Changing tide: Marine clubs go all out to attract yacht owners

UAE's yacht scene has drastically changed. At one time yachts were hard to sell and berth, but the ones who decide to own one now have plenty of berthing options.

They were tough days for the yacht businessmen. Five years ago, when berthing options were limited and heavily overprized, the purchase of a boat was not a very appealing one.

"When a yacht was sold, a place to berth had to be guaranteed in the contract," tells Abdi, who has been selling yachts for the past 5 years. "People would not buy knowing that they could not berth it."

But the tide has changed. Anno 2012 marine clubs are lining up to attract the potential customer and a berth place alone will not do the job.

"Nowadays there are more berthing options, which is an advantageous thing for yacht owners.  As a result marinas and yacht clubs now have to be more sophisticated in what they have to offer to boaters. It has increasingly become a combination of a berth location and service standards," tells Phil Blake, General Manager of Dubai Marina Yacht Club.

Now the yacht season has started, marine clubs go at great length to impress the potential or existing customer. Among the services on the market are restaurants, member lounges, F&B deals, car parks, showers, changing rooms and think of more. Becoming a member of a club goes far beyond the guarantee of a place to berth; it gives you the exclusive right to the whole package.

"Unique at Dubai Marina Yacht Club are the special events. We organize our own Cruising Club, which invites members to venture together throughout the good season to different cruising destinations such as Yas Island, Al Hamra in RAK and Lebanon Island at The World. The latter was the most popular rally; there were 42 yachts.

With the large array of possibilities location has increasingly become a matter of importance. "We speak of prime locations, primer locations and lesser prime locations," explains Abdi. “Berthing options at prime locations are more difficult to get."

Larger yachts or super yachts –which exceed 80 ft- might find it particularly difficult to berth, as these yachts face different rules and regulations, which might not be applied by all marine clubs.

And then there is off course the price which plays a role. "At a location far out of town you might find a good deal, but the prime locations are higher in price," says Abdi.

“Dubai Marina Yacht Club’s berthing rates are in the top quartile with the premium representing the unique services offered," tells Phil.
“Indicative costs are an one-time payment of 18,000 dirhams and depending on the marina location between 44,000 and 60,000 per annum for a medium-size yacht, which would be about 15 meters (or 50 ft).”

With the booming business and endless opportunities the yacht seller no longer needs to worry. There are plenty of buyers; serious business men who research all the options and then pick the best but also impulsive buyers, who have just made a lot of money and want to spend it all in one day, tells Abdi.

And as the guarantee of a berth place is no longer included in the contract the yacht seller plays the role of mediator. "There are some good deals in town and we are well-connected to all marines. We usually recommend a berth place to customers based on what their preferences are."

"It is different strokes for different folks; every yacht owner will make his or her decision for the ideal home for their yacht based upon different criteria” agrees Phil.

"The Dubai Marina Yacht Club’s offering is designed to appeal to the more active yacht owner. It encourages owners to make use of their yacht, to learn how to navigate, develop their seamanship skills etc.

But some yacht owners might prefer a more private place to berth.”

"Nowadays people have more options and this is a good thing. The focus is now on establishing a more life-style oriented offering.”

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