What a year it’s been, huh? One for the ages, to be sure, and one to put in the rearview posthaste.
When we last saw you in print, Covid-19 was just getting traction in the United States. Who knew then that it would have such a profound impact on the way we function? Finding solace in routine pleasures—dining out, spending time with family and friends, and anything else that involves normal social interaction outside our own bubbles—has been hard to do. We’ve learned to get by on Skype, Zoom and a swarm of other virtual meeting platforms, which ultimately are far less satisfying than in-person, eyeball-to-eyeball contact. We’re all paranoid about venturing out in the company of strangers. As we hear on TV ad nauseam, these are indeed challenging times.
But not everyone is suffering. While businesses around the world have struggled to stay afloat, some segments of the yachting industry are booming. Some, particularly builders of smaller boats, are having their best quarters ever.
Why, in the middle of deep economic stress, is this happening? The reasons are obvious. Boats offer a ticket to freedom from the fear and paranoia that permeate our newly weird lives ashore. Time on the water with family and close friends is much as it has always been, only more rewarding these days.
The smaller-boat industry traditionally has offered near-instant gratification for those who need a dose of H2O. You know this if you’ve tried to buy a day boat of any kind this summer, or attempted to procure a kayak or a canoe, or have sought to have a pool built. The supply shortages make it apparent that people are buying into the notion that life’s too short not to pull the trigger on aids to recreation.
And with European Union workplace and travel restrictions easing, the superyacht industry is signing new contracts and cranking along with existing orders. Yes, lingering travel challenges and economic jitters are affecting the way shipyards do business, but they’re changing the way they connect with clients and figuring it out, like the rest of us, employing video conferencing and other communications strategies.
The charter industry was restarting bookings in the Med and Bahamas as of midsummer. Owners have been taking deliveries of new boats from yards in Holland, Italy and beyond. Things aren’t exactly looking rosy yet, but people are finding workarounds to get themselves on the water.
The new Covid paradigm is causing everyone to push the creative envelope. Designers have their eyes on the horizon, trying to make sense of what our waterborne future might look like. As Luiz DeBasto tells Jill Bobrow in her profile of him in this issue, the pandemic has him thinking about how to design the ultimate go-anywhere-in-safety superyacht, with enough room for extended family, a gaggle of friends and a heavy dose of old-school fun.
If you haven’t indulged yet, get out on the water on whatever floats. Have yourselves, your families and your crew tested, and head for your favorite bay or cove and chill out. Better still, go for a lazy cruise. Like the proverbial kidney stone, this will pass and we’ll all feel much better.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 issue.