Why owners like, use and buy big boats

Jan 3, 2017 by Peter Herm

There are myriad reasons why owners choose to endure the significant cost of big-boat ownership. Some use their boats as a business tool, many as a way to keep families together, and others find it a unique ego builder, I am sure.

None would dispute that big boating is also the safest and most private form of travel and relaxation.

Personally, I probably fall into all categories. Most importantly to me, floating is physically and mentally therapeutic. I can literally feel my body relax in the first 30 minutes of sitting on the aft deck, cocktail in hand. The theatrics and stress of running a couple of businesses melts away. On a boat, my mind wanders to the bigger picture, strategic issues more valuable than fighting the daily fires. From a productivity standpoint, this alone is worth the price of admission for me.

As a business tool, I have cemented many profitable relationships over the years on boats. Even with today’s “always on” communications, there is no better way to build personal friendships and business connections than on a boat. The owner and his guest business associates are locked in close proximity on a boat, cruising some fabulous area without interruption from cell phone or computer. Relaxation and cocktails tend to loosen many of the typical walls of selling and making deals. Perhaps this is why so many successful entrepreneurs, business owners and hedge fund mavens own boats. It is truly the Capitalist Tool.

Another business use for a boat is to let your best clients, suppliers, employees and future friends use it without you. Some owners may charter their boats, but mine is kept busy with well-placed gifts of use of the boat. My crew whine at times that it is just like working on a charter boat only without the tips, but this is what pays the bills for me, so it is part of what pays the bills for them.

Most of my clients and vendors in various businesses have never experienced the thrill of big boating. Some could afford to charter, but have never taken the plunge. The difference between a cruise ship and a big boat with a wonderful crew is not fathomable to most people. Until you try it, you don’t appreciate it. I feel we do the charter industry a great service every time we let someone use our boat. Without exception, our guests report it was the best vacation of their lives.

Sometimes us spoiled owners and overworked crew forget how magical big boating is.

A couple of years ago, I spoke to a group of yacht brokers to provide an owner’s perspective of their service and why we actually buy boats. My No. 1 reason then and now is that it traps my kids on the boat with me. As kids get older, their teen needs become complicated. Girlfriends, boyfriends and heavy schedules tend to get in the way of family time. Life is filled with texts, and focus on family seems to get lost.

I trap my entire family on our boat multiple times a year. It is amazing how easy it is to turn off the internet, phones and TVs on a boat. Once over the initial shock, families can focus on non- electronic family activities. I can sheepishly admit that my daughter beats me at gin multiple times on every trip, and we are about even on Scrabble. Monopoly is even more fun now as a business training tool for our kids, and the board on our boat is pretty worn. When we’re home, this just does not happen.

My editor asked about any frustrations I have with boating, but frankly, the good far outweighs the bad. Yes, it is not a cheap hobby and some of those yard bills are insane, but my experience is that big boating is worth every penny and more.

As always, it is not about the boat; success is about the crew. Great crew can make a modest boat truly luxurious, and crew challenges can make the best boat a giant headache. We owners rely on our crew to understand our needs and steer us in the direction that is most comfortable for all involved.

Thank you to all the great crews out there, especially mine. Bow west and high tide only.
Peter Herm is the pen name for a veteran yacht owner who is an entrepreneur based on the East Coast of the U.S. Comments are welcome at editor@the-triton.com.