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John S. DeCaro
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MARKET ANALYSIS: Why Explorer Yachts Have Weathered The Financial Storm
by Caroline White   BOAT INTERNATIONAL

The 73.6m expedition yacht Pegaso, the eighth biggest delivery last year
The 73.6m expedition yacht Pegaso, the eighth biggest delivery last year
The most interesting dichotomy to emerge from the market in recent months is that between the sales of fast boats and explorer yachts. While cruisers were proving hard to sell, explorer yachts have dropped relatively little in price and are still being built - although theirs will always be a niche market.

So what has made these tough boats as resistant to the turbulent market as they are to rough seas? To understand their appeal, we might begin by defining them. 'I coined the term explorer yacht about 23 years ago in the first advert for Inace yachts,' says John DeCaro, explorer yacht specialist, president of All Ocean Yachts and dealer for Brazilian builder Inace.

'The boats were generationally improved from commercial offshore vessels to begin with we used one as the basis for the first of the Inace explorer yachts.'

DNA from tugs and trawlers has shaped explorers' definition as tough boats with the ability to travel long distances.

Today we have a much more styled, refined vessel.
'The idea behind an explorer yacht is that it's an all-round ocean going vessel. The systems should be heavy duty and rugged, the hull rugged and the boat be easy to maintain,' says DeCaro. 'With Inace we started out with a style that was close to a commercial vessel, and today we have a much more styled, refined vessel that looks like a yacht, but still hopefully retains its heritage in terms of commercial engineering and abilities.'

Improvements in technology in general have also made explorers more convenient yachts to use, as DeCaro explains.

'Advances in satellite communications and electronics mean you can be away from the office for a long period,' he says. 'Downloading and communications used to be unreliable and very expensive on a yacht. Now costs have dropped, so someone could be in their explorer yacht and operate their business.'

Explorer yacht sales
Explorer yacht sales

Explorers have also benefitted from the vagaries of taste and fashion. Some people have always liked the masculine, utilitarian lines of a traditional explorer. But in recent years this has developed from an eccentricity into a mainstream taste.

'When I did the first explorer yachts, people looked at me and laughed: "You think people are going to want to pull into the yacht club with that?" Now it's the hot boat at the yacht club.'

This fashion has had an interesting side-effect. Whereas designers and yards spent years making explorers look more like stylish cruisers for example the 41 metre Yacht Explorer DeCaro developed with Inace some are now making cruisers that look like traditional explorers.

'I see boats for sale now that say "expedition yacht", "explorer yacht",' says DeCaro. 'But you look at specs for a 110-foot (33.5 metre) boat and it's got a 1,200 mile range. It should be a 6,000 mile range. It's got no refrigerators, no freezers, no storage. It's a day cruiser, with reverse windows and a name tag on it.'

These emulations are surely proof of the explorer's desirability, but the global economic crisis called all bets off.

'They've definitely weathered the storm well. Second-hand prices dropped much less and a lot really haven't changed noticeably in price. There were few explorer yachts on the market in general when the financial crisis started, and a lot came off the market because of the financial crisis,' says DeCaro. 'Recently an Inace Explorer sold for a substantial amount more than her build cost, something you are not seeing in big white yachts.'

'People who build explorer yachts don't do it on a whim. They have a mission profile.'

When the financial crisis hit, it was the perfect storm for explorers.
'When the financial crisis hit, it was the perfect storm (for explorers),' says DeCaro. 'People started caring about costs and the Med was busy. An explorer yacht has low operating costs, higher volume, easier upkeep and you go places other boats can't.'

The most interesting questions about the explorer's future may be to do with where they will be, rather than how many.

Import taxes and a young market mean Brazilians with big boats often keep them elsewhere. But DeCaro is overseeing four explorer builds in Brazil and has delivered a 24 metre to be kept there.

'Long range yachts are very relevant because there are limited facilities in Brazil, so yachts spend more time away from dock. And there's a huge coastline to explore. The idea of the explorer yacht out here is really growing quite rapidly,' says DeCaro.

It looks as if the explorer might just be tough enough to crack that notoriously hard nut Brazil.

by Caroline White

All Ocean Yachts
The Marine Building   San Diego Office
777 SE 20th Street, Suite 200   10550 Sunset Ridge Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA   San Diego, CA 92131 USA
Telephone: 954-671-0107   Telephone: 619-243-4635
info@buyexploreryachts.com   vincek@alloceanyachts.com

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