Money Talks

23 March 2010 By Claire Griffiths

Yachtie consumerism charts a bit like a Richter scale with levels of normal spending interspersed with sudden tremors of outrageous splurges.

Occasionally, when crew are young and new to the industry, the usual, low-level spending activity is jolted by four figure bills from vaguely remembered bars where innocent “Drinks are on me, mates” ratchets up enough debt to make the World Bank wince, not to mention the three figure taxi fare that takes them back to the boat to rest their tired eyes. The counter drops again while idled over a five-star holiday in Thailand, a Cartier watch or a fabulous pair of Christian Louboutin slingbacks.

The UK’s Office of National Statistics could, no doubt, pronounce exactly how many people from various swathes of Africa could be kitted out with modern day paraphernalia by delving into the lockers of the Med-based crew. If it’s small and glistens, it might not be gold, but it packs into your locker and makes you feel better – which is why you have a big stash of designer sunglasses, watches and iPhones, Pods and Pads.

While some indulge in technology and fashion, others prefer more interactive investments. Dave of M/Y Ocean Victory II says his biggest extravagance is his girlfriend (phew, brave man saying so). Bosun Karl of M/Y QM of London would be a mean sight richer if it weren’t for an itch to go snowboarding every weekend. Chef Rachel finds her biggest extravagance is the tickets she pays to go home.

Once the career kicks in and money clips bulge, lust looms large for the big and the beautiful. It almost always means something with wheels. Capt. Don of M/Y Asteria remembers his most expensive purchase after he’d been hired as mate on his first big boat. “I bought a new dark blue 3201 BMW that cost as much as my annual salary. It was very sporty at the time,” says Capt. Don. “Two months later, while on vacation in Seattle, a friend called and told me to turn on the news. The boat was teetering high and dry on a rock pinnacle in southeast Alaska, looking like it would topple over and sink at any minute. My first thought was, 'Oh my God, I just bought a new BMW and I’m unemployed.’” Fortunately, she re-floated on the high tide and made it to Ketchikan for repairs.

Eventually maturity (or middle-aged madness) sets in and you want to sink your savings into something more solid – ancient, gnarled and knotted, like a grapevine, perhaps? Capt. Joshua of a 25-metre Sunseeker is now a viticulturist with a vineyard. Sunrise Wines at Riverlea Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, is where he’s sowed the vines for potential future growth. He is yet to see if it bears any fruit.

Gnarled and knotty doesn’t do it for you? Go find a large and bottomless pit – more commonly referred to as “a charming XVII century house in need of care and attention” – and pour in your life savings. You’ll be glad you did in the end, because then you can open a crew house....