Megayachts hitch rides aboard bigger ships to get to boat show on time

It's become an annual pilgrimage of sorts for many yachts bound for the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show for their owners to book passage aboard mammoth transport ships to get them here faster and more safely than sailing on their own.

One Fort Lauderdale outfit specializing in this transatlantic yacht transportation trade is Dockwise Yacht Transport, which has been providing piggyback rides to super yachts moving from one cruising ground to another since 1987.

In a recent shipment arriving at Port Everglades from Genoa, Italy, DYT's 686-foot Yacht Express ship had 19 vessels aboard, 10 of which ranged between 98 feet to nearly 200 feet in length.

The precious cargo of water toys had a whopping $248.1 million in total declared value, according to DYT.

Among them was the 187-foot Brook motoryacht Bad Girl, which was returning to its South Florida base at Rybovich superyacht marina in West Palm Beach before heading out on Caribbean charters.

"We save on wear and tear on the main engines and fuel, and wear and tear on the yacht," said Stephen Hilton, the vessel's captain Wednesday, while waiting for the offloading to begin. "We get here a little bit faster than if we'd traveled on our own."

The Mediterranean to Fort Lauderdale crossing takes two weeks on Yacht Express compared with about three to six weeks if a vessel traveled on its own bottom.

During the loading process, Yacht Express submerges to allow the big boats to sail into its "floating marina" and customized supports are placed under each vessel. The ship then rises out of the water, leaving each boat individually dry-docked, and more fasteners and supports are put in place before departure.

Another vessel arriving Wednesday was Impulsive, a 126-foot Norship motoryacht that was headed to the boat show, which runs Oct. 31-Nov. 4, at six city locations. The yacht, which will be on display to prospective buyers is listed for sale for nearly $4 million by Fort Lauderdale brokerage Northrop & Johnson.

"It doesn't have the range to come over on its own bottom," Impulsive's captain Sean Ives said of the decision to use the transport service. "This gives the owner a chance to have the boat here for the winter, and the crew gets a holiday as well."

Dockwise specializes in transporting yachts typically from 25 feet to more than 200 feet in length. Its main market is the transatlantic (Florida, Rhode Island and the Caribbean to the Mediterranean), which peaks in September, October, April and May. While prices vary depending on season, itinerary and other factors, it can cost about $250,000 to $275,000 to carry a 150-foot yacht one-way from the Mediterranean to Fort Lauderdale.

"Our ships fill up quickly because we hold the client service bar so high," said Catalina Bujor, DYT's marketing officer. "We deliver flawless service to some of the most demanding clients in the world — most of which are repeat clients — and it is these high standards that distinguish our company from the rest."

DYT was recently purchased for an undisclosed sum by Sevenstar Yacht Transport, a global yacht shipper and subsidiary of the Spliethoff Group, the largest shipping company in the Netherlands.

asatchell@tribune.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport.