For the past year or so, as a result of the pandemic, the cost of charters has been going up. It’s a classic case of supply and demand; more people want to take a charter than there are charter boats available. To make matters worse, some of the yachts that used to be in the charter market have been sold, since the price of boats, particularly large yachts, has been going up too.
In the old days, say three years ago, people wanting to charter a yacht often had some bargaining power; they could ask for a flat discount, or a seasonal discount, or a multi -week discount. But now it’s the charter yacht owners who are in the driver’s seat; bargaining, at least for a while, has gone the way of the buggy whip.
The demand for charters, and boats in general, has been driven, of course, by the desires of many people to seek a safe place to vacation with their families during the pandemic. Boats, of all sizes, have never seemed so appealing.
In a revealing new story, The New York Times asked Yatco, the international yacht database, to trace the price of new boats since 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. “We’ve seen a seismic shift,” Steven Myers, the founder and CEO of Yacto, told The Times. “Across the industry, there’s been a surge in sales and charters.”
Sales of boats 50 feet and up have increased 27 percent since 2019, Yatco reports; sales of yachts over 150 feet are up 47 percent in that time.
On the pricing front, there has been less room for negotiations; boats now are selling much closer to their asking price. In 2019, for example, boats under 50 feet sold for about $25,000 below the asking price. Last year, that number was just $16,000, and so far this year it is under $14,000.
With the charter market tightening up, and the cost of new boats rising, boat clubs have become more appealing. Business at Barton & Gray Mariners Club, for example, with a fleet of 50 captained yachts in almost 30 locations, is booming. (One of the club’s yachts, a Hinckley Talaria 44, is pictured above.) The club has a $20,000 initiation fee, and then charges annual dues depending on how often, and where, people want to use the boats. Read more: