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The Art of Superyacht Management

The art of superyacht management lies in one simple premise: a superyacht as an object of possession is an expression of freedom. You buy a superyacht because it is a vehicle to travel unchallenged. No traffic lights, no roadblocks, none of the restrictions that everyone, even kings and queens and presidents face on land. Freedom to roam on the sea, sun shining and shores distant.

It is an illusion because everything is subject to rules, regulations and international conventions. The art of management lies in making this illusion of perpetual freedom become a reality.

Stress Free

The first task is to make the yacht a stress free zone. Just by owning a movable and floating asset of such  magnitude the owner is exposed extensive levels of stress that come in from all directions: regulatory financial and legal, multi-faceted and usually interconnected. The job of a superyacht management operation is to insulate the owner and guests from these stresses.  Ownership should come with  a passport to a stress-free dimension.

The owner is ultimately responsible for everything that happens on board and this includes many aspects of superyacht operations that have been delegated to others: the captain, the accountants, the lawyers, the managers. They have specialist knowledge of a particular area of expertise. And one simple job: to make sure none of this touches the owner and the guests.

Dieter Bethke

Why bother owning a superyacht otherwise? Outside the possible tax benefits, a superyacht is a money pit. People pay that kind of money because they want total release from all of the stresses that come with money. Too little, too much, money is the root of all stress.

The owner does not need to know all the details of how the show keeps running – not on board anyway.

Many an owner will have a comprehensive awareness of superyacht operational management. There has to be a level of trust between the owner and the management company and the captain. This should not be blind trust – given the huge sums of money spent annually on the maintenance of a superyacht, 10% of the purchase price is a guideline.

When all the various people involved in the management have discharged their duties, the bill ends up on the owner’s desk to settle. Some of the charges will be related to regulations such as safety management;  compliance with international organizations; legal and fiscal requirements such as crew training and the Tax status of the yacht. There will be marina and berthing charges, the cost of relocation be refit. It may seem daunting but the whole point of having a management company manage all of this is that they deal with the inevitable problems associated with such a massive asset.

Delegating responsibility

Superyacht management is a multi-layered system of interfacing responsibility managing a mobile asset traveling through both international and national waters.  Owners and guests don’t need to know any of this. The goal is simple: peace of mind. Total freedom to exist unchallenged.


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Most owners know what they’re getting into when they buy a yacht. They will be aware of the costs to refit , the maintenance, the crew salaries, management fees. One owner said to me: ‘ I know the minutiae of my business down to the cost of light bulbs. I don’t want to know anything about my superyacht. My manager gives me a bill –  I pay it. It defies reason but for that reason, I can’t wait to be back on my yacht. The day I start to think logically about my yacht is the day I sell it.’

The 3 Ps

One manager put it this way: ‘a superyacht is a collage of parts, people and paperwork. The three Ps. The skill is to blend these seamlessly so these become an experience unlike anything else on this planet. A rarified experience of personal freedom. I want that to be extasy, joyful, almost extraterrestrial. You don’t pay that kind of  money for an experience of  mundane reality, worrying about the paperwork and bureaucracy.’

 

flickr: bay_dragon

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