The Real Cost of Owning a Superyacht [Complete Guide]

November 25, 2019 1:00 pm

Owning a superyacht is a status symbol available only to the world’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. Although there is no strict definition, the Red Ensign Group Yacht Code is applicable to “motor or sailing vessels of 24 meters in load line length and over…and which, at the time, is in commercial use for sport or pleasure and carries no cargo and no more than 12 passengers1.” There are currently just over 10,000 superyachts in the world with around 200-250 new builds delivered each year. The vast majority are motor yachts with sailing yachts counting for less than 20% of the total. The world’s largest private vessel, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s 180m (590 feet) Azzam, cost $600 million to build when it was delivered in 2013. Eight of the ten most expensive luxury acquisitions of all time were superyachts.


Purchase Costs

Buying a new or used superyacht will most likely cost the buyer several million dollars. Pricing varies widely based on the yacht size, age and other factors such as builder, guest capacity, speed, range, and more. The market is worldwide and extensive. Any potential buyer would be well advised to engage a professional, certified broker to guide them in the selection of their dream yacht and through the myriad of complications in making the purchase.  


Operating Costs

In years past, Owners and their brokers would work on 10% of the purchase price as an estimate of annual operating costs, but the vast range of yacht size, operating location, and usage profile makes this approach less useful without giving the question more thought.  Building a budget for a yacht requires consideration of the following elements:

Crew – Salary, payroll taxes, recruitment fees, uniform, health insurance, food, and travel for vacation and repatriation. A good guide for salary costs is published by Dockwalk magazine every year based on an extensive survey of the crew and placement agents.  Using their most recent article as a guide, a crew of 8 full-time crew on a 150’ yacht will cost over $650,000 per year in salary alone.  Get a complete crew cost breakdown.

Dockage – Unless the owner plans to spend the year at anchor, then keeping the yacht in a marina incurs a significant cost.  Dockage is normally sold per foot of the yacht’s full length and per night, although contract rates for longer periods may be available. High-quality marinas in peak seasons are currently running in the $6-8 per foot per night.  Electricity, fresh water, and waste removal are all additional costs to be taken into account.

Fuel – The Captain or Engineer should be able to provide the fuel consumption per hour at any given speed, so if a yacht owner knows roughly how much he wants the boat to travel then we can estimate the total fuel consumption and budget the fuel cost.  Don’t forget the fuel cost for generators, particularly at anchor. A typical 150’ motor yacht cruising at 12 knots will consume in the region of 150 U.S. gallons per hour.  At today’s fuel prices, that’s going to be close to $500 per hour. 500 hours per year will give us the main engine fuel budget of around $250,000. To this, we must also add the generators’ fuel consumption at anchor plus any additional for tenders. 

Communications – Internet internet internet. Everyone onboard, crew and guest, want to remain connected to their social media, their streaming services, and email. The technology available in this area moves fast and with 5G coming online, near-shore costs will likely come down. For those who want broadband speed while offshore, costs are high and depend on the upload/download speeds required.  Start with an estimate of $4,000 – $5,000 per month and work from there. Additional communications costs include satellite TV subscriptions, crew cell phone costs, mail, freight, etc. Get a complete communication cost breakdown.

Maintenance, Consumables, and Other Operating Costs – Having considered crew payroll, marina costs, fuel, and internet, the budget will start to materialize.  One must take all other costs account such as hull insurance, liability insurance, maintenance and consumables, warehousing, safety and survey costs, upkeep of the navigation outfit, computing support, car rental, and more.  

 


Looking for more details?

Receive the complete Costs Of Ownership Guide including:

  • • Offsetting Expenses With Charter
  • • Superyacht Financing
  • • Budget Development + More

This should be not considered as a financial guide. For a more accurate estimate, contact Clive McCartney.

1 Red Ensign Group Yacht Code Section A 1.2(1) 

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