Time Shares Aren’t Just For Apartments And Houses
By Kerri Fortune
Brendan Kane wanted to sail but decided his busy schedule and the hefty price tag of owning a yacht made his dream impractical.
“Living in New York, you only use it for one-third to a half of a year. It didn’t seem like it would be worth it,” said the 29-year-old salesman. A friend introduced him to fractional yacht ownerships. For over a year, he has been an owner-member in SailTime, a national fractional yachting program with an outlet in New York.
Kane isn’t the only New Yorker with sail envy. Investment-savvy New Yorkers, with schedules full of meetings and little leisure time, are turning to member shares and fractional ownerships to stretch their sea legs sans the stresses of yacht ownership. “The experience is what matters more than the ownership. Our slogan is ‘all the fun, none of the hassles.’ The main thing is get on the boat, get off the boat, and never have to worry about it,” said Donald Choi, owner of LL Yacht Club, a membership yacht club with marinas at Chelsea Piers, the Hamptons and Miami.
Most sailors with yacht shares are affluent professionals aged 40 to 50, said the owner of SailTime New York and SailTime Long Island, Mathias Chouraki. About 80 percent of the company’s customers could afford their own yachts but chose to join out of convenience, he added. LL Yacht Club has about 22 members whom Choi says are mostly Wall Streeters between 30 and 45 years old. “They make pretty good money, at least over a half a million dollars or more, and have a net worth of a couple of million at least,” he said.
Owning a yacht outright can cost big bucks. Luxury boats go for at least $750,000 and a 20 percent down payment totals about $150,000 plus tax. But fractional ownership isn’t cheap either. Fees range from $9,000 to $30,000.
Both companies take care of the hassles of ownership, like winterization, securing slip space, marina fees and yacht maintenance, which Kane pointed to as a definite perk. If you’re looking to cruise and be catered to, LL Yacht Club takes care of staffing and servicing, leaving you to focus on entertaining your guests. All you have to do is pay your membership fees and kick back.
Membership allows you can take a yacht out whenever it’s available.
If you seek a more hands-on approach, look into a fractional ownership like SailTime, which doesn’t staff its yachts and allows you to captain vessels up to 45 feet on your own. Chourak said his outfit teaches its members how to sail. SailTime offers two options: being a member, or an owner-member. There are seven members who don’t claim ownership and one owner-member per yacht. Kane said the only “real trade-off is if someone else reserved it,” but that rarely happens.
Choi said LL Yacht Club members frequently take their boats to Tarrytown and Atlantic City, even staying on the two-bedroom yachts overnight instead of booking hotel accommodations. Kane said he often takes the yacht around the city and to the Statue of Liberty with some of his co-workers before going to a restaurant in the Meatpacking District for drinks and dinner. For longer day trips, he heads to the Jersey Shore, Stamford or Port Washington.
Yachting can mean business too. According to Choi, approximately 90 percent of LL Yacht Club’s members are corporations, but he was tight-lipped as to who they are. “They do business deals on the boat. The biggest thing that I’ve seen is, you know, five hedge fund guys talking, doing business, planning, strategizing,” he said. Choi was introduced to recreational boating by Alex von Furstenberg while working as chief financial officer for Diane von Furstenberg.
If you’re not looking for a commitment and want to utilize yachts infrequently, or for specific events, yacht charters might be a better choice. Lezlee Peterzell-Bellenich from NY Yacht and Boat Charter said that corporations use their upscale yachts for everything from internal events and parties to impressing outside clients. They provide all services to accommodate parties of different sizes, budgets and tastes.
Although many yachts migrate south for the winter, they’re hardly in hibernation. As an LL Yacht Club member, you could make use of boats in Miami. As part of SailTime, you can request to use a yacht at one of their bases around the country. And NY Yacht’s Peterzell-Bellenich said that their charters are climate-controlled, so they can sail in New York Harbor year-round.
Famous New York Yachters
Billy Joel » The singer and pianist extraordinaire is known to sail around the city and Long Island Sound on his 57-foot commuter yacht, Vendetta.
Rupert Murdoch » Murdoch sails his 184-foot-long yacht, Rosehearty.
Ronald Perelman » The Revlon, Inc. chairman sails around the Mediterranean on his 188-foot yacht, Ultima III.
Steve Forbes » The Highlander is the Forbes family’s 151-foot yacht where they entertain guests at their bashes and fundraisers.