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Choosing a Charter: The Joys of Power Yachts

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On a powerboat, it’s ‘when will we get there?’  On a sailing yacht, you’re already there — Ami Ira

There’s a great saying that aptly describes the difference between power versus sail. That is, “On a powerboat, it’s ‘when will we get there?’  On a sailing yacht, you’re already there,” shares Ami Ira, managing director of C U Yacht Charters, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Speed, comfort and convenience are what power yachts offer, explains Ian Pedersen, assistant marketing manager at the Moorings, headquartered in Clearwater, Fla., which charters a fleet of 36- to 50-foot power catamarans. “Power yachts open up the world of chartering to an entirely new audience who may not be familiar with sailing, but who are familiar with powerboats and may even own a powerboat themselves. Boaters are not limited as to where they can go due to the wind or weather. If the object of your vacation is not to spend time sailing but to maximize your time exploring different snorkeling holes, beaches, or sampling the local bars and restaurants, having a vessel that can quickly get you from A to B is invaluable.”

Powering Up the MarineMax Yacht Charter Division

Photo Courtesy of MarineMax Vacations
Photo Courtesy of MarineMax Vacations

Demand for power yachts in charter fleets is on the rise, says Raul Bermudez, vice president of the charter division for Clearwater, Fla.-based MarineMax Vacations, which offers 38- to 48-foot luxury power cats. “In the U.S., there are approximately 10 times more power boaters than there are sailors, but the opposite is true when it comes to the number of power boats available to charter.”

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The need for speed on a power yacht brings with it the unique ability to explore and see more while on charter. One itinerary, offering a wonderful example, departs from Nassau and powers through the Exuma chain, recommends C U Yacht Charters’ Ira. “It is easy to cover a lot of different islands, see the most amazing crystal clear clean water and sand anywhere, and in typically calm seas.”

As for comfort, power catamarans tend to offer better accommodations than sailboats plus they can typically cater to more guests, MarineMax’s Bermudez explains. “In order to get the same amount of accommodations and comfort that you find on say a MarineMax 484 power catamaran, you would need to charter a 70-plus foot monohull.”

The desire to be pampered is another big reason clients charter power yachts.

C U Yacht Charters’ Ira explains, “The powerboat charter guests don’t want to help sail the boat, they want to be entertained, cooked for, doted on, and made to feel special. For example, clients can often eat better on a chartered power yacht, they can drink from fine crystal while underway, they can have a massage, take a dip in the hot tub, take the wave runners out for a spin, slide down the waterslide, all of course, depending on what toys are available on the yacht they charter.”

Photo Courtesy of The Moorings
Photo Courtesy of The Moorings

Power also allows the charter guest to enjoy all the conveniences of home while on the water.

“The power boats in charter typically offer a lot more equipment than what is found in sailboat charter boats,” MarineMax’s Bermudez says. “For example, the entire MarineMax Vacations charter fleet has water makers, electric BBQ grills, air conditioning, fresh water electric flush systems, state of the art electronics and don’t forget the fancy stereo systems.”

The biggest concern clients  voice when choosing between sail versus power is cost. This mainly relates to fuel. However, says C U Yacht Charters’ Ira, “In my opinion, Americans like to see value for money, and they tend to consider the more places they can see in a week, the better the value.”

Fuel is really the only additional cost to consider when comparing a power catamaran versus a sailboat charter, explains the Moorings Pedersen. “Other than the fuel charge, which is assessed when you return the boat, every other aspect of the trip is very similar to what you would expect from a sailboat charter regarding cost.”

Fuel consumption varies greatly depending on how fast the boat and how often the generator are run, says MarineMax’s Bermudez. “On average, for a full week of charter, fuel consumption on our 382 power cat that has twin 110HP engines varies from as little as $350 up to about $650. On our four stateroom 484 with twin 330 Volvo engines the fuel consumption varies from $750 to $1,250. Power catamarans in charter today are very fuel efficient, therefore the cost is not that big a factor when compared to the room and amenities you can get on board.”

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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