We’re going to need a bigger panty.
South Florida’s insatiable appetite for yachts — coupled with their blistering size — means marinas are scrambling to accommodate financiers and celebrities desperate to create their floating mansions.
“South Florida has become a highly desirable place to live, not only domestically but globally,” said Carolyn Stone, Palm Beach Town associate manager for business and culture.
“Yachting is part of the luxury lifestyle. There just wasn’t enough berth for the bigger yachts.”
The shortage has led to a rush to secure parking spaces for behemoths up to 300 feet long, with some owners spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually just to park them in prestigious spots.
Stone said a well-heeled slip contender paid over $500,000 annually for a spot in the city of Palm Beach’s marina for two years, totaling well over $1 million — while he was still waiting for his boat to be built .
“They’re willing to pay it because they’re afraid of losing the spot,” she said.
according to a Report in the Palm Beach Postrecently paid nearly $12 million for a house only to land its precious 400-foot boardwalk for his yacht — and plans to demolish the building.
Nicole Haboush, senior charter broker manager at TJB Super Yachts, said mooring arrangements are usually made before a sale is finalized to avoid an angry client.
“You don’t want to buy the boat and then find out there’s nowhere to put it,” she said.
The Town of Palm Beach Municipal Marina has completed a $40 million renovation that has transformed it into a world-class facility – with complex electrical infrastructure to power yachts and 24-hour security.
The marina had just a single berth for boats over 200 feet before the renovation – now there are 10.
Among the premium vessels that call the facility home are the 257-foot Amaryllis, reportedly owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Borodin, and industrialist Leo Vecellio’s $60 million Lady Kathryn V.
But even with expansion, waiting lists — and requests from yacht owners for accommodation — continue to rise, Stone said.
Demand is such that applicants are willing to pay the required $10,000 to join the queue.
The city of West Palm Beach is also looking to capitalize on the marina mania, recently announcing plans for a new $16 million facility to accommodate hungry boat owners.
According to a study by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, boat sales in the Sunshine State rose to $19 billion in 2022 — a 197% increase from 2018.
Local observers said the COVID-19 pandemic sparked an unprecedented boom in the yachting industry as the rich and famous sought solace offshore.
But as the armada of megayachts began to invade South Florida’s waterways, officials and private marina owners soon found demand outstripped supply.
Many local marinas have been dormant family businesses for decades.
With their waterfront properties suddenly coveted by potentates from around the world, many old-guard operators sold them for millions.
“Venture capital saw the potential here,” said Patience Cohn of the Marine Industries Association. “They bought them all up, modernized them to accommodate some of the larger boats and consolidated them. They discovered this niche and flocked to it.”
Safe Harbor Marinas – the largest operator in the world – acquired the Rybovich yacht complex in West Palm Beach in 2021 and rapidly developed the site.
Stone said the explosion in the marina business has had a far-reaching impact on the region – even driving up real estate prices in previously dormant residential neighborhoods.
Because yachts need crew year-round to maintain and operate them — even when in dock — developers are building apartments around Rybovich, in part to house everyone from captains to mechanics, Stone said.
The Related Group development company recently completed Icon Marina Village, a 399-unit apartment project right next to the Rybovich complex.
“This is where people want to be,” Haboush said, noting that the prestige of a superyacht is not only determined by its length, but also by where it calls home.