and licenses held. Besides a captain, an owner should also expect to pay the salaries of other crew members, which vary by vessel but can include deck officers, engineers, stewards, and chefs.

 

The size and use of the vessel will determine how many crew members are required, with charter yachts typically requiring more crew members. Most owners also offer their crew benefits like health insurance and some even offer 401(k) plans. It’s not uncommon for crew compensation to exceed 50% of a yacht’s annual operating cost.

Maintenance and repair

Just like any other substantial investment, a superyacht must be maintained to safeguard its value and ensure dependable operation. This not only grants one peace of mind but also secures the safety of everyone on board. Frequent yacht usage requires regular preventive maintenance to keep the vessel in the best shape. A proper maintenance schedule saves tens of thousands of dollars over a yacht’s lifetime. A well-maintained yacht will also fetch a higher price should you decide to resell. 

Vessel insurance

Insuring your superyacht is financial protection against unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather, fire, theft, crew injury, and so on. These incidents would otherwise cost you an exorbitant amount. Premiums for superyacht insurance vary by cruising location, size, brand, record, age, crew number, toys on board, and whether the vessel will be chartered. A 78-foot superyacht in Fort Lauderdale for private use, for example, will cost about $11,000 in annual premiums.

The takeaway

Navigating the intricacies of yacht ownership can be a challenge for many buyers. One way to make this task simpler is to hire a yacht management company to handle tasks such as cleaning, painting, manning, maintenance, repairs, insurance, yard scheduling, and more. This liberates the buyer to enjoy the actual yachting experience.

Superyachts are synonymous with glamor and luxury, but owning one requires an ongoing investment. However, if you’re prepared for the real costs of ownership, it’s one of the greatest pleasures money can buy.

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