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It takes captains to enlighten about yachts

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Like many yacht captains, Capt. Keith Moore of the 190-foot M/Y Lady Sheridan lives in Ft. Lauderdale. Whenever he can, he docks the yacht here. Last month, he told they city’s marine advisory board why.
“I live locally,” he said. “I prefer to spend my money here, and to have my crew here.”

A peek at what the yacht spends here: $1,400 a night for dockage (not including electricity); $140,000-$160,000 for fuel, twice over the winter; $55,000 in catering for a weekend event onboard for more than 100 guests, more than the chef can handle solo; $1,700 a month for a rental car, times three (two Toyota Corollas and a minivan); provisions for his crew of 15, three meals a day, every day, not to mention all the other things they need to live — from shampoo to toilet paper.

His crew are, as he says, paid very well, and with no living expenses they tend to shop and frequent nice restaurants, hotels, and clubs.

“Yachties spend money foolishly,” he said simply. “They eat out, they buy nice clothes, fancy purses.”
He can’t haul out in Ft. Lauderdale but prefers support a Ft. Lauderdale company, so he sails to Bradford Marine’s facility in Freeport and where he’ll spend $40,000 for a bottom job. At the end of March, he’ll head there again to drop his stabilizers. Ft. Lauderdale’s Quantum Marine will fly over to do the work.
Between September and early February, the yacht has spent more than $300,000 on shipyard work, most if not all to Ft. Lauderdale companies. And all the yacht’s supplies come from Ft. Lauderdale-based chandleries.

All told, he’ll spend more than a million dollars in the six months Lady Sheridan is here.

Why does he do it? We certainly don’t make it easy for him.

The slip he docks at is so badly silted in that he needs a tow boat to pull him off. Power is so inadequate that the yacht runs its generators when it’s here.

And still, he comes.

He’s been in yachting since 1986, when Ft. Lauderdale was one of the few places to find everything you needed. The yachts came here for the craftsmen and labor who knew how to take care of yachts.

And they still do.

What’s been lagging is a city with the vision to keep up, and with officials who understand the value of this industry here.

“Ft. Lauderdale wants to proclaim ourselves the yachting capital of the world but we’re falling way behind,” Moore told the members of the marine advisory board. “I drive a 190-footer, and I’m small when I go to the Med. I tie up in the Med and I only see the sun at noon because of the huge yachts on either side of me.”

And then you look at Simpson Bay.

“There’s a ton of hardware sitting there because they can’t dock here,” he said. A captain called him and offered him money to leave his Ft. Lauderdale slip a day early so he wouldn’t have to anchor out.

Without some major changes in the regions political power players, there’s only so much the city can offer. The water under the 17th Street Causeway bridge can’t get much deeper because of power lines and such buried there. The ICW is on a schedule to be dredged to 17 feet all the way up to Sunrise Harbor, a depth that thrills local officials but didn’t impress Moore at all.

The easy solution is to get some stern-to dockage out in front of the Convention Center on the southwest part of the ICW at the bridge. That might accommodate five yachts, stern-to.

“In the Med, I pay 2000 euros a night and I have a 35-foot beam,” Moore said. “I’m charged for 190 feet but I’m only using 35 feet of real estate.”

Moore would like to see more of the Dania Cut-off Canal developed for megayachts.

“I don’t think people realize the resources that are here for us,” he said. “When I’m not here, every time I want a part, I have got to fly it in, pay customs, pay the agent, and it’s not easy.

“There are so many talented people in this area and they spend money on the technology to keep up, but unfortunately we don’t have the real estate to park [the yachts] here.”

So Frank Herhold, former executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and current member of the Marine Advisory Board, made a motion to recommend the city meet with Broward County officials to begin feasibility studies on stern-to dockage in front of the port, and ensure that that sort of dockage is part of any hotel built on the site.

Let’s see if they listen.

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton. Comments on this column are welcome at lucy@the-triton.com.

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