Yachting's Hidden Costs

By Daniel Fisher for Forbes

Hank Halsted is in the business of selling big, expensive boats at Northrop & Johnson, a yacht brokerage in Newport, R.I.  But even he urges caution for anyone tempted to jump into these waters for the first time.

“It’s about as deep a buyer’s market as ever has been,” says Halsted, president of the brokerage, founded in 1949 to cater to Manhattan’s wealthy.  There are literally hundreds of power yachts over 100 feet long for sale around the world, many for 40% or more below the prices they brought six or seven years ago. Compared with the cost of new construction, he says, “I wouldn’t even want to say it.”

But buying a superyacht isn’t like buying a luxury car, or even a multimillion-dollar house.

“It’s so much more expensive than any home you can imagine,” says Jennifer Saia, director of charter operations at International Yacht Collection in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., another superyacht brokerage. “It’s a moving part.”

That shiny white 170-footer you picked up for less than half of what it cost to build has to be painted every five or six years, for example. Figure on at least $500,000 to remove all the hardware, prep and spray paint an object the size of a good-sized mansion.

These boats require crew, too. Captains cost roughly $1,000 per year per foot of boat---that’s $110,000 or so to command an embarrassingly small 100-footer and $220,000 or more for yachts over 200 feet. You’ll also need an engineer for another $90,000 to $130,000 because the complex mechanical systems are beyond the skills of a mere crewman. In addition, plan to hire at least one crew member per guest. Deckhands and stewards are relatively cheap at $30,000 to $50,000 per year – hey, it’s not a bad gig for a young person – but good chefs cost at least $70,000 a year.

Then there are the periodic refits as engines wear out, interiors fall out of style (that mirrored Last-Days-of-Disco look may have worked in your bachelor years, but the wife wants French Provincial) and hull rivets corrode. Halsted says he urges would-be buyers to plan on spending at least 10% of the purchase price each year on crew and routine maintenance, and to set aside another 10% each year for the heavier capital expenses. If you’re buying a bargain boat on the used market, you’ll need to set aside even more. Older boats cost more to maintain.

Back when Northrop & Johnson was founded to cater to the rich Bermuda racers at the New York Yacht Club, luxury yachts cost about $1,000 per foot to build. No longer. Designers are specifying more exotic materials (like titanium and carbon fiber to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency). Moreover, yachts today come with elaborate navigational electronics, air conditioning and water-treatment systems, and VSAT satellite-data systems for 24-hour video and internet connections (so much for getting away from it all).

A good rule of thumb for a state-of-the-art motor yacht over 100 feet now is $1 million per meter, or more than $50 million for an impressive, but not outlandish, 170-footer. (Billionaire Roman Abramovich’s 525-foot Eclipse, currently the world’s largest private yacht, reportedly cost $300 million, or $1.9 million per meter.)

Don’t even think about commissioning a new yacht unless you hire a project manager to oversee the work. Change orders on a $50 million, complicated piece of floating machinery can be ruinous, and fights with the boat yard expensive. It was a dispute over cost overruns on the world’s largest sailing catamaran that drove Derecktor Shipyards in Bridgeport, Conn. into bankruptcy in 2008; the owner of the 145-foot yacht, now named Hemisphere, obviously didn’t consider the fact he’d need the yard’s cooperation to launch and take possession of his boat.

Owners can recoup some of their costs by chartering to other rich folks.

“The growing trend has been to view the asset as a business,” says Robert Saxon, president of International Yacht Collection. His firm manages a number of superyachts including a 205-footer with an annual operating budget of $3.5 million that the owner can cover by chartering it out for 10 weeks a year at $425,000 a week.

There are limits to how much income you can wring from a boat, however. Marine regulations limit private yachts to 12 passengers, no matter how large, so don’t count on packing a 150-foot yacht with paying guests. Most yachts have six staterooms, plus accommodations for crew and staff like nannies and secretaries.

Charter income doesn’t come close to amortizing the purchase price of the boat, but charter owners can cover their cash expenses each year. Saia of IYC says most boats charter no more than 12 weeks a year. When times are good, owners can charter their boats out as much as 28 weeks a year, but no more. Yachts need to move from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean with the seasons; crews need time off; and yachts have mechanical downtime. Figure on paying the brokers 20% of rental income to charter and manage the yacht, on top of the annual maintenance expense.

If you are considering putting your yacht out for charter, don’t skip the amenities. There are more than 1,400 superyachts in the charter fleet these days, from 70 feet to more than 200 feet, and the list of minimum accoutrements is lengthy. A Jacuzzi is mandatory, along with VSAT connection, a large and attentive crew (1 per guest is typical), and “water toys” including sailboats, windsurfers, Jetskis and scuba equipment. Don’t try to get by with an inflatable dinghy, either: Luxury charters require a “towed tender,” yachtspeak for a 30-foot motorboat to shuttle guests from yacht to shore.

Even brokers who are in the business of selling yachts urge customers to charter for a few seasons first before they consider buying. “I’m in favor of chartering right up until you are run over by the need for pride of ownership,” says Halsted of Northrop & Johnson.

The benefits of working as yacht crew


By Yachting Pages

As with any job, there are often plenty of ups and downs, with each having their own benefits and downfalls. While long working hours, little spare time and some mundane tasks may be among the downfalls of working aboard a yacht, the travel, lifestyle and experiences are certainly among the perks. Below, we investigate just why tens of thousands of people choose to work on board.

Six benefits of working as superyacht crew

1. The Yachtie Lifestyle

Working as yacht crew allows you access to a completely different lifestyle. While you will be working, you’ll also be living aboard one of the most expensive vessels in the world, and all whilst in the company of some of the world’s most influential people. 

A superyacht will have some of the best facilities and amenities available today, and, at the owner or captain's discretion, there may be certain instances where crew will be permitted to make the most of their lavish surroundings. When the owners and guests aren't on board, you may be permitted to enjoy the Jet-Skis, tenders and toys, and use the gym, home-cinema room, swimming pool, hot tub and more.

Wherever you go, the yacht attracts a lot of attention, seeing you fully flung into the lifestyle that comes with being on a superyacht.

2. The Elite Experiences

Would you ever get an opportunity to stand aboard a superyacht and mix with the people that travel on board? Love them or hate them, when working as yacht crew, you'll never quite know who you might have the pleasure of meeting!

Some of the world's most famous own or charter yachts, including Kate Moss, Simon Cowell, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the list goes on. By making a great first impression, you never know; an amazing opportunity may arise!

3. The Travel

It’s no secret that superyachts travel to some of the most exotic and luxurious destinations in the world, and when working aboard, you’ll be able to tick some great places off your travel list. While you may not get to enjoy these exactly as you would hope, you’ll certainly find yourself in destinations that you may never have travelled to otherwise, and will get to enjoy some amazing views along the way.

4. The People

Working on a superyacht is unlike any other job: You’re surrounded by your fellow crew mates for weeks at a time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They’re your colleagues, your friends and your family away from home, making for strong, interesting, and sometimes even intimate relationships. You’ll find yourself away from 'real life', and this is where some incredibly strong connections are created and long-lasting friendships made.

5. The Salary and Tips

Crew have good base salariesno outgoings and often enjoy tax-free living. With no expenditure on food, bills and accommodation, many crew report rarely spending their crew salaries, making it an amazing opportunity to save some mega bucks. Working on a yacht for a few years can leave crew with enough money for a deposit on a house or two, or that kick-starter for their own business. 

Tips are another massive financial incentive for superyacht crew, where they are awarded. Working on a charter yacht especially offers crew a great opportunity to receive this added income, but how much is expected? That depends. Standard tips can range from five percent to twenty percent of the charter fee, with an average of roughly 10 percent and shared between all crew.

Working aboard a private yacht may not offer such opportunity for tips, however they have their own advantages for crew, including more down time, longer holidays, bonuses and even the possibility of spontaneous gifts from the owner. Some owners are even known to tip as well.

6. The Education and Life Experience

Once hired, crew typically have their education and training expenses covered by the yacht they work on, as well as learning some transferrable skills for life on board, and after yachting. 

The industry offers ample opportunity for career development with a wide range of courses available for each job role on board. Some that promise opportunity outside of the industry include that of dive instructor, powerboat handler and sommelier.

Find your next position with British American Yachts.

Green is Good

By Kim Kavin for Yacht World Charters

Capt. Andrea Aliverti is about to commit blasphemy. After all, when you’re born in the shadow of Vatican City and raised in Italy, uttering a single bad word about Pellegrino is nearly akin to mocking the pope.

But Aliverti can’t help himself. His beliefs about fizzy water have become so ingrained that they border on personal religion.

“I cannot see a point in buying Pellegrino,” says Aliverti, standing in the salon of his 47-foot Nautitech sailing catamaran Nemo in Antigua and throwing his hands into the air, almost as if he’s seeking absolution from a long-lost god of logic. “Why ship Pellegrino all the way from Italy? You are wasting all that transportation fuel when you can make it right here, and it is delicious, and there are no bottles...”

Aliverti’s voice trails off as he points to Exhibit A in his sermon: the Sodastream that he recently installed in Nemo’s galley. He paid about $200 for the coffee-pot-sized machine and its starter kit of supplies, which let charter guests enjoy all the fizzy water they want by transforming it on demand from the cool stuff that flows out of Nemo’s faucets. Which, by the way, are connected to a seven-filter reverse-osmosis separator that makes water from the boat’s tanks not only drinkable, but downright tasty—while eliminating the need for about two cases’ worth of plastic water bottles a day. And that filtration system? It runs not on electricity from a fuel-based generator, but instead on power supplied by Nemo’s solar panels.

“We have so much sun in the Caribbean,” Aliverti says, as if pointing out to disbelievers that the world is, in fact, round. “It is simple. Why not make use of the sun?”

As recently as five or 10 years ago, many charter brokers would have patted Aliverti gently on the back, smiled lovingly at his eco-enthusiasm, and walked away. “Going Green” may have already been a trend on land, but it was taking longer to migrate into the world of crewed yacht charter than a crumpled plastic bottle takes to decompose in a landfill (about 450 years, according to the U.S. National Park Service). Sure, brokers thought it was nice when yacht owners and captains made an effort to charter in a more conservation-friendly way, but clients rarely asked about such things when deciding which yacht to book, so eco-features were far less important than king-size beds and sundeck hot tubs.

That mentality is now changing—and fast. The idea of being earth-friendly has finally migrated en masse offshore, and the race is on to see which charter yachts will emerge as the new leaders in the global fleet. Aliverti is no longer seen as an outlier so much as a visionary, one among a growing number of charter yacht owners, captains, and brokers who are realizing that going green can be good not just for the planet, but also for business.

Aboard charter yachts of all sizes and styles, eco-friendly features are becoming as much of a marketing hook as Wave Runners and zero-speed stabilizers. Clients are starting not only to accept, but also to request and even demand things like filtered water and reusable bottles. They are asking about motoryacht fuel burn rates and how to reduce them, either by booking a more fuel-efficient yacht or by making a carbon-offset donation. Some owners are going so far as to promote the ways that their yachts are being built, telling potential clients that they minimized environmental impact in the shipyard as well as in the materials used to construct the boat, which they then outfit with organic bed sheets and biodegradable cleaning supplies and food that is not genetically modified and, well, whatever else they can think to put into their brochure copy.

In other words, the bulk of the charter industry, all the way up to the superyachts, is now trying to adopt the plainspoken mantra by which Aliverti lives on his 47-foot catamaran.

“We are trying to provide the same level of service and comfort that charter guests expect of boats our size,” he says, “but in a way that is good for the Earth.”

Selling the New Standard

The low-energy LED lightbulb first went off above Trish Cronan’s head a few years ago, while she was standing on the docks in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands. Cronan, who owns Ocean Getaways, had just registered for the annual boat show where charter yachts line up to show brokers everything that’s new onboard. Along with the paperwork and badge that she was used to receiving, a show organizer handed her an empty, stainless-steel water bottle. She looked at it for a few moments, perplexed, and then asked why it was in the welcome packet.

“A lot of the boats had started producing their own filtered water,” she recalls, “and they were trying to show us that we didn’t always have to reach for a plastic water bottle.”

Today, Cronan is the president of the charter brokers’ association CYBA International, which has spent the past few years turning that moment into a movement. They did some back-of-the-recycled-envelope math and determined that during a single week’s charter, a catamaran with eight guests and three crew can easily go through 300 plastic water bottles. A superyacht with 10 guests and 10 crew can churn through 700, easy. “We started multiplying by the number of boats out there,” Cronan says, “and in the BVI alone, our best guess is that charter yachts are putting about two million plastic water bottles a year into the BVI landfill.”

CYBA International wanted to encourage more boats to adopt the reusable-bottle solution, and to reward the boats that did so by sending them more charter business. The group created an eco-questionnaire that lists about 30 different criteria, everything from having a filtration system to doing coral-reef education to creating digital, instead of printed, brochures. Any charter yacht could fill out the questionnaire, and every yacht that met at least eight criteria got a CYBA “Going Green to Save the Blue” ribbon. A space was created in the international booking database to show which boats had the ribbon, giving brokers an easy way to find them and suggest them to potential charter clients. But even that wasn't enough, based on the results that CYBA was seeing.

“What showed up on those questionnaires was amazing,” Cronan says. “There are some boats out there that met almost every criteria on the list. We wanted to really highlight the role models at boat shows, so at the St. Thomas, Tortola, and Antigua shows, we decided to give out awards for the most eco-friendly sailing and power yachts.”

Those first awards were handed out in late 2012, and they will continue to be handed out every year not only at those three Caribbean boat shows, but soon at additional shows throughout the Mediterranean and beyond—giving the boats, and the brokers, a new marketing tool for helping charter clients see which yachts truly are standouts in eco-chartering.

“The best way for anyone to find out if their yacht is eco-friendly is to ask a broker if the yacht has qualified for the CYBA Going Green to Save the Blue ribbon,” Cronan says. “This is something new that we never had before, and it should make it easy for clients to make sure they are booking boats that are trying to do the right things.”

The Carbon Conundrum

Mark Robinson plopped down into a chair at Marina Molo Vecchio in Genoa, Italy. Gray clouds moving in fast looked like they were about to burst, and he was seeking refuge beneath a MYBA Charter Show tent. It was the end of yet another day spent pounding the docks, going passerelle to passerelle, talking to captain after captain, pitching the message that even the most gas-guzzling superyacht can offer a more environmentally conscious charter experience.

“We’re getting them one by one,” says Robinson, who is managing director of London-based Yacht Carbon Offset, a service that lets charter yacht owners—or clients—buy into global projects that reduce carbon emissions, thus offsetting any emissions created by running a superyacht’s engines. “We are letting them know that they don’t have to do this, of course, but that if they offer it to their charter clients, the clients may want to do it, and more and more clients see it as a good thing that the yacht is offering.”

Fuel burn is built into the DNA of superyachting the way calories are packed into the richest of chocolate fudge; some of faster yachts, like the 120-footers that can push 20 knots, may burn more than 200 gallons of fuel every single hour to achieve those decadent cruising speeds. If a charter client cruises, say, four hours a day for a week on such a yacht, then the total carbon emissions work out to about 123,000 pounds.

To put that into perspective, the average car, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, produces less than 11,000 pounds of emissions per year. The math can make the stink from a belching diesel seem all the more rancid to eco-minded charter clients, which is why more and more yachts are offering the Yacht Carbon Offset solution and other services like it. The retail agency Boatbookings.com recently added a “carbon calculator” to its website, letting charter clients see not only how many pounds of emissions different charter yachts produce, but also what it would cost to offset those emissions as part of the total charter fee. (That 123,000 pounds can be offset for a donation of less than $500, according to Boatbookings.)

Fuel burn rates are coming up in other conversations about which yachts to charter, too. At Camper and Nicholsons International in Monaco, senior charter manager Carine Zanotti says charter clients are becoming educated about fuel efficiency out of pure economic self-interest.

“Fuel efficiency is definitely a selling point now for charter, especially because some bunkering places in Italy and France will not give duty-free fuel anymore to some boats,” Zanotti says. “Duty-paid fuel is almost twice the price of duty-free, so the lower fuel-burn yachts are very attractive.”

Zanotti says that within the Camper and Nicholsons charter fleet, the 142-foot Eurocraft Baron Trenck in particular has been pushing fuel efficiency as a charter benefit. Cruising at 10 knots, Baron Trenck burns just 26 gallons per hour.

“If a boat is in the South of France and the client wants her in Sicily, then she can do the delivery for the cost of the fuel, which in some cases is eight times less than other boats in the same size range,” Zanotti says. Other megayachts that Camper and Nicholsons has been marketing for charter based on fuel efficiency include the 138-foot Cizgi E&E, which burns fuel at about the same rate as Baron Trenck, and the 118-foot CBI Navi Metsuyan IV, which can burn just 53 gallons per hour at some cruising speeds.

At 53 gallons per hour, the cost to offset emissions for the same four hours of cruising per day during a week’s charter drops to about $125, according to the Boatbookings.com calculator. As Robinson puts it: “It’s a matter of educating people that the cost is not really all that high to make a difference.”

The Future of Eco-Charter

Capt. Walter Wetmore stands at the helm of the 129-foot expedition yacht Safira, a 2013 launch that, at full throttle and 12.8 knots, burns just 60 gallons of fuel per hour. He looks out over the bow into Newport Harbor and beyond, well past New England in his mind’s eye, thinking about all the places that the yacht’s biodiesel fuel mix will take charter guests in the coming years.

“The owners wanted to raise awareness that yachts could be more eco-friendly,” he says, explaining how they took four years to build Safira in the United States with everything from granite and wood remnants from other projects to recycled glass countertops. “The owners are very aware of climate change.”

Charter clients would never know Safira was built differently just by looking at her; she is every bit as luxurious as any other charter yacht in her size range. That’s the future of eco-friendly charter, and it’s being seen in more and more builds coming out of the shipyards—builds of all sizes and styles whose owners are proving that eco-friendly charter can be downright elegant.

At the top end of the scale, the renowned Dutch builder Royal Huisman launched the 190-foot Ethereal, a $60-million sailing yacht that has a sea-powered lithium battery system, hybrid diesel and electric engines, and even windows and hatches that turn opaque in the tropical sun, helping to minimize the heat being brought inside the yacht and requiring air conditioning.

More in the midrange of the global charter fleet is the 147-foot Aquos Big Fish, a motoryacht that launched from McMullen and Wing in New Zealand with outdoor decks made from machined granite so that no real stone or teak had to be harvested from any forests. All of that yacht’s lighting is low-energy LED, and hot water is created by recirculating the flow from the generator coil around the freshwater tank. A second hull of similar design, the 164-foot Big Star, is now under construction at the yard with an asking price of $30 million.

At the smaller end of the charter scale is that 47-foot Nautitech sailing catamaran, Nemo, with Capt. Aliverti still standing onboard, preaching conservation to anybody who will listen. He’s in a decidedly different price range—Ethereal and Big Fish charter at a weekly rates well above $200,000, while Nemo commands less than $20,000—but the message has permeated all levels of the industry just the same. A lot of Aliverti’s ideas are now being designed into new builds in all size ranges, along with the ideas of more and more similarly minded people around the world. And Aliverti is still trying to lead the charge, thinking of additional ways to make charter more eco-friendly. He recently updated Nemo’s website to let potential charter clients know that all yogurt is now being made onboard without plastic cups, and that all dish soap and shampoo is not only biodegradable, but also “cruelty-free.”

“These things are not hard to do,” he says, “and look at the difference it can make.”

Outfit for purpose: The new rules of crew uniform


By Claire Wrathall for Boat International

The past few years have seen a casualisation of dress in almost all spheres. Even Goldman Sachs announced last summer that it would tolerate its technology staff wearing “totally casual” clothes in the hope that this would stop them jumping ship to hipper tech companies.

So where once quasi-military uniforms – brass buttons, epaulettes and lots of smart navy – held sway on the world’s superyachts, so most crews now dress in polo shirts and shorts, mostly in blue, white or shades of khaki, discreetly printed, or more classily embroidered, with the yacht’s name or sail number. So far, so practical. Such get-ups are comfortable, easy to launder and can be made from fabrics incorporating a high sun protection factor. Best of all, your guests will never feel upstaged.

But as former crew member Lauren Williams, whose previous role at sea incorporated seamstress duties, taking in and letting out uniforms to improve their fit, has blogged on onboardonline.com, polo shirts do not suit everyone, especially women. She has a point, although her solution – “a light and breezy chiffon top” – won’t have delighted every stewardess unless Williams has discovered a brand of opaque machine-washable SPF40 chiffon.

But there’s no disputing her opinion that a uniform of white shorts is “the world’s worst idea [because] sometimes crew need to deal with oil and grease and rust”. Indeed the truth in this perhaps explains the growing popularity of black for shorts and increasingly trousers as an option for crew who want to keep the sun off their legs and owners who feel a duty of care towards them.

Take the stewardesses on Maltese Falcon, the handsome 88 metre Perini Navi sailing yacht, who wear crisp white shirts and skinny black trousers cropped just above the ankle, outfits that call to mind a young Audrey Hepburn. Capri pants of a similar sort, paired with white T-shirts, were spotted on female staff on Fleur and Heurekaat last year’s Monaco Yacht Show too. On Elixir, long-sleeved black shirts with black trousers are in order for the officers and engineers.

In light of its elegant modern Studio Linse interiors, it’s no surprise that the owner of Icon has sought a different look for its stewardesses, namely smart but stretchy black and white striped dresses with boat necks and cut-outs to emphasise their svelte waists: flattering, fun and subtly evocative both of the boat’s striking Redman Whiteley Dixon-designed exterior and the monochrome tiles in its fabulous hammam.

The men, for the record, are dressed in black polo shirts and white shorts (let’s hope they’re not dry clean only). Striped dresses – in this instance in navy and white more in the style of a classic Breton jersey – are in order for the stewardesses on Casino Royale too.

Stripes will always have a nautical resonance but a process known as dye sublimation (effectively a kind of photo-printing popularised by swimwear designer Orlebar Brown) means that crew uniform can now incorporate images of the yacht itself or even the islands and marine life among which it sails. The beach staff at Eden Rock Hotel in St Barths, for example, sport bespoke Orlebar Brown shorts printed with a scene of the nearby shore.

As Ed Taylor, of Dorset-based crew uniform supplier Taylor Made Designs, explains, the “image actually becomes part of the garment itself, [resulting] in an incredibly high-quality photographic finish design with extraordinarily brilliant colours. The design can be printed all over the garment, all the way up to the seams and onto the sleeves.”

The images, he assures, will not crack or peel and will last numerous washes. The only downside is that, for the moment, it’s a technology that works only on polyester. Your crew may have something to say about that in a tropical climate. And a cool, comfortable, happy crew is always going to look and function better than a perspiring one.

Getting to the Bottom of the B1B2 Visa for Yacht Crew


By Sarah Laty for OnboardOnline

There are many grey areas in the yachting industry, but perhaps none as perpetually frustrating as visas, particularly the B1B2 sought by non-US yacht crew voyaging Stateside. 

Where you are from, where your boat is flagged, where you join a vessel, where it is going… there are so many variables that every inherently simple question seems to have a thousand answers, and a thousand more blog threads addressing it.

As a crew agent for many years in Antibes, I spoke to concerned crew nearly every day. Around this time each year they would collapse in the chair in front of me and disclose their dreams of working on a boat in the Caribbean.

But how should they go about it? Did they need a B1B2? Was it possible to get one? Since there was no clear gospel on the topic, we were often seen as the experts – trying to counsel our adoptive crew children through the smartest course of action without sounding too definitive or giving too much false hope.

As an American myself I am all too aware of the complicated policies of the United States. When speaking to crew about their experiences in trying to obtain a B1B2 visa, there's a sense that the process is totally random, that there are no clear rules and your fate is ultimately determined by whether or not the US Embassy worker you chance upon has had her coffee that morning.

There's probably a grain of truth to that, but we all know there are hoops to jump through on every level of administration, especially when it comes to immigration. I am sympathetic to everyone’s frustration, but I have also jumped through all manner of French legislative hoops and can say without hesitation that it is not very different. The disheartening fact we must all accept is this: there are rules that must be followed, fees that must be paid, and documents that must be produced. No matter where you are tying to go.

The first hurdle is to understand that there is no US visa specifically created for the world of yachting. As we all know, yachting is a niche industry that lends itself to a very particular and transient lifestyle. The B1B2, though it is the most appropriate for crew working (or looking for work) on yachts, was in no way created for that purpose.

According to the US Department of State, the B1B2 is classified as a visitor visa. This means that it is a non-immigrant visa for people wishing to enter the United States temporarily. There is a B1 visa for those who wish to enter for business purposes and a B2 visa for those coming for pleasure or tourism. A B1B2 is, obviously, a combination of the two.

The B1B2 is not a work permit, nor is it equivalent in any way to a Green Card. It is also different from a C1/D visa.

Without confusing the issue too much, the C1/D is technically a “crew” visa, but it is primarily intended for airline personnel and commercial seafarers i.e. cruise ship, cargo, and ferry employees.

Though it might seem like this is your best bet, it is generally not sufficient. “Commercial” in this context is defined as a plane or vessel with a set itinerary.

Whether a yacht is registered commercially or for pleasure, there is no set itinerary, and so it is therefore considered a private means of transport. In the eyes of the US government, the entire yachting industry is a private industry (remember that!), thus a B1B2 is necessary. 

Let’s get back to the classic scenario. The Caribbean season is coming up. You have been working, or looking for work in the Med. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a job lined up on a yacht heading to the US. Perhaps you want to head that way and try your luck. Yes, you do need a B1B2.

So how do crew get a B1B2 visa?

  1. The first thing you need to do is fill out the application Form DS-160. You can find it here. You will be asked to upload your photo to the form. Be sure to print the confirmation page to take to your appointment.

  2. Now you must schedule an appointment/interview at a US Embassy or Consulate. Generally this is done in your city of residence, but in the case of yacht crew it could be anywhere. There are always rumours floating around about how one Embassy is more or less strict than another, but if you are prepared and polite, it really shouldn’t make a difference. The time you will have to wait to get an appointment, however, will vary depending on city and the time of year. You can find approximate waiting times for different locations here. 

  3. Next you must pay the non-refundable application fee of 160 Euros. As unfair as it might seem, there might be additional issuance fees depending on your nationality. Be sure to print the payment confirmation to take to your appointment.

  4. Get your documents ready. Check the website of the Consulate or Embassy where you have scheduled your interview to see what they specifically request. You cannot be too prepared, so if you think it might be useful, take it along! The obvious and obligatory items are your passport (which must be valid at least 6 months beyond the length of your stay in the US), confirmation of application and payment, and a photo if you didn’t manage to upload one.

Many will tell you that you need an employment letter from a yacht in order to obtain the B1B2. Though it will certainly help if you have one, it is not necessary. More than proof of employment, they will be interested in proof that you DO NOT intend on staying in the US. Your biggest chance of being refused is if you are not able to prove strong ties to your home, whether they are familial, social, or economic. This proof can come in the form of bank or mortgage statements, house bills, photos of your wife or children back home… anything that will make them believe you are not planning on abandoning your home and setting up shop in the USA.

In speaking with crew about their experiences, B1B2 interviews could last anywhere from five minutes to several hours. This is where the random bit comes in, and unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to plan for it.

The best advice is to be honest, prepared, and polite. If you have a job lined up, great. But regardless, be careful when describing your situation. If you are going to be working on a commercially registered vessel, don’t volunteer the name of the boat unless directly asked. Especially curious Embassy workers have been known to Google certain yachts to find out how they are registered. If you have employment papers, try to request them without the commercial or charter status mentioned.

Do not lie, but do avoid using these forbidden C words! You risk creating a misunderstanding that could lead to a refusal. Remember that as far as they are concerned the yachting industry is completely private. You are simply requesting a B1B2 visitor visa in order to join a private vessel in US waters.

The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) says that a B1 visa is available to any “crewmen of a private yacht who are able to establish that they have a residence abroad which they do not intend to abandon, regardless of the nationality of the private yacht. The yacht is to sail out of a foreign home port and cruising in US waters for more than 29 days.” The FAM is basically the guide book for all State Department and Foreign Service staff, so if you can prove that you fit this description, there is no reason to worry.

Let’s assume that all goes as planned and you walk away smiling with a visa in your pocket. Most crew think that they are in the clear at this point, but there are a few other important details to remember. First of all, which visa were you issued? The combined B1B2 is very common, but it is also possible to receive either a B1 (business), for example if you already have a job lined up, or a simple B2, for pleasure only. This is extremely important to be aware of!

When you pass through Customs and Border Control in the US, your passport will be stamped with your entry date but also with the date at which time you MUST leave US soil. Depending on your situation, this could be up to 6 months from when you arrive, but it is at the discretion of the officer on duty at the time so be nice! This information used to be recorded on a paper I-94 form but recently the process has been made electronic for air and sea travellers. If you would like to obtain a paper copy of your I-94 or check your arrival/departure record, you can do so at www.cbp.gov/I94

In addition, they will record the status of your entry, i.e. whether you entered for business (B1) or for pleasure (B2). If you are headed to the US without a job, it is imperative that you enter as a tourist, in other words, with B2 status. With this tourist status, crew are lawfully allowed to register with crew agencies and look for work. However, it is important to note they you are not legally allowed to accept daywork.

And the fine print doesn’t end there. Not only are you not technically allowed to daywork, if you are offered a job you are not legally allowed to accept it as a B2 tourist. This requires exiting the US and returning, with boat employment papers (from a non-US flagged boat of course), and being stamped in with B1 status.

Let’s say you have followed all the rules so far but you need more time. Your B1B2 is still valid, but the date on your I-94 is running out. It is possible to extend your stay, but you must file a request (Form I-539) with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. And you must do this before your time expires - at least 45 days before to be safe. Under no circumstances should you ever outstay the departure date on your electronic I-94. Even a day or two could mean that you are denied entry the next time around.

If you are one of the lucky ones who manages to land a job and sail away from all this mess, you should make sure that your departure from the US is recorded by the Customs and Border Patrol so that you are successfully checked out of the country. If you were previously issued a paper I-94, it should be returned to CBP. If your I-94 was electronically issued, check your status to make sure it is correct. I realize that this may seem like one slap in the face too many, but the risk of doing otherwise is really not worth it.

If you leave the country on a private vessel (which is usually the case), and your departure is never recorded, the next time you apply for admission into the US you may be accused of having overstayed your welcome the last time. If this happens, the shiny visa that you worked so hard for could be revoked, and you might be sent back to where you came from.

If you've stayed with me this far, you're probably feeling a bit sick, considering other professions, or simply cursing me and all my American-ness. It is easy to be overwhelmed and disheartened by this procedure which is far from streamlined, but don’t let it get you down. In my opinion, the problems that have surrounded this B1B2 issue for so long are due primarily to a lack of information and preparation. So consider yourself armed with the facts. You know what you need and you know what to say. Now get out there and make me proud. 





1 Lift eFoil 

There are some basics it is taken for granted every superyacht toy box will play host to: a great Jet Ski or two, a few surfboards and, of course, some water toys for the children. However, if you want your garage to be truly up-to-date heading into the New Year then there a few new launches from 2017 you shouldn't be without. Click through to tick off our list of the best new toys that came to our attention this year...

Lift eFoil

Electric surfboards are nothing new, but throw foiling technology into the mix and this futuristic water toy is suddenly taken to the next level. The Lift eFoil is sure to turn heads across the world when the first units are shipped out in September. Nine years in development, this all-carbon board is the brainchild of company co-founder, engineer and all-round watersports enthusiast Nick Leason.

The easily replaceable lithium battery can deliver up to 60 minutes of on-water fun at speeds of up to 21 knots. A choice of interchangeable foils allows for a wide range of flying sensations and when the battery starts to run low, the eFoil will switch to an economy mode to help you get safely back to shore. The hand-held throttle controller displays speed and battery levels and the unit is wirelessly linked to the silent electric motor via Bluetooth. What’s more, the eFoil will cut out automatically if the controller is more than three metres away from the board or submerged in water, thus eliminating the risk of a runaway surfboard causing havoc. Available in a choice of lengths (1.67 metres or 1.52 metres) and colours (black, blue, green or purple), the eFoil is priced at $12,000 and the first limited edition units can be secured for a refundable deposit of $6,000 – a small price to pay to see jaws dropping wherever you surf. 

Lift eFoil, $12,000liftfoils.com



2 Hammocraft 

They are usually strung between trees but hammocks could just be the perfect craft for laid-back parties in secluded coves or lagoons. Hammocraft has been perfecting its product – a lightweight aluminium frame that sits on an inflatable paddleboard or kayak – for decades, and it is now available to the public. The various frames hold differing numbers of hammocks, which are all easy to put together and collapse to fit in a single bag. In a welcome nod to safety, the hammocks are suspended by a “slot-and-knot” system that means they can be disconnected swiftly in the event of a flip. You can buy just a frame but we’d recommend splashing out on the paddleboard or kayak kits that include everything you need. The new $2,725 Kayak Kit, for example, comes with two Perception Tribe 3.5 metre sit-on-top kayaks and ENO Single Nest parachute nylon hammocks and is designed for rocky bottom, light chop, rocky shoreline and variable conditions. 

From $895, hammocraft.com



3 Gemini Zapcat FF-15 

When they’re off duty, some of the Land Rover BAR team hit the water on Zapcats. If you were a fan of the Z10 and the EVO-1 Zapcats, the brand has a new catamaran inflatable racing boat, the Gemini Zapcat FF-15. The secret to this super-fast inflatable is its light weight and shock-absorbing tunnel hull design. This means the Zapcat is an exceptionally stable inflatable, capable of dealing with extremely rough seas and large surf. 

The two-passenger FF-15 comes with a 50hp outboard engine and weighs less than 150kg including the motor. You can opt for a standard configuration but there are several modifications and extensions you can select. Choose between left-handed or right-handed control, spec your own colours for the tubes, or swap the floor panels from wood to a composite material, for example. However, it is unlikely observers will be able to view your bespoke choices for long as you scream by, skimming a foot or more above the water. As Giles Scott, Land Rover BAR’s tactician says: “They’re epic fun, fast and very cheerful.” 

Zapcat FF-15, £10,000, gemini-marine.co.uk



4 Seabreacher S 

The follow-up to the original Seabreacher - the custom toy that looks like a swordfish - Barcelona-based brand Charterdart has been working with crew to develop the new Seabreacher S. Specifically designed for yachts, the Seabreacher S is part of a growing trend for semi-submersible toys. Users sit inside the sealed cockpit of the whale, shark or dolphin shaped vehicle and use the easy-to-learn controls to flip, dive, jump and roll through the water. A bubble-style screen allows for panoramic viewing while a 300 horsepower engine gives a top speed of 60km/h, an in-built stereo system provides entertainment and an AIS tracking devices means you'll never get lost.

Seabreacher S, POA, charterdart.com



5 Platypus 

A French company has hit upon the novel idea of producing a craft that can travel both above and below the surface of the ocean. The Platypus semi-submersible has been designed with shallow underwater exploration in mind. It’s essentially a catamaran with the addition of a central water wing fixed by mechanical arms to the rest of the boat. Once activated, those arms swing down and submerge passengers up to 1.5 metres underwater. 

The six-metre Platypus can reach up to 14 knots on water but is limited to three knots when below the waves. It has space for an on-board Nardi breathing system, so there’s no need to bring individual tanks, and you can even communicate with fellow divers using the Ocean Reef masks. You can also choose between conventional fuel or electric power, and there’s a digital periscope to let you check the environment before any action. Interested? You can pre-order the Platypus now. Prices range from €60,000 for the basic model to €150,000 for a “pimped” version. 

Visit platypuscraft.fr



6 Pukas LED surfboard 

When Juan Mari Indo heard there was to be night surfing for a competition in Spain, he struck upon the idea of creating a special board that would light up and put on a show as the surfers did their tricks in the water. The end result was the limited-edition LED surfboards from Pukas, which let the rider program in the colour cycles and flashing patterns for a personal display in the waves. 

Indo inlays RGB LED light strips into the surfboard, then they are sealed in by glassing over the top of them. The light strips are then operated by remote control and the whole board is charged much like you would a mobile phone. Before you head into the breakers, choose your program: want to feel warm? Go red. Highlight your eco credentials? Switch to green. Or match the ocean with a corresponding blue light display. As each board is made bespoke, expect a waiting time. The price will depend on the level of illumination incorporated. 

Pukas LED surfboard, POA, danielsurf.com

5 Special Events to Celebrate on a Superyacht


By Alexander Coles for A Luxury Travel Blog

Everyone’s looking for a way to make their special occasion that little bit more special. After all, while weddings in vineyards and honeymoons in a Maldives bungalow are undeniably gorgeous, they have been done rather a lot.

You want something different. We get it.

Whether you’re planning a wedding or a honeymoon, a loved one’s birthday party or a milestone anniversary, you’re looking for an experience that is entirely unlike any other special event you’ve been a part of—one that you’ll remember with a thrill for the rest of your life.

In order to create an extraordinary special event, there are seven golden rules to finding the perfect venue.

  1. An event venue that’s staggeringly gorgeous, and wildly out of the ordinary.
  2. Superb staff ensuring every last detail is perfect.
  3. Gourmet cuisine prepared by a private, highly-trained chef
  4. A location backdrop that inspires wonder…and exceptional event photography.
  5. Indoor and outdoor space.
  6. Luxurious accommodation onsite.

Above all, the greatest events offer privacy and exclusivity to the group—a sense that what you’re doing is somehow separate from the world, a day almost outside real life.

Which is why superyachts are the ultimate event venue for special occasions.

Here are five lifetime events that are perfect to host on a luxury yacht charter, with some practical information to assist in your decision-making.

1. White wedding, blue sea

‘I got married on a superyacht’. Now that’s something you don’t hear every day. And now it’s in your head, don’t you want to be the one to say it?

There are so many good reasons to marry on a yacht, beginning with the spectacular venue, with glamorous deck spaces for the ceremony, or an opulent interior if you’d prefer to say your vows surrounded by a décor of marble and gold. When it comes time to party, the reception can spill over the decks, with music playing, guests dancing in the moonlight, and (no doubt) a few guests jumping in the sundeck Jacuzzi as the night wears on!

The yacht’s luxurious staterooms provide for up to 12 people, meaning your bridal party and loved ones have stunning accommodations right onsite. As for the backdrop, you’re only limited by your imagination. Imagine getting married on the Amalfi Coast or the in tropical islands of the Caribbean, where the incredible views of yacht and sky and sea make for truly breathtaking wedding photography. The imagery of a white wedding dress against blue sea is a visual match made in heaven, and the yacht provides the perfect location shoot for unforgettable images—from the bridal party posing on the foredeck to the happy couple jumping on the bed in the master suite.

The yacht’s professional crew are another superb reason to get married onboard a yacht. Superyacht crew aren’t the typical hotel or venue staff, who are often transient or temp staff, and are sometimes uninterested or poorly trained. Instead, crew have spent their yachting careers looking after ultra-high net worth individuals, from celebrities and princes to oil magnates and Swiss bankers. They’re also accustomed to entertaining onboard, with event charters during high-profile events like the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. In short, it’s not their first rodeo, and yacht crew will handle your special day with consummate style and professionalism, and liaise carefully with any florists, celebrants, wedding planners etc.

As for the chef, they’ve been cooking for these same elite guests, and are accustomed to preparing fine dining cuisine across many cuisines and dietary requirements. You’ll have control over the menu, and if your wedding is large and requires outside catering, the chef is on hand to assist.

Even more blissful, when it’s time for the honeymoon, the guests just depart and you float away…

The logistics

Most (but by no means all) charter yachts have passenger licenses of 12 guests if the yacht leaves the dock and heads out to sea. This means you can either have an intimate wedding at anchor and return to port for the party, or alternatively you may wish to host your wedding ceremony in a glamorous marina, such as Monte Carlo so that more people can attend the ceremony. There are some yachts the are classified as passenger vessels and do not have the 12 guest limit, which are very in demand. Also look into the legal regulations in the country you’re marrying in: for instance, if you’d like to get married on a yacht in romantic Santorini, you’ll need to arrive in Greece a week before. A reputable yacht broker will have experience planning events, so rely on their expertise.

2. Enter honeymoon heaven

Can you imagine a better way to start married life than drifting through paradise on a superyacht?

Watch land fall out of sight and enter your own private bliss of swimming off the yacht and dining by candlelight, having luxury beach picnics on coral atolls and spending happy afternoons strolling through exotic ports. Each meal cooked by the yacht’s private chef, each morning waking to a perfect new view out the large windows of the master suite, each night relaxing in the Jacuzzi with a glass of champagne, looking up at the stars.

Your captain and crew will always be on hand to wait on your hand and foot, but also give you the privacy you want on your honeymoon- to laugh and play and plan your lives together.

Unlike spending your honeymoon in hotels or villas, you won’t have to spend time in traffic or changing hotels to move around from one gorgeous beach or island to another- the yacht takes you where you want to go.

The logistics

Logistics? There simply aren’t any. You just arrive, the crew unpack your luggage, and you don’t have to lift a finger for the entire time. But unlike a cruise ship, you have total control over what you do, and eat, and see. If you crave adventure, the captain will organise night dives and jungle trips and white water rafting. If you just want to relax, the captain will organise masseuses to the yacht and a succession of secluded anchorages, each more beautiful than the last. One useful tip though is to fill out the preference sheet from your broker, so that the crew have an idea ahead of time what you like to eat and drink and do, as well as little details like what kind of music you like so they can create the perfect yacht playlist.

3. Babymoon bliss

The babymoon concept has become wildly popular in recent years, and little wonder: this is the last time a couple gets to relax and be pampered as a couple without children. No matter how excited you are about the arrival of your new baby, a trip for the two of you on a yacht is a heavenly moment captured in time that you’ll look back on for many years to come. (Particularly when you’re up all night with a screaming baby and remember how soft the bed on the yacht was…)

Spend a week having long lie-ins, exploring exotic places, snorkelling crystal clear waters, and reading books on a deckchair, surrounded by the sparkling sea. And while you probably won’t want to leave, another great thing about having a babymoon onboard is that you’ll realise just how perfect luxury yacht charters are for family vacations, so you can return when you have children.

The logistics

Just like any babymoon planning, you’ll want to choose a destination where you’ll be doing your cruising close to land, ensure there’s a good hospital nearby, and get good insurance. Some tropical yachting destinations currently have the Zika virus, so talk to your yacht broker about popular alternative babymoon destinations such as the Seychelles, the Amalfi Coast, the French Riviera, Sardinia, or Croatia.

4. Milestone anniversary, making new memories

A yacht charter for a wedding anniversary is an idyllic way to reconnect and create new memories.

The two of you might want a relaxing holiday away from the cares of normal life, or perhaps you want to explore your shared interests, maybe with an art-lover’s yacht charter down the French Riviera or a gourmet food and wine charter along Italy’s Cinque Terre to Tuscany.

If you’re a lover of grand romantic gestures, the yacht can easily organise your stateroom to be filled with roses, a romantic picnic on a sandbank in the middle of the sea, or even a ceremony to renew your vows.

Whether you want it to be just the two of you or bring the children for a special family event, it’s hard to beat a yachting holiday as a way to mark your time together.

The logistics

Again, there really aren’t any. Just remember, the more information you give your broker, the more prepared the yacht’s crew will be to deliver an anniversary that the two of you will treasure forever.

5. A party to remember

Whether it’s your husband’s 50th birthday party in Monte Carlo or your 8 year old’s pirate-themed party in the BVIs, a luxury charter yacht makes an incredible venue for a celebration. It will certainly not be one they forget, as friends and family drink cocktails on the sundeck, or you watch your kids chase the crew around the yacht on a Caribbean treasure hunt and dive-bombing into the water.

Your yacht crew will have experience throwing glittering parties on the yacht, so just talk to your broker and to the crew about what you want, and they’ll co-ordinate with any organisers, decorators, or caterers to ensure the event exceeds your expectations.

The logistics

As we explained in the wedding section above, most superyachts have passenger restrictions of only 12 guests, but these only apply when the yacht has left the dock, so most big yacht parties tend to happen in famous marinas, such as Cannes or Saint Tropez. Having the party in port (as happens during the Cannes Film Festival for example) means that you can have a much bigger guest list, so speak to your broker about numbers and planning. Of course, if you’re hosting a child’s party or more intimate celebration, a 12 person limit for cruising offshore may be perfect for your needs.

How to Pack for The Yacht Week


From Paper Planes Blog

Since I had never even been on a day sailing trip before, I certainly didn’t know how to pack for The Yacht Week and seven days on a boat (read more about the trip through the Thai islands here).

I asked for suggestions on my Facebook Page and was impressed by all the responses I got – people go sailing more than I thought – what have I been doing?? The best help came from Liz Gillooly of Moxie & Epoxy, which makes sense as she’s a sailboat captain (how cool is that?). Here’s what she had to say:

Bathing suit and a hat. You’re good to go. 

Seriously though, if I was doing it this would be my bag:

  • 2-3 bathing suits
  • 2 shorts (board shorts are great)
  • tons of underwear (nothing better than getting out of wet bathing suit bottoms)
  • 3 tank tops
  • sarong
  • hat
  • sunscreen
  • sunglasses
  • backup sunglasses
  • camera
  • beach dress
  • rain jacket
  • face wipes to wipe the salt off after a swim
  • Kindle loaded with good books
  • towel
  • good snorkeling gear
  • GoPro

You’ll probably spend your days in a bathing suit so you don’t need to worry about too much else.

Then she said, “Didn’t realize it was for The Yacht Week, the packing list is slightly different for an event like that!”

There’s a loose dress code when it comes to The Yacht Week. We were told to follow the “Three C’s of TYW Fashion: Cool, Casual, Classy” as well as bring a nicer evening outfit for a special Christmas dinner and white outfit for one evening’s white beach party. Along with those guidelines, it was pretty much bathing suits (Liz was totally right), cover ups and sandals all day, everyday.

If I were to do it again, this is what I would take.

How to Pack for the Yacht Week

Clothing (or lack thereof)

  • More bathing suits than you think you need
  • Swimsuit cover ups (2)
  • Long sleeved shirt, chambray button up or light jacket (if I were sailing somewhere else I would definitely take a couple more warmer things for breezy evenings, but in Thailand in December it is pretty much hot 24/7.)
  • Hat (make sure that it stays on your head well, several girls on my boat brought hats but never wore them since they were just flying off)
  • Two pairs of sandals or flip flops (don’t worry about tennis shoes or other shoes, you’ll either be wearing sandals or going barefoot, and take two pairs of sandals just in case one goes overboard…)
  • Shorts (2)
  • Loose pants (1)
  • Sundress (1-2)
  • Clothes to sleep in
  • Plenty of underwear and a couple comfy bras (I tend to travel only with sports bras or lace bralettes, especially when in hot destinations)


  • All the usual stuff: toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, conditioner, etc. (bring small containers – you don’t have much space in the cabins and want to keep your stuff as small and condensed as possible)
  • Any medications you need + Dramamine (just in case…I rarely get motion sickness but took some pills along with me just in case – you don’t want to get stuck in the water and starting to feel sick – and took one before working on my computer just as a precaution)
  • Face wipes
  • Baby powder (my travel go-to – helps your skin stay less sticky in the humidity and works as a dry shampoo)


  • Camera and/or GoPro (You’re going to want to take lots of photos! Make sure you have waterproof cases!)
  • Battery chargers
  • External battery chargers (the power on our boat was hit or miss and having an external battery pack for my phone, etc. definitely came in handy)
  • (Don’t take a computer unless you absolutely have to)


  • A couple pairs of sunglasses
  • Waterproof bag and/or waterproof cases for your electronics
  • A beach towel (there were towels in the cabins to use, but good to bring an extra one for sunbathing or going to the beach)
  • Costumes (whatever floats your boat – there were plenty of Santa Clause getups the week I went just for the fun of it)
  • Face paint (cause when else can you paint your face as an adult…)
  • Floaties (serious flotation devices I saw: a watermelon, a swan, slices of pizza, and a pretzel…these are all necessary)
  • Cards or board games
  • Books, magazines or Kindles (you have a lot of time to simply chill on the boat between destinations and activities)

Don’t take anything you particularly love with you if you can help it. Between things easily going overboard, being misplaced or ruined it’s best to just stick with the basics.