Bob Roscioli, owner and chief executive officer of Fort Lauderdale’s Roscioli Yachting Center, said yacht-owners mothballed their boats for a few years after the economy tanked in 2008. As the industry gained strength, yacht chartering and usage picked up, so the majority of business that now goes to the company is for service and repairs, he said. Sales of yachts up to 73 feet are sputtering on the market in general, Roscioli said. But yachts made by Roscioli International in the 80- to 92-foot range are gaining popularity, he said. A Donzi Yacht by Roscioli costs from $2 million to $7.5 million.
The market for these larger yachts is heating up on an international scale. Compared to 2010, the sale of yachts between 80 and 200 feet increased more than 30 percent in 2012, according to Boat International market reports. In the second quarter of 2013 alone, yacht lovers purchased nearly 100 of these big boats. That’s because the niche market for multi-million-dollar big boats never really left, even during the recession.
“The people who buy these vessels are the very wealthy who weren’t hurt by the economic downturn,” said Joel Rotta, a yacht broker with 30 years of experience in the South Florida market. “It’s the middle-class boater buying the $500,000 mid-size vessel who got hurt.”
Over the past two years, interest in the famed 80-foot Bertram sports fishing yacht has also gained momentum, said Alton Herndon, president of the 52-year-old company. After its 2012 move north from Miami to the once-vacant Sea Ray plant on Merritt Island, production is kicking up. Today, about 100 people work at the Merritt Island facility.
Unlike Roscioli and Broward, little activity at Bertram is going towards service. “The work that’s happening is going toward manufacturing current models and new product design and development,” Herndon said. A new model could be announced in the coming months. Meanwhile, the company continues to modify current designs by working with customers’ individual needs.
“We want to make more efficient use of space, and it’s all about compromise. Some customers want more cooler space, some want more space for tackle, some want more dry storage compartments,” Herndon said. He said that customers are wanting more beds below deck to accommodate family and friends.
In the past, Boating Magazine has praised Bertram for the interior layout of its models. “Its clever use of interior space changes what you’ve come to expect from boats in this class,” the staff wrote. “Never before has a boat this size featured such amenities.”
From $2.5 million to $7 million, Bertram is selling luxury and quality to serious — and seriously wealthy — sports fishermen who value wood-paneled cabins and generous kitchens as much as the tuna tower.
The combination of fishing functionality and comfort brought Miamian Jorge Benitez to Bertram.
“If all you want to do is fish with four or five people, get a Contender. If you want to go to the Bahamas for a week, you can use the Contender, but it will be a rough ride. You’d be taking more risk with less comfort,” he said.
In South Florida, there’s a boat for everyone.