As Economy Slips, Yacht Sales Skyrocket

Christensen is selling its 160-foot yachts currently for $36 million. For that price, you get an astonishing 6,500 square feet of interior living space and 3,500 square of feet exterior space. The yacht has six staterooms. All can fit either a king bed or two twin beds and each has a private bathroom.

There is a full kitchen, living room, dinning room and plenty of deck space. The yacht can sleep 12 comfortably plus the crew of 10, which has its own quarters and lounge area.

The yacht has a total of 15 bathrooms and to get from one level to another it comes with an elevator.

A Good Investment

The long waits for a new yacht mean that these boats resell years later for more than the original price.

"We have yachts out there right now that left the yard 10 years ago for $10 million and they'll get somewhere around $19 million for them now," Foggia said.

And if you decide not to spend every week on the yacht, you can always charter it out to pay the bills. Foggia said that one of his company's yachts can rent for $370,000 a week in the Mediterranean during the summer or $250,000 a week in the Caribbean during winter. That fee doesn't include fuel, food, dock fees or a tip for your crew.

Christensen just signed its 13th repeat buyer.

John Rosatti is one of them. He already owns a 157-foot yacht that he bought from Christensen in 2005. He recently ordered a 160-foot yacht that will be ready in 2010 at which point he will sell his existing yacht, the Nice N Easy.

"It's like a hotel on the water. You have your own chef, your own crew and you just go anywhere you want," said Rosatti, who once owned 22 car dealerships in Florida and the Northeast and is now semiretired.

In the summer Rosatti took his family to Europe, stopping by a Formula One race in Monte Carlo, the Cannes Film Festival, Croatia and the Greek islands. In the winter, when his kids are on break, he takes them from the family's home in Florida to the Caribbean on the yacht.

"For me it's a hobby and it's my passion," Rosatti said. "I love boating and being out on water."

Another shipbuilder seeing a surge in business is Northern Marine in Anacortes, Wash.

"Traditionally for us, it has been people in North America, but now we're seeing a lot of demand come over from Europeans, people from the Middle East," said David Mahalko, vice president of sales and marketing. "Probably more so now because of the currency."

The company even offers two versions of its Web site: one in English and one in Russian.

The company's 151-foot yachts — which cost $30 million — come fully loaded.

A buyer gets sofas, tables, tender boats, pillows, sheets, knives and forks. The yacht will even come with a certain amount of artwork.

The Bigger, the Better

"Five years ago, a 130-foot boat would be in the Top 100 largest yachts in the world," Mahalko said.

"Nowadays I don't think you are even in the Top 100 unless you are over 200 feet," he said.

Consider this: In 2003, there were just 10 yachts that were 250 feet long or bigger, according to ShowBoats International, a trade publication.

Last year, 18 such boats were built and 23 are expected this year.

"The Superyacht century truly has arrived," ShowBoats said.

The bedroom in one of Northern Marine's yachts.

One of the boldest and biggest of this new class of yachts is the Maltese Falcon, a 288-foot clipper ship that Buckley, of The Yacht Report, calls "the most exciting yacht of the century."

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