Lifestyle magazines and movies have romanticized the idea of yachts so much that anyone who can afford it wants one. But before you can head off over the horizon, there’s a hurdle to get over – buying it. Considering the high stakes and technical know-how required, buying a yacht is no easy task. It is easy to get scammed or charged absurdly high rates for a sub-standard yacht. Luckily, we’ve got your back. Keep these tips in mind while shopping for a yacht to make sure you get the best deal.
1. Get Help from the Experts
A yacht has many elements to it. If you want to purchase the yacht that’s right for you, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these items. Ask for help from people who already own some kind of passenger boat. Get them to show you how to operate it, and understand the terminology involved. If you are not aware of any such person, go for online videos, tutorials, and reading the material. Remember, an ignorant buyer is a lot more susceptible to being scammed. If you know the basics of a yacht, you’re more likely to spot a good deal and avoid the fraudsters.
2. Know Your Requirements
How big do you want your yacht to be? Will you use it for traveling, or are you going to charter it out? How many passengers do you expect to have? Do you prefer speed or a luxury cruise? How much are you willing to spend? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you start hunting for a yacht. Once you know what you want, it becomes a lot easier to find something that matches those goals. Another important thing you need to ask is whether you’re happy with a production yacht, or do you want to go for a custom yacht. The prices of both differ significantly, and so does their suitability for you. IMPORTANT NOTE: When counting the number of travelers, do not forget to take crew members into account.
3. Familiarize Yourself with the Prices of Yachts
Yachts are a significant investment, and you should expect to spend a considerable part of your savings on one. Production yachts, i.e., yachts that are mass produced and assembled by factories, using general specifications and requirements, generally start around Euro 100,000 and can go beyond Euro 5 million. Semi-custom or fully custom yachts are considerably more expensive. A semi-custom yacht averages about Euro 25 million, while a fully custom yacht can reach Euro 100 million. Another option to consider is buying a previously owned yacht. This brings the initial cost down, but there is always a risk of it being worn or faulty, so the cost of upkeep and maintenance will go up. Buying second-hand is a good option if you have experience in buying yachts, or know someone who does. This way you can keep an eye out for any mechanical or other faults in the boat. Second-hand is also good if you want a customized boat or a yacht with some character and history attached to it. You can use the money you save on the initial cost to refit and customize it to your taste. Being aware of the many elements involved in a yacht is helpful when you negotiate a price with the dealer. Knowing the value of everything involved can help you assess whether the seller is offering you a fair price or not. When it comes to budgeting, it is important to take into consideration the upkeep and maintenance costs. A yacht requires a proper support crew, fuel, and general maintenance. All this can cost you a lot of money every year. Add to this the insurance costs, and you have a hefty bill.
4. Enlist the Help of a Yacht Broker
Just like a real estate agent, getting help from a yacht broker makes the process faster and less stressful. Brokers can help you find the perfect yacht, but you will need to know your requirements and be able to make them clear. Yacht brokers have plenty of experience in buying yachts for customers, thus enabling them to detect a good buy when they see one. Find a good broker either through referrals or by checking their advertisements – but do make sure you run a background check on them too. You can do this by talking to some of their previous customers, asking about their experience.
5. Avoid Private Sellers or Dealers without a Credible Reputation
It might be tempting to get a cheaper yacht from a less reputable dealer or even an individual private seller, but this will significantly improve the risk of scams and frauds. Always go for reputable dealers, who have a reputation to protect and uphold. The private sellers have far less to lose, as they will usually have only one or two boats to sell, so a bad reputation won’t affect them much. When it comes to reputable dealers, one unsatisfied customer can ruin the image they took years to nurture and build. They will go the extra mile to make sure the customer is happy and satisfied because a satisfied customer significantly improves the dealer’s image.
6. Take Your Yacht for a Test Ride
Once you have decided on a boat, it is important to take it out for a test ride. A yacht will cost you a lot of money, so it’s best to be vigilant. Make sure you’re entirely satisfied with the yacht you are about to buy, because once the contract is signed there won’t be much you can do. Save yourself the regret and test your yacht! If you can take an expert on board with you, so much the better – they can point out any flaws, or tell you if the yacht is not as the seller advertised. Sellers may often charge you for the test ride, but if you’re lucky or have good negotiation skills, you can convince the dealer to waive this. Even if you do have to pay, it is still important to check the yacht – they cost a lot, and if you cut corners now, you might be faced with additional maintenance costs later.
A third party escrow service are designed to provide complete safety to buyers when paying for high value transactions such as when purchasing a yacht. No money changes hands between the two parties until all terms and conditions of the sale have been met meaning that there is no risk to the buyer of not receiving their boat. If you are looking to buy a yacht, contact us today to ensure that your transaction is secured. We look forward to serving all your yacht needs
Once you’re satisfied, you can finally sign that contract. At this point, make sure you have complete documentation and proof of ownership. Only then can you enjoy your boat. If you have no prior experience in sailing, hire a crew and maintenance staff, or get some training.
Competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace, prospective purchasers will find it more cost-effective to purchase new construction with warranties, as opposed to a comparably priced brokerage boat. As such, purchasing a newly constructed vessel has become an attractive option for both experienced boaters and first-timers. When constructing a new vessel, the shipyard will inevitably ask you to sign a purchase agreement detailing the build. Regardless of the nature of complexity or type of contract, purchasers should keep in mind three important factors prior to signing an agreement. First, where is the boat being delivered upon completion? Secondly, how will changes be handled and the progress of payments? And thirdly, how will a default by the shipyard be handled?
In today’s global marketplace, boats may be purchased from all over the world. Oftentimes the shipyard is in a different location where the vessel is built, than where it will be delivered. In certain circumstances, the yard will ask the purchaser to take delivery at the yard and then would be the owner’s responsibility to move the boat to its ultimate destination. Whereas in other cases, the yard will agree to deliver the vessel to a point chosen by the purchaser. This can have major implications with regards to warranties and sales or value added tax.
The delivery point can have major influence on a purchaser’s decision making because, depending on the jurisdiction, it can add a significant amount to the cost of the vessel. It is best to consider the tax ramifications of delivery prior to signing the purchase agreement in order to provide the most favorable terms to the purchaser. If you have not had a chance to speak with a maritime lawyer or tax professional prior to signing the contract, you might consider leaving the delivery location as “to be determined” until you have had a chance to speak with a qualified professional.
The second point to consider with regards to delivery is when the warranties will begin to run. Typically, warranties on the vessel do not begin to run until the owner takes delivery of the vessel. It becomes important to know when and where that delivery will take place in order to know when the warranty period begins. As issues come up in your first year of ownership, as oftentimes happens, this date may become important in the future.
The second major issue we see in new construction is how to handle change orders and progress payments. Change orders are common in new construction agreements as owners continue to see the progress of their vessel and decide that they want to add or change features that they did not originally contemplate on. Shipyards would be happy to accommodate the purchaser but at an added cost. It is important for the contract to specify which changes will be considered to be significant and which changes can be accomplished at no further charges. Depending on how change orders are handled, it can have substantial implication on the overall cost of the vessel.
Additionally any increases in the cost of the vessel, changes in orders can affect the amount of time it takes to complete the vessel. Prior to making a change order, the purchaser should request that the shipyard provide a clear estimate of the amount of time that will be assigned to each change. While it is expected and understandable that changes can add to the time it takes to complete a vessel, change orders should not give the shipyard a blank slate to complete the vessel whenever it wants to or drag out the construction. The contract should contemplate changes and assign reasonable amounts of time and cost for the changes to be completed.
The contract also needs to contemplate at what point progress payments will be due. This can sometimes be a set of defined milestones the shipyard must meet prior to the next or final payment being made. While in other contracts, it calls for every single milestone to be met in each stage of the construction prior to payment. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of agreement. When it is necessary that 100 percent of milestones be reached prior to payment, the purchaser is guaranteed to have the entire stage completed before he makes a payment. The drawback is that if there is a delay or backorder on parts, a stage may be nearly completed but construction will have to stop until the part is received and installed and the next payment is tendered. On the other hand, if the purchaser can be satisfied that a predetermined certain percentage of a progress stage is complete in order to make the next payment, progress can continue on schedule without being delayed by back ordered materials or similar issues. The drawback of this type of agreement is that the purchaser may have made a progress payment while a significant part of the vessel remains unfinished while the shipyard waits for materials to arrive. A prospective purchaser should weigh the pros and cons of each option prior to purchase.
The final issue we see involving new construction contracts is how to deal with default by the shipyard. Default typically happens in two ways; either the shipyard goes bankrupt or the shipyard fails to complete the vessel in a timely manner in compliance with the agreement. Each purchaser should ensure that there are provisions in their purchase agreement that protect them in the event of default. The easiest way to accomplish this is to include a penalty clause for each day the completion date is pushed back because of a default by the yard. The total delay cost can then be subtracted from the final payment made by the purchaser. It is important to carefully define scenarios in which the shipyard will be penalized for their delay.
Another consideration to include in the contract is which party will retain possession of the vessel under construction and any materials purchased for the vessel in the event of a default or bankruptcy by the builder. Many purchasers may have an interest in retaining both the hull under construction and already purchased materials to take to another shipyard for completion. Oftentimes, if a shipyard reaches the point of bankruptcy, it will not have any other assets available for the purchaser to recover the purchaser’s costs already incurred. This means the vessel, as is, and any materials are the only way to recover for the purchaser.
The purchase and construction of a brand new vessel can be a very exciting time and one that the purchaser can easily get caught up in the excitement. New vessel construction contracts can be very complex agreements with a number of provisions that have serious monetary ramifications for the prospective purchaser. In spite of the excitement, purchasers would be well advised to enter the agreement with caution and to seek professional counsel before signing any shipyard agreement.
Contact our ASSET- V Team Today for more information.
Public awareness of the shipping industry has changed over time and whereas it was once seen as an exciting and romantic undertaking, today it is mainly perceived negatively. And most criticism is directed at shipping’s supposed disregard for the environment.
It is true that ships run on fuels that do produce harmful exhaust emissions but while there may be an element of choice in this, the main reason is a combination of economics and insufficient availability of alternatives.
Today, the burden of regulation on exhausts is getting heavier and while the technology to reduce pollution is being developed, it is not always suited to all ship types or operations.
Compared to shore-based industries, shipping has fewer opportunities to control and contain the inevitable pollution that can occur. A power station on shore can easily accommodate large items of emission control equipment and in the event of a problem it can easily be shut down and its output to the grid made up by others. That is not an option available to a ship at sea.
The problems of controlling ships’ exhaust emissions are compounded by the way the regulation has evolved, tackling first one component of the exhaust, then another and another without the realization that combustion is a complex chemical process and controls on one gas may influence the production of another.
Some would argue that exhaust emissions need to be considered as an inevitable side effect of human economic activity and while there may be some detrimental effect, overall the wealth created by trade and the food and raw materials transported to where they are needed most improves the quality of human life and raises living standards.
Environmental regulation is not all about exhaust emissions and few would argue against controlling deliberate pollution of the environment by hazardous chemicals and substances other than in a dire emergency. On the other hand, disposal of food waste and even sewage is of questionable harm in the deep oceans and viewed dispassionately could even be beneficial providing nutrients for marine life and recycling essential trace elements. Nevertheless, it is regulated and most shipowners do comply with the rules in place.
Developing equipment and technology to control the environmental impact of shipping is spread over a wide range of ships’ activities and understanding the means available to limit the impact is taking up an ever greater amount of an operator’s time and investment.
Useful tips for yacht refit preparation and yard time
It is important to plan yard period well in advance; early planning will always save the owner money. The yacht captain or manager should be aware of the class surveys that are due, but it is not unusual to find yachts with overdue surveys for the simple reason that they were forgotten about.
Often, yachts have planned the cosmetic work that will be carried out during the yard period, but have partly or totally omitted to take into account the classification surveys that are due. Overdue docking surveys mean yachts that have been dry-docked are often left no other option but to haul out again.
Yacht captains and managers always need to check the survey status when planning a dry dock, and, if in doubt, you can always contact your yacht management team for advice on where you stand with surveys.
For example, yacht intermediate surveys normally require sanitary tanks to be opened up for inspection, this can be done any time between the second and third annual survey, effectively with an 18-month window to present the tanks for inspection. It is always better to have this done while the yacht is in the yard instead of doing it in a marina, as it is always more convenient to have a tank cleaning team in a shipyard than to end up having to arrange for tank cleaning in a Mediterranean marina in the middle of the summer season.
Although dry-docks are generally very long compared to commercial ships dry-docks, planning is key to a cost effective yard period. Here are some useful steps to follow:
• Hold a pre-inspection meeting with your yacht management office prior to the yard period to define the scope of the upcoming surveys, this is particularly important to plan the extent of the engine survey that can be costly depending on the amount of opening up.
• Advise the team as early as possible of any work planned that may require a formal design appraisal. This can take a few weeks, and if not planned in advance, you will find that the yacht may have already left the yard before the design review is complete. It is, of course, always best to take into consideration recommendations made at the design review prior to starting the job. You should also keep in mind that when doing a major alteration on a yacht, the rules that apply may not be the rules that applied at time of construction. For example, yachts fitting new stabiliser units having to comply with new regulations found that they have to fit water tight compartment around new stabiliser when these did not exist on the old units.
• Look at the latest amendments to international regulations to check if any modification has to be carried out on the yacht. For example, rail and track systems for certain flags.
For special surveys:
• When doing special surveys for yachts over 15 years of age, try to ascertain the amount of steel work repair before the dry dock. Very often the wasted areas are visible in the bilges or under air conditioning units, on tank tops or in the engine room. It is always better to make an assessment of the amount of steel replacement before coming into dry dock.
• Clear out all the bilges and tank tops so that the inspection on board can be effective. Expect to remove some insulation on deck heads and bulkheads. The difficulty on board a yacht is the access to and visibility of structure hidden behind furniture, insulation and teak.
• For the docking survey, prepare to have measurements taken on the tailshaft and rudder stock. Check the last reading of the cutlass bearing clearance as you may expect to have to replace the bearings. Previous readings will indicate if replacement of bearings will be needed.
For engine surveys:
• Plan for an electrician to be present to check tightness of electrical connections.
• All ship side valves will have to be removed for inspection, this includes underwater exhaust valves.
• Keep a record of all maintenance carried out; if service reports are thorough this may be helpful to decide on the extent of opening up the engine.
• Prior to completing the surveys in the yard, do not ask your surveyor to complete surveys too early; if you still have two dozen of contractors working on board and half of the doors still in the paint shed, it is not time for the annual survey.
For more information, visit Lloyd’s Register.
A shout of “fire” is probably the most dreaded word to hear aboard any vessel. Fires are deadly and destructive, can be difficult to put out, and could ultimately cause the loss of the vessel and/or loss of life.
All crew, especially deck and engineering officers, spend much time and effort undergoing firefighting training and participate in numerous fire drills. Special training is devoted to engine room fires that is where most vessel fires originate. Emphasis is placed on fire prevention including good housekeeping practices and the removal of any one element of the fire triangle (fuel, heat and oxygen) that will cause a fire to go out or not start in the first place.
All yachts built today are designed with fire prevention in mind and include fire bulkheads, non-flammable materials and have systems and equipment to detect fires and extinguish them. There are many fire items aboard such as smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, firefighting gear and tools, fire pumps and plumbing, etc. There are fire safety plans, international rules and a host of measures designed to prevent and, if prevention is not successful, to extinguish fires.
Even when extinguished, depending on the severity and longevity of the fire, much effort and expense will be spent in repair and cleanup, not to mention the vessel being out of service for some amount of time. Fires become exponentially more costly for every second they burn.
Yet, no matter how hard we try to deal with the prevention of vessel fires, they still occur.
Origins of oil mist fires
An important area of fire origination in engine rooms is oil mist. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognizes the extreme danger of oil mist fires in vessels: ISO 16437:2012 “The majority of fires which have occurred in engine rooms are generally caused by a leak or fracture from a flammable liquid system. Most engine room fires begin as a result of the ignition of oil mist.
Many mariners are not even aware that oil mist is a fuel and can be present in the engine room without any warning. Oil mist is typically introduced to the engine room via a tiny perforation, fracture or leak of pressurized oil (fuel, lube or hydraulic) from injectors, fuel lines, high-pressure pumps or high-pressure oil lines that atomizes the fluid as it escapes. It is frequently undetectable by the naked eye.
Oil mist may also form when oil contacts a hot surface causing the oil to vaporize. Oil mist is quite small, with droplets in the 1-10 micron range, and tends to disperse evenly in the surrounding air. It has a large surface area and a low flash-point temperature, making it very flammable when sufficient quantities are present. If the quantity of oil mist reaches the lower explosive level of 50 mg/liter and comes into contact with a heat source of 200 degrees C, it can explode.
Ignition can come from heat sources such as bearings, turbochargers, exhaust systems and electrical sources such as electric contacts, faulty wiring, motors and static electricity. Oil mist explosions in large engine crankcases have been recognized for many years and devices to detect this have been required for quite some time. More recently, attention has been given to oil mist in the ambient air in engine rooms, and oil mist detectors for this specific problem have been developed.
Oil mist detectors vary
There are two types of oil mist detectors for engine rooms. The earlier “sniffer” systems have been around for a while. This type will extract engine room air into the unit and analyze it by nephelometry, the detection of oil mist due to light scatter. If oil mist is present, an alarm will be generated.
They work well, however, there are some disadvantages. Multiple units are needed to effectively sample the various areas in the machinery space because each local point of the machinery space ventilation will require a separate unit. The units are pre-calibrated so no adjustments are possible. Each sampling unit is somewhat bulky and most require AC power, so if the problem lies with the electrical generator, they stop functioning when the generator is shut down unless a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is provided. They have moving parts (fans), which require periodic maintenance, and some units have filters that must be changed. The nephelometric chamber that houses the light source transmitter, measuring receiver and compensating receiver will need periodic cleaning. This type of system is typically found on large commercial vessels.
A more recent type of oil mist detector is the optical opacity meter. These were also developed for large commercial vessels but because of their small size, they are ideal for yacht installations.
Initially, infrared light was used but the most advanced systems now use a laser. The laser is transmitted from the transceiver to a reflector and back, a double-pass detection method. The optical qualities of the laser are precisely known so any oil mist present will be detected by the opacity of the laser light.
There are a number of advantages to this type of system: They are much smaller, streamlined units. The transceiver and reflector can be mounted from 1m up to 15m (50 feet) apart, providing a large area of coverage. Generally, two units will cover a large engine room and the main reason for the second unit is not only to provide more coverage but to also provide redundancy. They are also fully programmable so that warnings and alarms can be adjusted to any opacity parameter.
These systems integrate into the vessel’s communications system using MODBUS TCP/IP protocol so they are easy to install. They have no moving parts so the only maintenance required is to periodically wipe the lenses clean. They use DC power (typically 24 volts), the same as most modern electronics, so are not affected if the vessel’s generator is taken off line.
Another big difference is that these types of oil mist detectors will also detect the presence of smoke. Earlier versions had more false alarms because of the longer light path, but advances in the quality of the laser optical beam analysis and the ability to program the units have greatly reduced or eliminated this problem. Multiple transceivers can work off of a single PLC (programmable logic controller).
Yacht safety comes first
Additional transceivers can be installed to protect other machinery spaces that have the potential for oil mist, such as generator rooms, hydraulic spaces (stabilizers and thrusters), and steering gear areas (lazarettes). Besides protecting from fire hazard, the early warning of oil mist presence will pay dividends in keeping the yacht’s machinery spaces clean. The system is type classed and certified by DNV-GL for classed vessels. Most importantly, it gives the crew an early warning of a hazardous fire situation.
Marine insurance companies are still unaware, for the most part, that these systems exist for yachts, but this will change as more oil mist detectors are installed and fire casualties are reduced. This is already the case with commercial vessels, especially tankers and cruise ships.
Firefighting and fire extinguishing are important, but fire prevention is even more so. Preventing fires is the most cost-effective method to avoid injury, damage, and loss.
Malta offers great diving, deep harbors
Malta is a southern European island country comprising an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles (80 km) south of Italy, 176 miles (284 km) east of Tunisia, and 207 miles (333 km) north of Libya. The country covers just over 122 square miles (316 square kilometers) and has a population of just under 450,000, making it one of the world’s most densely populated countries.
The capital is Valletta, which, at 0.8 square kilometers, is the smallest national capital in the European Union.
Malta’s location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004. In 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.
Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including three Unesco World Heritage Sites, and seven Megalithic temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. If old churches are of interest, Malta has 365 of the most exquisite churches, one for each day of the year.
Malta has three large natural harbors on its main island:
- The Grand Harbor at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbor since Roman times. It has several extensive docks and wharves, a cruise liner terminal, as well as a number of marinas. Grand Harbor Marina accommodates the largest yachts. It also has a terminal that serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo and Catania in Sicily.
- Marsamxett Harbor on the western side of Valletta has a number of yacht marinas, Manoel Island Yacht Marina being the largest, able to accommodate yachts to 80m. It is centrally located in Gzira so chandlery shops, shopping malls, supermarkets and tourist services are all accessible within a short walking distance. In the vicinity, one also find numerous restaurants, bars and convenience shops.
- Marsaxlokk Harbor (Malta Freeport) at Birżebbuġa on the southeastern side of Malta, is the island’s main cargo terminal. Malta Freeport is the 11th busiest container port in Europe and 46th busiest in the world.
There are also two manmade harbors that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbor on Malta and Mġarr Harbor on Gozo. There is a marina in Mgarr that accommodates smaller yachts to about 22m.
Depths are not an issue in and around Malta. Anchoring is difficult, though, as depths reach 40m and more just 4.5m from shore.
Malta is a huge dive destination for Europeans. There are many artificial reefs made by sunken ships and numerous cave dive sites. Although the waters are extremely clear, do not expect as much coral and sea life as one would see in the Caribbean. Many seaside resorts in crystal clear water-bays surround the islands.
The food generally has an Italian influence and in most places, one can order in Italian language, as it is the third unofficial language, after the official languages of Maltese and English.
Fishing is not one of the islands’ advantages, as we found out on our research. Most fresh fish is from multiple floating farms strategically placed around the islands. Beware of them as they are moved around and may cause navigation hazards.
There are plenty of other things to do and one should tour all three major Islands, as each has different things to offer.
Visitors total about 1.5 million a year, so traffic can be unpleasant. Local transportation, on the other hand, is organized and affordable.
For some owners who wish to take extended trips over a number of months, having a tutor on board means that children can enjoy the experiences world-wide cruises can bring, while not negatively affecting their educational progress. There has been a growing trend where yacht owners are organizing cruises for their family – sometimes for over a year – and taking their children out of school. Not only do these trips offer the unique opportunity for children to live aboard a yacht, but also experience a non-traditional educational platform.
When bringing a new teacher on board the yacht, it can be difficult for a tutor to assimilate themselves into the existing crew dynamic. Of course, the tutor would not be seen as a member of the family, but also neither would they be a traditional crewmember.
Tips for tutors and yacht owners
- Tutors are encouraged to become a multi-faceted member of the yacht’s crew. They should be able to offer a range of skills so they are a useful member of the team.
- Hiring should only be to those who have trained professionally as teachers. For those that have actively chosen to teach children, this could be a way to combine their vocation with an unforgettable opportunity to travel the world.
The advantages of education on a yacht
The children’s education often surpasses any that they would have in schools. Whereas a round-the-world trip would have previously been seen as damaging to child’s schooling, a dedicated onboard tutor offering four hours of teaching per day is often more effective than a full day at a ‘normal’ school. There are a lot more people doing this, and a lot more people considering it. There’s a sense that it’s not detrimental to the child, it’s actually good for them. Schools are also supportive of that.
For many, the lessons learned on board, as well as the undivided attention of the tutor, means that the pupils often return from their voyages with superior knowledge to their classmates. The children usually come back ahead of where they left. By the time the child returns from that trip, they’ve not only had the life experience, the worldliness, but they also have all their academics fixed.
This career route could be an opportunity for teachers who wish to change their environment for something a little different, or for a crewmember looking to add another string to their bow.
The concept of education is becoming more fluid, with schools and parents moving away from the traditional regimes found in established institutions. If qualified teachers are looking for a change in environment, becoming a private tutor on board a superyacht could offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Similarly, if crew wish to pursue a career that ensures longevity, becoming a certified tutor is a way to stay in the yachting market and adopt new skills. The market may begin to see a crew/tutor role as a more viable option and common part of any yacht’s team.
Malta is one of the countries to offer a citizenship by investment programme. However, what is it about this little island, that sustains its position, and is amongst the top 5 countries voted as having ‘Best Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programmes’?
Without a doubt, Malta continues to be a popular tourist destination. However, its remarkable resilience and growing economy, has increased its popularity among high net worth individuals and in turn helped make its Malta Individual Investor Programme one of the leading and most advanced citizenship programmes available.
The Malta Individual Investor Programme, commonly known as MIIP, was the first EU Approved citizenship programme and designed to facilitate Maltese Citizenship by investment to non-Maltese nationals and their dependents. It grants a Certificate of Naturalisation of Malta to any reputable foreign individuals and their families who contribute to the national economic and social development fund, and who meet the eligibility and qualification requirements of the programme.
If successful, applicants can benefit from visa-free travel to over 160 countries, the right of work and establishment in all 28 EU countries, potential tax planning benefits, not to mention a good quality of life, excellent healthcare and great educational opportunities for their children, all amid an economically and politically stable jurisdiction.
Whilst those who apply for the programme are primarily looking to live and/or work in the EU and take advantage of the benefits identified above, many have also come to acknowledge the property investment opportunities, which happen to also form part of the MIIP qualification requirements.
Under the MIIP, an applicant must hold a property in Malta with a minimum purchase value of €350,000 or a minimum rental value of €16,000 per annum for at least five years as well as remaining resident on the island for a minimum of 12 months – as such, many applicants are looking to take advantage of Malta’s property market with a more long-term property investment as part of their application.
Whilst at face value this may seem like quite a commitment, Malta’s property market has become ever more attractive to those interested in property investment, in particular, those also looking to acquire a dual passport and citizenship in an EU member state. But why is this?
Firstly, Maltese property has been appreciating at well above the EU average for a number of years, resulting in rising property prices (an increase of 8.86%), a strong rental market and a continued demand for property.
The purchase process in Malta is easy and painless and with modern computerised Land Registry records, title disputes and post-purchase planning problems are much rarer than many other southern European locations.
Maltese property has attractive tax arrangements. Malta has no real estate taxes such as council tax or rates, nor does it have any wealth taxes. Having no succession taxes is an attractive benefit for HNWIs who are planning to leave their wealth to their families when they die. Malta does have an acquisition tax, albeit just 5%, however for a high-value property this can still be significant relative to the cost of acquiring and holding the property via a trust. The use of a property trust in Malta can also have other non-tax advantages, such as avoiding altogether the succession rules on the basis that the property doesn’t form part of the individual’s personal estate.
Malta tax is only payable on the final sale of a property. As above there is an acquisition tax but there is a Capital Gains Tax exemption worthy of note, which is available on the sale of the main residence.
For rental properties (residential or commercial), Malta also offers an optional special 15% tax rate for rental income.
Malta’s property market has not suffered the instability other European markets have; as such its stability together with its low-interest rates has made for a cost-effective way for investors to acquire a high-value portfolio.
So whilst investing in Maltese property may make good business sense, why consider combining this with acquiring residence and citizenship there? Besides an average of more than 8 hours of sunshine a day, crystal blue waters and a typical Mediterranean climate, Malta is a safe and resilient jurisdiction, home to a stable political environment and a growing economy. It has grown into a regional hub and centre of excellence across many business sectors and is one of Europe’s leading financial centres.
Its’ business-friendly and the economical stable environment remains focussed on doing business.With close proximity to nearby markets in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, it also offers foreign investors a number of opportunities and benefits.
To this end, not only does it make great financial sense as an investment opportunity – it’s an opportunity for applicants and their families to enjoy a home from home in a safe and stable jurisdiction near difficult to beat by others offering similar citizenship by investment programmes.
In an ideal world, the aspiring yacht owner would walk down to his nearest marina, hand over his cash and take possession of his shiny new vessel. Cruising the waves as much or as little as he liked with little additional costs. Unfortunately, when it comes to purchasing and owning a yacht, life is not so simple!
Yachts come in various shapes and sizes, from a 30ft sailboat, up to extensive luxury motor vessels capable of accommodating and entertaining large groups of people for long periods at sea. Obviously, the latter category will come with a considerably higher price tag and ongoing running costs. Buying a yacht of any type or size is a major acquisition, and just like the purchase of any other major asset, should be well thought through and planned out to avoid a number of potentially expensive pitfalls.
Perhaps the first question to answer is how to pay for your yacht in the first place. The first decision to be taken is whether you wish to buy your vessel outright or whether a structured funding solution could bring substantial additional benefits. Loans are widely available from banks, many of which now have dedicated marine finance teams or from a specialist marine finance company. Structured solutions can be arranged via trust companies and special purpose vehicles, which tend to be the domain of fiduciary and corporate services specialists.
One of the most common ways of financing a yacht purchase is by taking out a mortgage on the vessel. Yacht mortgages come in various flavours to suit an individual’s particular needs. As with a house, a plain repayment mortgage would enable the buyer to pay off the principal and the interest at the same time over a defined period. The disadvantage, of course, is that interest rates can rise as well as fall so that there is no certainty as to what future monthly repayments may be. However, some lenders offer time-limited interest-only yacht mortgages. Here payments will cover the cost of interest for a certain period – for example, 12 months – with the facility then reverting to capital and interest repayments for the remaining term.
A more creative solution could lie in using a trust, a company which owns the yacht, the asset can be made to work through a chartering programme, for example. A special purpose vehicle will be established to hold a deposit for the yacht which is held as a security against future loan repayments. These funds can be held on deposit and so will grow with interest. At the same time, revenues from chartering feed into the ownership company which then funds the purchase of the yacht. Revenue from chartering could substantially pay off the yacht costs within two to three years on this model. As a result, the owner would achieve a far more effective and profitable outcome.
It is also important to ensure that all the appropriate legal requirements are followed once you have made an offer. Rules vary from country to country of course.
It is also important to make clear within this contract that the vessel will be sold subject to finance approval, and if the boat is second-hand, subject to a satisfactory survey and valuation.
You will also be required to have insurance in place before the loan can be approved and issued. Just like insuring against any other risk, marine insurance policies come in many shapes and sizes depending on the level of cover required, and evidently, this will be reflected in the level of the premium.
Running Costs and Other Considerations
Overall running costs are likely to equate to around 10% of the value of the vessel each year. There will be a range of costs to consider, the most obvious of which are maintenance and repair costs. You will also have to pay an initial and ongoing annual fee to have your vessel registered in the jurisdiction of your choice. Fees may vary depending on the vessel’s size and its intended use (whether it will be used for leisure or commercial purposes for example). Fees also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Furthermore, there may be significant other costs to bear depending on the size of your vessel and how you intend to use it. The chances are that the larger the vessel, the less likely it is that you will be sailing it yourself, so you will need to hire a skipper. The more substantial and luxurious motorised yachts might also require a crew, so this brings employment law and employee rights into the equation, as well as extra costs.
The ongoing responsibilities of owning a yacht are, then, manifold, and could overwhelm even the most diligent yacht owner, particularly if the vessel is moored in one jurisdiction and registered in another. At this point, it is worth considering contracting the services of a yacht management company, or a corporate service provider specialising in marine services. These companies are present in most of the popular yachting locations as well as in jurisdictions with yacht registries. They will assume many of these responsibilities, such as completing the necessary paperwork to register your vessel, ensuring that is maintained, and taking over the hiring and paying of the crew. Using a management company also allows yacht owners to utilize alternative ownership structures which may mitigate the initial and ongoing costs associated with buying and running a yacht, some of which are described next.
When you eventually sell your yacht, costs associated such as VAT payable depends upon where the sale is executed.
While it is perfectly possible in most cases to register a yacht in one’s own name as an individual, there are many disadvantages to doing so; indeed, it is certainly the case that the vast majority of owners choose to transfer their ownership to some form of corporate entity or special purpose vehicle. For example, by using an offshore company to own, run or charter a yacht, it may be possible to take advantage of low rates of corporate tax and reduced rates of VAT on offer in certain jurisdictions. Furthermore, using a company form has certain other benefits in terms of protecting the owner; confidentiality being one of them and limiting the liabilities that may arise in connection with ownership of the vessel being another. If confidentiality is a high priority for the owner, an additional option is the use of a trust company. The owner (settlor) would transfer the asset to the effective ownership of a trustee, who then manages it for the benefit of the beneficiary.
One of the major pitfalls of ownership is that yachts are a depreciating asset which might only be used a few weeks of the year by their owners. Fractional ownership can mitigate some of these cost factors by effectively dividing the costs of ownership among a limited group of people, each of whom owns a ‘fraction’ of the yacht. Fractional ownership entitles you to use the vessel for a set amount of time each year, and fractional schemes are usually run by yacht management companies. In return for a fee, the management company will take on the day-to-day responsibilities of maintaining the yacht as described above. The disadvantage is that the yacht cannot be said to be truly ‘yours’, and you might not be able to use it when you want.
Another way to offset the costs of yacht ownership is to charter your boat to other users, usually through a yacht management or charter company. This enables you to earn income from your yacht while you are not using it by renting it out to others for certain periods of time. How much income you ultimately earn from chartering your yacht will depend on the type of agreement you have with the chartering company. Under some agreements, the income is split equally between the yacht owner and the charter firm. However the owner typically still pays ongoing running costs. Alternatively, it is possible to agree to receive a guaranteed income every month, regardless of how often your boat is chartered out. This reduces risk, but owners may be restricted to a certain number of weeks each year when they can use their boat. And while chartering may be an attractive way to defray the costs associated with yacht ownership, there could well be tax implications in your country of residence on the income you receive.
By using a leasing arrangement, the bank or finance company buys the yacht from the seller and then leases it to the buyer. With this type of financing deal, the buyer does not actually legally own the asset but is instead granted possessory interest. The advantage, though, of using this type of arrangement is that one is not locked-in to ownership, and is able to walk away at the end of the lease term without having to worry about maintenance or selling on a depreciating asset. On the downside, monthly lease payments tend to be higher to take account of depreciation, and the lease owner has to front the risks associated with owning and operating a yacht such as liability for loss in the event of damage.
While buying a yacht may appear on the surface to be a simple transaction, there are in fact many things to take into consideration before taking that plunge. Which route to ownership is ultimately taken will, of course, depend heavily on a person’s circumstances, such as their own financial standing, where they live, and how they intend to use their boat, among other things. Thankfully, there is a growing community of professionals in this field which can steer yacht owners onto the right course and take much of the hassle out of the ownership experience.
Contact us to find out more :
Asset V is a specialist ship management practice dedicated at managing luxury and superyachts, expedition passenger vessels and cruise vessels on a worldwide basis.
53, Old Theatre Street
Valletta VLT 1427
T. (+356) 2540 7990