It’s business before pleasure, even for floating pleasure crafts. With cruises headed for the Caribbean along with area boat shows, it’s full steam ahead for ocean-going yachts, South Florida and Rybovich.
“A very typical sequence: Many yachts come to our facility from the Mediterranean at the end of their summer season. They cross the Atlantic on their own or on a transport ship,” said Francois van Well, vice president of business development for Rybovich. “We do the maintenance, repair, paintwork, etc., in preparation for the boat shows or their cruising season.”
Or both. Take the 190-foot Mi Sueno, for example. Built by Trinity in 2010, the yacht that can accommodate up to 12 guests for charter is shipshape inside and out. With luxurious interiors designed by Patrick Knowles, amenities include Honduran mahogany, maple burl and wenge-wood finishes; an elevator; Jacuzzi; splash pool; garage for toys; and touch-and-go helicopter capability.
It’s also fast, said its captain Glynn Smith. “Along with our many special features, we also have a great capability to increase our cruising footprint. While most yachts cruise at 13 or 14 knots, we cruise at 17 knots. That means we can get to places quicker.”
Last fall, Mi Sueno came across the Atlantic in bad weather and had to stop in the Azores and Bermuda, which caused a week delay. Normally, it can run across the Atlantic in 12 days.
This meant a very fast turnover at Rybovich before the Fort Lauderdale boat show.
“Once we got to Rybovich after thrashing about in the ocean, we had to do a huge clean up, get the engines and generators serviced, and have the minor wear-and-tears repaired,” Smith said.
He and his crew unloaded the sundeck so that they could put the helicopter onboard, took part in the boat show, came back to Rybovich, reloaded the sundeck, provisioned the boat and left for a charter in The Bahamas. “Each time at Rybovich, it took us about 12 hours, and they worked through the night as well, because time was so short,” he said.
On the move
Over a year’s time, Rybovich sees between 30 to 50 ocean-going yachts (from 160 feet to 350 feet) making these kinds of turnarounds, van Well said.
“It’s a big part of our business,” he said. “A lot more man-hours are required on larger boats, and these clients have a limited availability to do their repairs because they are constantly on the move. They know their schedule and they tell us when their yacht has to depart, and we get the work done.”
If a boat has been at the Monaco boat show in September, it’s at Rybovich in October at the earliest. If not, it’s here mid-December in time for a Christmas cruise. Some turn right around Jan. 2 or 3 for spring cruises, and then they head back to Europe or New England in April and May for summer cruises, he explained.
This particular segment of business from the yachting world is new to West Palm Beach, van Well said.
“Large yachts are coming to us because we have the ability to facilitate and service them,” he said. “We bought the dry dock so that we can get large yachts out of the water, and we are continuing to invest toward building a larger facility in Riviera Beach to cater to these yachts, which can bring economic growth to our business and West Palm Beach.”
To make that happen, Rybovich is waiting for a permit to dredge. Also, Huizenga Holdings, the company that owns Rybovich, recently proposed to West Palm Beach a plan to develop a six-tower village on 14 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway. Already approved by the planning board, it will go to the city commission in February.
Now for the pleasure side, using Mi Sueno as an example again. The yacht, which currently is for sale and for charter through Worth Avenue Yachts in Palm Beach, uses South Florida as a base for its Caribbean charters and the boat shows.
It’s offered for sale for $36.95 million and to charter, the price is $300,000 a week in winter for The Bahamas and Caribbean tours, and its high-season summer rate in the Mediterranean is 325,000 euros, said Shannon McCoy, Worth Avenue Yacht’s head of business development.
“Glynn Smith has one of the best ‘can-do’ attitudes of anyone we’ve worked with, and his crew is young and energetic,” she said. “They are so fun, and they cover every detail. They go above and beyond, creating unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
These months are great for cruises to the Virgin Islands, she said. Here’s her suggestion for an enjoyable outing: “The yacht picks up its clients at Yacht Haven Grand in St. Thomas. They cruise to Jost Vandyke, a small island in the British Virgin Islands. It’s fun to anchor out and go to the beach by tender and enjoy the local drink, Pain Killer, at the Soggy Dollar Bar (it’s named that because customers swim in). Then they can walk down the beach and watch a magic show performed by local islander, Seddey, who owns the One Love bar. For dinner that evening, it’s pleasant to visit Foxy, a restaurant that boaters made famous.”
Captain Smith, who hails from Southampton, England and now lives in Fort Lauderdale, especially enjoys his charters around Italy.
“We typically go to Capri and it’s only a seven- or eight-hour hop to Stromboli north of Sicily in the Aeolian Islands,” he said. “With a live volcano, Stromboli is an incredible island. In the evening, our guests watch it erupt while they eat dinner.
“Positano on the Amalfi Coast is absolutely stunning, and another beautiful area is the entrance to Bonifacio, Corsica, where our clients love going through the huge cliffs. It’s a fjord and we back in stern first all the way down about a mile.”
While Mi Sueno can accommodate a helicopter, not everyone charters one, he said. However, there are tenders and plenty of toys on board that his clients can enjoy: jet skis, WaveRunners, Seabobs, inflatables, skis, wakeboards, snorkel and dive gear, even a regulation basketball hoop.
“We did wakeboarding behind this boat down the coast off of Tuscany for a client. It was a spectacular day. Our client was an avid wake boarder, and I asked him if he wanted to do something really cool that nobody had done. We towed two people from 300-foot lines at 16 knots with a wake of 5-to-6-feet high. He loved it. That was one in a million, a magical day, with dolphins jumping in the wake. His face lit up.”
Concerning food, clients will have what they want. No exceptions. “There are no ‘I’m sorry, we can’t get it,’ ” Smith said. “A client might drop $20,000 in caviar, and one wanted to buy $70,000 of Cristal Champagne. Normally we get it in advance, but we will fly it in to make it happen.”
With 7,000 square feet of interior living space overall, on the main deck are a stunning main salon, wine cellar and elegant dining room with a table that can seat 14 guests comfortably.
The full-width, split-level owners’ cabin with 270 degrees of panoramic windows is forward on the main deck and includes a king bed, study, lounge and his-and-hers bathrooms.
Five en-suite staterooms on the lower deck include a full-width VIP king suite, two king staterooms, a wheelchair-accessible queen stateroom and a twin stateroom with a Pullman berth.
There are multiple conversation areas throughout, including three exterior living areas. The upper deck features a panoramic sky lounge with oversized windows and an air conditioned aft deck, and on the sundeck, which is touch-and-go helicopter-capable, are a workout area, bar, Jacuzzi and splash pool.
The crew accommodations support up to 14 crew in seven cabins, including the captain’s cabin aft of the pilot house.
The lower deck is laid out with a beach club/tender garage, the main machinery space, engineer’s cabin and additional crew cabin.
“The mantra of this yacht is ‘fun.’ It’s a toy, and there’s no hotel in the world that can match what we do,” Smith said.
Written for Palm Beach Daily News