For many, a yacht is the go-to post-lottery-win purchase, It’s always possible to dream a little bigger though, and in the case of top dollar ships, we’re surprised more people don’t imagine themselves behind the wheel of a “superyacht”. Also known as a “Luxury yacht” or “Mega yacht”, these modern day sea monsters rank just below buying your own private island (and given the size of some of these boats, there isn’t even much difference…).
What exactly is a “Superyacht”?
For some reason, privately owned, oversized and overpriced yachts are treated like a very modern phenomenon, but the term has been in use since the 20th century. This 1908 cutting from the New York Times announced the arrival of the Jemima F. iII - the largest motor powered yacht of its day - and there are several others from the same time period including the Cox & King Yachts, and the M/Y Savarona.
It is worth pointing out however that there is no industry-wide standard that separates the yachts from the superyachts. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is one of the rare exceptions; they state that a “UK pleasure vessel” must be less than 24m load line length or 80GT, else you need to fill it with a full, competent crew. Otherwise you can draw the line wherever you like e.g. a superyacht is any boat with its own 7m swimming pool, a mega-yacht should be able to house at least 16 guests at a time, and a giga-yacht needs to be helicopter accessible.
How do they differ in price?
According to this Forbes article, the price of an average superyacht (or in this case, any yacht measuring more than 100m) starts at around $275 million. If you have that kind of cash kicking around, you can’t just sail down to your local luxury yacht dealership. The most luxurious watercraft, such as those owned by Donald Trump or Google’s Larry Page, are usually built to individual commission, and are operated as commercial entities (often in areas where tax is a “foreign” concept).
Regular yachts are the archetypal symbol of oceanic freedom and independence, but a superyacht will almost always require an experienced captain to take it out on the water. Hiring crew members is also just one many other only additional costs - fuel, maintenance and insurance can easily exceed 10% of the vessel’s price, whilst annual dockage fees can easily run into six digits. It’s true that you can charter your boat, but the costs of operating it are so high you probably wouldn’t ever see a profit. Then again, if you’re rich enough to buy a yacht that’s also fully submersible, you probably don’t care much about the overheads...