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Forget McMansions, What About A McYacht?

In this weekends article, Ahoy, Up-and-Comers: The Rise of McYachts – A new generation of boats — and boat owners — makes waves in the clubby world of yachting [WSJ] [1], the large boat phenomenon is discussed. Its not a housing article but it makes me feel better knowing that wealthy consumers are not placing all their disposable income into housing. They are buying other big stuff too.

So for those of us who wonder where all the money is coming from to buy the latest home with an 8-9 digit price tag, we still don’t know, but we can feel good about the fact that they also buy boats. Very big boats. The article covered the resurgence of large private boats sales due to… you guessed it, lower financing rates and easier terms.

For years, the one-upmanship at elite marinas has focused on 400-foot, $200 million-plus floating mansions. Now, thanks in part to a booming charter industry and easier financing, a new class of yachts is growing suprisingly quickly. They are the nautical world’s McYachts, luxurious 120- to 200-foot vessels costing anywhere from $13 million to $80 million. With banks using yacht loans to lure high-end clients, the initial cash outlay can be $4 million or less.

Leslie Wexner, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Limited Brands, is credited with kicking off the current U.S. big boat craze when he launched a 315-foot yacht called Limitless in 1997. Its size was a shock — and also an inspiration. And while 20 years ago, there was one American-owned craft among the list of 20 biggest yachts compiled by Power & Motoryacht magazine, today’s list contains five, including Larry Ellison’s 453-foot Rising Sun, which ranks No. 2, and two boats that belong to Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen: the 413-foot Octopus and the 301-foot Tatoosh. In New Orleans, Trinity now has contracts to build 18 super sized-yachts, including one that will be 230 feet long, and it is negotiating to build two 300 footers.

For the McYacht-sized boats, getting into the game doesn’t take as big an infusion of cash as a 300-plus footer — though the operating costs add up. While a 150-foot yacht costs anywhere from $25 million to $50 million, its annual operating costs are at least 10% of the purchase price. Filling up the 10,000-gallon tank of a 150-foot yacht with diesel fuel on Nantucket costs about $37,500.