ON CHAR­TER

THE SUM­MER SEA­SON’S IN FULL SWING, BUT IT’S STILL POS­SI­BLE TO SCORE A LAST-MINUTE MEDITER­RANEAN CHAR­TER. HERE’S HOW.

Yachts International - - Contents - by Kim Kavin

LAST-MINUTE SUM­MER CHAR­TERS IN THE MEDITER­RANEAN

Maybe a sur­prise open­ing just popped up on your Au­gust cal­en­dar. Or maybe you hemmed and hawed and have no­body to blame but your own pro­cras­ti­nat­ing self. Ei­ther way, if you’re look­ing to book a last-minute char­ter in the Mediter­ranean this sum­mer, you still may find a yacht, but do­ing so will re­quire flex­i­bil­ity and a will­ing­ness to act fast.

Top char­ter bro­kers say yachts up to about 150 feet long (45 me­ters) with five state­rooms, in the $100,000- to $120,000-a-week range, were all booked at least six months in ad­vance this year. So were the larger yachts with six state­rooms, though as of early June, some larger yachts with five state­rooms were still open.

Be­tween the spate of early book­ings and the rel­a­tively few yachts of­fer­ing dis­counted rates for July and Au­gust—not to men­tion yacht own­ers feel­ing flush from the roar­ing econ­omy—bro­kers were pre­dict­ing a seller’s mar­ket this sum­mer.

“I’d say that avail­abil­ity will be limited, but we may find some­thing,” says Bar­bara Daw­son, se­nior char­ter bro­ker with Cam­per & Ni­chol­sons In­ter­na­tional. “There’s al­ways a boat pop­ping up, or a can­cel­la­tion. And it de­pends on what kind of boat they’re look­ing for.”

Liz Howard, a long­time char­ter bro­ker with Fraser, agrees that last-minute clients need re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions.

“We can find some­thing won­der­ful, but it may not have the dé­cor they want,” she says. “Good bro­kers, this is our job, and we will find some­thing.”

Howard says one key to a suc­cess­ful last-minute in­quiry is un­der­stand­ing how yacht own­ers think. Many clients are con­fused, she says, when they of­fer to book and a yacht owner de­clines.

“In the past, a lot of the last-minute Med book­ings have been peo­ple who think it’s like a ho­tel, that if there’s an empty room, they’ll fill it at a dis­counted rate,” Howard says. “That is not the case this year— at all. Own­ers would rather leave their boat empty or use it them­selves.”

She urges clients to be ready to book within a few hours’ no­tice, be­cause they’re not go­ing to be the only ones seek­ing last-minute op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“What I send to you at 9 a.m. may not be avail­able at 5 p.m., es­pe­cially dur­ing July and Au­gust in the Med,” Howard says. “The other thing that peo­ple don’t un­der­stand is that if they call me on a Fri­day and say that they want a boat for Sun­day in the Med, there are sit­u­a­tions where I can do it, but at that point, it’s about bank­ing. If we don’t have money in the ac­count, that boat’s not leav­ing the dock. We can do it in 24 hours, but it’s all about bank­ing and time zones.”

After sev­eral decades of do­ing such deals, Howard says, she urges clients to trust her with a front-loaded ne­go­ti­at­ing tac­tic.

“I’ve had peo­ple call me and say they want a boat for to­mor­row in the Med,” she says. “I say, ‘OK, you have to wire me $200,000 to a trust ac­count and we’ll try to find a boat, and if we can’t, I’ll send it back to you.’ Be­cause if I find the boat and we can’t move the money fast enough, that boat is not go­ing to leave the dock.”

If a client has the cash ready to trans­fer, Howard says, a yacht owner is more likely to want to make a last-minute deal.

“You want to be a bird in the hand,” she says. “If the owner knows there’s money there, he may just ac­cept it.”

Daw­son says that no mat­ter how late in the sea­son it gets, it’s worth pick­ing up the phone to talk to a sea­soned bro­ker, one who knows how to find yachts that other bro­kers might miss.

“Some­times, you can find a great deal at the last minute,” Daw­son says. “You never know.”

By this time of year, most crewed char­ter yachts in mari­nas like this one are booked. Top bro­kers say it’s still pos­si­ble to find open­ings, but clients will need to be flex­i­ble with their re­quests.

char­ter bro­kers Bar­bara Daw­son (top) of cam­per & ni­chol­sons in­ter­na­tional and Liz howard of Fraser say last­minute book­ings are pos­si­ble.

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