Never heard of the word “superyacht” before? Don’t worry, a lot of other people have never heard of it either. That being said, sit back and relax as we tell you a few facts about these monstrous boats.
10. They’re Huge
As you probably guessed by the name, superyachts are, well, super in size. While there is no strict rule on the size of a superyacht, it is generally understood that they are at least 78 feet long. The world’s largest superyacht is known as the Azzam. Launched in 2013, the Azzam is 590 feet long, cost an estimated $600 million to build, and was constructed over the course of four years. It was built by Lürssen Yachts, with the exterior designed by Nauta Yachts and the interior designed by French designer Christophe Leoni. The Azzam belongs to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates.
9. They’re Loaded with “Toys”
Superyachts are the biggest, flashiest boats you can buy, and they come loaded with “toys.” Some come with a swimming pool, IMAX theater, jet skis, speedboat, helicopter, or personal submarine. The Onda 321L luxury service boat features two hand-stitched leather couches that are large enough for ten guests, air conditioning, a high-end entertainment system, an espresso machine, and a champagne cooler. That’s in addition to the large teak swim and boarding platform.
Then, there’s the Vida, a 180-foot-long boat with a master stateroom, five guest staterooms, a full gymnasium, and quarters for 13 crewmembers. It cost a whopping $50 million!
8. They Can Go Green
Superyachts are often seen as terrible for the environment. But, can these boats actually go green? The answer is yes. According to an article published by CNN, a superyacht dubbed “Black Pearl” was able to cross the Atlantic without using any fuel. While its main propulsion system is a diesel-electric hybrid, this boat has three giant sails that can be set in a matter of minutes at the push of a button. Once the boat is sailing, electricity is generated by its spinning propellers. This electrical energy is stored in batteries and used to power other onboard features.
Black Pearl also has an advanced waste heat recovery system, and its manufacturer is planning to develop solar sails in the future.
7. There are Hidden Costs for Owners
You already know that superyachts cost a pretty penny. But, what you may not know is that there are hidden costs associated with them. According to an article published by Bloomberg, superyacht owners spend $3 billion a year on hidden costs. For one thing, at full throttle, they can consume over 1,000 liters of fuel an hour. And, refueling can cost you around £395,000 (or about $439,000) each time! Once you factor in the money spent on dockage, maintenance fees, and crew salaries, superyacht owners typically pay 10 percent of their boat’s value every year in upkeep!
And, then there’s the issue of age. The older the boat, the higher its operating costs. Also, superyachts rarely go up in value over the years. In fact, they’re more likely to depreciate. And, unlike commercial ships, superyachts have no scrap value because they don’t have a lot of steel in their hulls. The steel in commercial ships can be sold for scrap and recycled.
6. They are Key to the Global Economy
According to an article published by Bloomberg, superyacht sales are key to the global economy. How so? They are often seen as a solid barometer of U.S. consumer spending. That’s because boat and yacht purchases are highly discretionary. As a result, the industry is nervous about a recent decline in boat purchases this year. Not only because the rich aren’t spending their discretionary income on them but also because the U.S. boating industry employs or helps sustain the jobs of more than 600,000 Americans. This slowdown in sales could mean one of two things: it’s either temporary or a sign of something serious, like the start of a recession.
5. Billionaires Use Them to Store Their Art Collections
Believe it or not, billionaires have admitted to using superyachts to store hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of art. But, as you probably guessed, this doesn’t come without its share of problems. Yes, the paintings can end up damaged — but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking. According to a report by The Guardian, one painting in a billionaire’s collection was damaged when his children threw cereal at it. It was further damaged after the crew, who thought it was just some painting and had no clue it was worth millions, wiped the cereal off. On another superyacht, a multimillion-dollar painting was damaged by a champagne cork. And, on yet another superyacht, a £75,000 lamp was accidentally broken when crew members began having a pillow fight.
4. They Help the Wealthy Avoid Paying Taxes
In case you were wondering why billionaires store their art collections on their superyachts instead of in their homes, we have the answer for you. It isn’t just because they want to brag about how much money they have. It’s also a way for them to avoid paying taxes. “In general, tax law favors the wealthy. Complexity favors the wealthy,” Tim Schneider, an art business reporter at Artnet News, told Vox.com. “Wealthy people are the ones who can afford to hire accountants and lawyers who can find all the loopholes. The more complex we get in terms of all of these different variances of international law and international bodies, whether it’s setting up offshore shell corporations and trusts or [buying] floating vessels that are robust enough that you can put high-value art on them, I think you have opportunities to unearth [tax] advantages you wouldn’t [otherwise] have.”
3. Most Superyacht Owners are Not Celebrities
You probably think that most superyachts are owned by celebrities, but you’re wrong. At least that’s what superyacht stewardess and onboard yoga teacher Chelsea Nielsen told CNN. “I get asked about what celebrities I’ve met and I’ve been lucky to have met a few but that’s not the norm from what I have found — at least from my experience. Of course, there are celebrities who own yachts but it’s not as prevalent as really wealthy entrepreneurs who have been smart with their investments and can afford to throw money into a big hull in the water,” Nielsen said.
2. They’re Equipped with Weapons
Well, at least some of them are anyway. The superyacht Radiant, which was originally built for a Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, is equipped with, “sonic guns that would burst the eardrums of attackers, along with water cannons that could sink an approaching boat from 100 yards away,” an article published by Business Insider reads. And, if the sonic guns aren’t enough to deter would-be attackers, there’s a small speedboat on the superyacht you can use to make a quick escape.
1. Working on One Can be Dangerous
The UK Confidential Reporting Programme for Aviation and Maritime (CHIRP) says it receives numerous reports from the yachting sector concerning crew members working aloft in an unsafe manner. According to one report, several deck crew were seen working on a superyacht at high heights without any safety equipment. “They were working at a considerable height above the waterline washing down with detergent, which in my opinion increased the risk of slipping and falling over the side,” an anonymous reporter wrote, according to SuperYachtNews.com. The reporter also included photos of the scene. “As you can see in the photos, certain crewmembers were leaning over the side of the vessel trying to clean the superstructure,” the reporter wrote.
But, when it comes to safety on board a superyacht, CHIRP says that it’s not just about the human element. There are technical considerations as well. “Too often, naval architects and designers, when designing a vessel, give scant consideration to the practicalities of everyday operations such as washing down or routine access for inspection purposes,” CHIRP said in its report.
Now that you know a little about superyachts, tell us what you think of them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!