Super Transport Vessel to Carry Cargo
of Luxury Yachts from South Florida to Italy
|A Fort Lauderdale-based company is making waves in the shipping business with the first semi-submersible ship designed solely for transporting luxury yachts.
The $65 million Yacht Express super transport loaded its cargo of 18 luxury yachts on Tuesday and will leave Port Everglades tonight on a 12-day trip to Genoa, Italy.
On board are $150 million worth of yachts, ranging from the 29-foot Double Shot to the 157-foot Lady Joy. Most of the yachts are being sent by their owners or captains across the Atlantic at the end of the winter season to continue sailing or for charter work in the Mediterranean Sea.
The owners pay a premium to avoid sailing the boats themselves. A 150-foot yacht costs about $250,000 to transport one-way, depending on the time of year, said Clemens van der Werf, president of Dockwise Yacht Transport LLC, which built and operates the Yacht Express vessel.
"The main route is trans-Atlantic from here and the Caribbean to the Med," van der Werf said.
San Francisco real estate developer John C. Walsey has paid five times to ship his 121-foot Broward Marine yacht, Java, across the Atlantic. He said it costs about $20,000 to $25,000 more than sailing the ship "on its own bottom," but that "the wear and tear you save on the boat is phenomenal."
Using a 688-foot cargo vessel to move the yacht is also speedier and buys downtime for the captain and crew. One crew member will remain on the Yacht Express as a minder for Java, which is worth about $5 million.
To load its cargo, Yacht Express takes water into its ballast tanks, sinking the rear of the ship 12 feet below the waterline. The yachts are carefully floated into the open interior deck, where they are propped up with temporary supports. When the ballast is expelled, the ship rises, spilling excess sea water out the back. Technicians then secure the ships by welding supports to the deck and fastening the yachts to bollards with 3-inch nylon straps.
Floating yachts onto semi-submersibles is an alternative to hoisting them by crane onto the deck of a conventional cargo ship. Walsey said he's looked into that alternative but doesn't like it. "Any time you lift a boat, you're creating a strain on it," he said. Besides, the float-in option has style.
"It's a neat thing watching this," Walsey said as an exotic 135-foot Palmer Johnson yacht called Dragon was guided into position. "It's really like something out of James Bond."
Dockwise has been using semi-submersibles to transport yachts since 1987 but its other three ships are all cargo vessels modified from the oil and gas business. Built in 2007 in China, the Yacht Express is 130 feet longer than the largest of those ships and has been designed to attract yacht crews as well as their vessels.
Amenities on the ship include a 16-by-16-foot swimming pool and sunning area, compete with teak deck and lounge chairs. The sun deck is overlooked by an atrium bar that serves as a gathering point for "riders" assigned to accompany their yachts. Yacht Express also has a film/conference room where Dockwise hopes to run continuing education seminars, a small crew gym, and a larger-than-usual crew mess hall.
"It allows the crew to have a nice time on board when they cross the ocean," van der Werf said.
With the entry of Yacht Express into service, Dockwise, a unit of the Dutch company Dockwise Shipping BV, will sail monthly through November between Port Everglades and various ports in the Mediterranean. It expects to transport about 400 luxury yachts to and from the Mediterranean this year.
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