Tuesday, May 21, 2013

First they came for the cupcakes

Yes it was the cupcake empire first.

Now another group is in trouble:  the newly sprung up fleets of superyachts.

Super yachts are the oversized marine-SUVs of the wealthy set.  Classified as exceeding 30 meters (98 feet).  Most of them are in the Mediterranean, but it is in Hong Kong that the issue is the most acute.

Nice Boat, No Dock
Jason Chow, Wall Street Journal, 17 March 2013 (hat tip: NC)
Boat owners have reported shortages from Florida to New Zealand, while prices for berths are surging to new highs across the Mediterranean and elsewhere...
For superyachts, though, there's literally zero space available. Hong Kong's largest yacht, the 213-feet-long Ambrosia III, owned by a reclusive tycoon named Ambrose Young, occupies one of just 16 places at the Gold Coast Marina for boats of that size. The waitlist for a spot at that marina can last up to two years or more, the club says. When Paul Allen's 415-foot-long Octopus came to Hong Kong in 2007, the boat had to dock at an unused commercial wharf. Young did not respond for comment, while Allen declined.
As a point of reference, the large U.S. World War 2 destroyers of the Farragut Class were 104 meters (341 feet) long and carried around 160 men on board.
Berthing spaces for these monsters can get up to the $1-million dollar price tag themselves. 
The people of these boats have seen a drop off in sales as places to park them have become an issue.  Less desirable locations are building spots to lure in these desirable wealthy folks, but the wealthy want to go where the wealthy want to go, and second best is not usually in the vocabulary of someone who owns a 70 meter monster.
It is an interesting demonstration in my mind about how financial money, and real money are not fungible (~equivalent).  Through all the loos money floating out there, you have tons of money floating around in the financial system, but trying to pull it out of that system, and convert into something real, is difficult.  The amount of money quickly outstrips what is available in the real world.  You either devalue your currency (like if the Chinese tried to buy gold with their US $ holdings), you inflate the price of biddable items (rare art), or you run out of the item.
The newest catamaran-style superyacht - Island Paradise model (from here)

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