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The thirteen largest yachts at Yachts Miami Beach aren’t where most people expect them to be. This year, instead of being docked alongside Collins Avenue, two dozen larger yachts are at Deep Harbour.
Deep Harbour’s recently completed floating docks are the marina part of Island Gardens on Watson Island. From the bridge of M/Y Copasetic, a 141-foot Hike Metal custom yacht, Capt. Ian van der Watt pointed to the unobstructed view of Miami’s skyline across Biscayne Bay. He has seen a lot of marinas in his nearly four decade career and didn’t hesitate when asked about this one.
“I love it, it’s a helluva nice venue,” van der Watt said.
“Last week it was mud and now there are palm trees, tiles and landscaping,” he said as he pointed to the upland property behind a perfectly manicured row of landscaping which is still under construction.
“This show will be terrific, maybe not this year, but the next year,” van der Watt said.
Opening day saw few people on the docks. One reason is because there is no public access to the Deep Harbour location, according to Michael Robbins, dock and in-water supervisor for Show Management, co-owner of Yachts Miami Beach along with FYBA.
Although Collins Avenue is open to the public along the nearly mile-long show, Robbins and his crew check credentials at the entrance to these docks.
“This is invitation only here, there is no public access,” Robbins said between checking a smattering of guest for badges and paper invitations. “There is no water taxi, but there are three courtesy shuttles leased to bring VIP visitors to the marina.”
Cliff DeFreitas, of Jones Boat Yard, was on the docks talking with captains.
“I think this location will bring Miami back into the limelight. Maybe not this time, but next time round,” DeFreitas said. “People think the big boats are not here this year.”
Many of the crew have high hopes for the show’s newest location.
Capt. van der Watt said he likes the appointments and the private feel as does CiCi, his wife and stew.
“It’s exclusive and it’s quiet here,” she said. “When they discover this they will come here,” she said about future attendees and potential buyers.
“It’s not so crammed, and you can see all the other boats,” she said as she pointed to the horseshoe shaped dock with Med-moored yachts. The entrance is temporarily blocked with a floating dock to create a circular walk for visitors.
Capt. Dale Smith of M/Y Sovereign also said the show will be a great venue for future events.
“But, yesterday they may have well as closed the gates,” he said of opening day. He likes the yacht’s location with plenty of deep water.
“This show has massive potential, when the word gets out,” he said. “There is a great concentration here. It’s an impressive facility.”
Maybe people are just not aware that this location is part of Yachts Miami Beach, he said.
“It seems like this part of the show was not as well publicized,” Smith said.
Chief Stew Jennifer Shillitoe of M/Y Sovereign said people may not be clear what is actually at the property. One day there will be high-rise hotels, retail shops and a promenade, but currently there is one marina building at the venue.
“You can’t just pop ‘round to see the boats,” Shillitoe said. “People should know that even if they get over here, they can’t just walk on.”
She likes the show location, but said there are a few things that may need to get worked out for future shows.
“I think the traffic is an issue and there is nothing food-wise,” she said. “There is nothing to keep them here when they get here.”
M/Y 11-11’s 2nd Officer Ola Rask also thinks next year’s show will be bigger.
“The show is a good show, it’s a very nice place,” Rask said. “Everybody likes Miami.”
The yacht was at the Monaco show last year and saw a lot of activity, he said.
“It was super busy, but it’s Monaco, the biggest show,” Rask said. “The difference is, we’re not in the middle of everything.”
“But that’s the point, with invitation only, it’s exclusive,” he said. “This is absolutely less stressful.”
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.