Yachts are sailing vessels used for either racing or recreation. The term is derived from the Dutch words jacht and schip, meaning â€˜ship for chasing’.
In the early 1600’s the Dutch ruled the seas of Europe. Dutch royalty and noblemen (burghers) used yachts as pleasure craft, drifting lazily over the waters dominated by them. In 1660 the city of Amsterdam presented Charles II of England with a 20 m long pleasure yacht. The King was so taken up by boat that he and his brother James II began building yachts. In 1662, the royal brothers raced 2 of their yachts down the Thames from Greenwich to Gravesend and back for a 100 pound wager. Thereafter sailing matches became fashionable and the yachts became bigger, some of them exceeding 350 tons.
The Americans made yachting a symbol of a luxurious and elegant lifestyle, with George Crowinshield’s Cleopatra’s Barge that cruised the Mediterranean in 1815. Though yachting continues to be a sport, it is now associated more with an uber rich life style.
The original sails of luxury yachts have long since been replaced by internal combustion engines.
The 21st century has ushered in an era of super mega yachts, built but family owned yacht businesses in Amsterdam Hamburg and Bremen. The world’s longest yacht is 163.5 m, but the Lurssen shipyard is building a yacht that will be about 180m. Herbert Aly of Blohm+Voss super yacht builders predicts that yacht lengths will eventually reach 200m.
The most luxurious yachts in the world are owned by Hollywood bigwigs, supermen from the world of Information Technology, Sheikhs, Sultans and Prime Ministers from the Middle East and Russian billionaires. These mega yachts are custom built, with the ship builders developing a personal relationship with the owner. There is much secrecy surrounding the owner of the yachts as the builders are bound to keep the owners name confidential. The interiors are super luxurious, but also super private and photographs are not available.
If you wanted to buy a used yacht, built in the 80’s you would need to have a minimum of 50 thousand dollars. If you wished to commission a luxury yacht you should have at least 200 million dollars lying about as loose change. Aside from the astronomical cost of the vessel, the crew needs to be maintained all the year round. A large yacht needs a minimum crew of 20. Anchoring charges at exotic ports of call and home ports are astronomical, so the romance of yachts remains but a dream for almost everyone on the planet.
The most expensive yacht in the world is currently the Eclipse. It is owned by a Russian billionaire Roman Abromavich. The cost of building this monstrous vessel can only be estimated as secrecy surrounds its actual cost. The estimates vary from half to one and a half million dollars.
The Eclipse needs a crew of 70 members, but takes only 24 guests. It is a highly private vessel. It has its own defence system. Inquisitive intruders and snapshot seekers are detected immediately. The paparazzi are outwitted by ultra-modern light technology that blocks photographs.
The Eclipse comes equipped with 2 private submarines and a helipad.
The Eclipse is on the verge of being eclipsed by the most bizarre and decadent of mega luxury yachts. The Streets of Monaco, currently under construction will cost a minimum of one billion dollars.
As its name suggests the deck will replicate the streets of Monaco with casinos and a miniature Monaco Grand Prix Track. There will be tennis courts, swimming pools, cafes and exceptional underwater views.
Bizarre additions include a go kart track, a man made beach and believe it or not a private beach!