x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Superyachts put on cargo ships to thwart pirates

Piracy fears are stopping superyacht owners from sailing between the Mediterranean and the Gulf.

Superyacht The Riviera at the dock for the Dubai International Boat Show.
Superyacht The Riviera at the dock for the Dubai International Boat Show.

DUBAI //Piracy fears are stopping superyacht owners from sailing between the Mediterranean and the Gulf, where they split their time each year.

Instead, they have them shipped on cargo vessels, says Erwin Bamps, the chief operating officer of the UAE boatbuilder Gulf Craft.

"This is an issue for superyachts visiting the region coming out of the Mediterranean," Mr Bamps said.

"They are now more or less shipped on another ship and brought into the Gulf, so the owner doesn't have to concern himself with the security of the vessel.

"It has a cost implication for the owner, because before he would sail in through the Red Sea."

Somali pirates have attacked hundreds of vessels in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea over the past 10 years.

But Mr Bamps said the threat had little impact on boat sales in the UAE, as most yacht owners here tended to keep their vessels in the Gulf or off the coast of Oman.

"Unless you go down to the Horn of Africa people are not so concerned," he said. "Most of the concern is for ocean-going vessels that are crossing between continents, rather than staying around the area here.

"A lot of people only use their yacht to go from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. They see it as a floating property, a floating palace. It's seen as an alternative to high-end dining."

Mr Bamps said the yachting culture in the Gulf was different from that in the Mediterranean. In Europe, owners tended to cruise along a coastline for two weeks at a time, whereas most yacht trips in the Gulf last less than a day.

He was speaking yesterday at the launch of the 20th Dubai International Boat Show, which takes place next week at the Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi.

One visitor will be able to sail off in their own boat courtesy of a raffle to mark the event's 20th anniversary.

"Al Shaali Marine has built a spectacular, fully equipped 22ft fishing boat with the latest cutting-edge technology specifically to mark this occasion," said Helal Saeed Almarri, the chief executive of the Dubai World Trade Centre, the organiser. "This Dh250,000 boat shall be given to one lucky visitor to the show."

Saeed Hareb, the senior adviser to the show, revealed Dubai boat enthusiasts will soon have a new place to tie up.

"Last year the first marina on the Palm Jumeirah opened on the east side and now, maybe next month, they will open the marina on the west side," Mr Hareb said.

A total of 430 boats will be on display at the show, ranging from small craft to superyachts, and more than 750 companies from 46 countries are taking part. The event runs from next Tuesday to Saturday and is admission costs Dh60 a person.

csimpson@thenational.ae