Many assume the megayacht segment is resistant to economic downturns because affluent buyers don't feel the financial pinch. However, this is no typical downturn.
"This category in the market is normally impervious but not in a deep recession like this," Jim Eden, a longtime broker with International Yacht Collections, told Soundings Trade Only.
He said that the 20 to 25 percent dip in megayacht brokerage sale prices during the last few years translates to multimillion-dollar "discounted" prices on yachts. Prices, however, are starting come back up.
"The dip's over; we're starting to see prices creep up and firm up," Eden said of the megayacht market. "The boats are selling."
Show Management, which produces the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, reported more than 155 yachts over 100 feet at this year's show, and another 100 from 90 to 100 feet.
IYC displayed 14 yachts, from an 81-foot Cheoy Lee to a 177-foot Trinity.
"The traffic was definitely off from years past, but the quality of the buyers was great," Eden said. "I had two serious new clients and was working with three existing clients on brokerage boats. Two new guys of this quality in these times at the show is just great."
One of the new clients was interested in a 150- to 160-foot new build, while the other was looking for a 120- to 130-foot brokerage boat.
Karen Blake, vice president for Palladium Technologies, which designs yacht monitoring systems, alarm security software and entertainment systems for yachts 100 feet and larger, reported a "really good show."
"We were so busy Thursday and Friday I had trouble getting into our booth," Blake told Soundings Trade Only.
She attributes much of the success to new product. Palladium, which introduced the SiMON yacht monitoring and control system in 1991, has added entertainment systems and electrical switchboards to its offerings. And its iSiMON software allows users to monitor yachts on their Apple iPhones.
"We found with more yachts being crewed by younger crew, they are all very familiar with this technology," Blake said.
Blake acknowledged that the megayacht segment has felt the economic downturn and noted some owners mothballed their yachts the last couple of years.
"But I think people are slowly starting to feel comfortable," she said. "The siesta is over for some of these people."
— Rich Armstrong