Bright Lights, Big City

Island Gardens Marina in Miami

Bright Lights, Big City

Island Gardens Marina in Miami

Journeys

Bright Lights, Big City

Superyachts may bring to mind beaches and seclusion, but they are perfectly suited to urban life, too.

By Dominique Afacan | 7 March 2021

Close your eyes and picture a superyacht and it is likely entirely isolated, floating peacefully in pristine waters, perhaps with a tropical island creating the perfect backdrop in the distance. This vision is, of course, highly accurate, but it only tells half the story. For while yachts are often to be found in remote destinations, they are just as well-suited to urban life.

Thomas Milton, first officer on Gene Machine, has been to London twice on different yachts and found it to be a real hit with guests. ‘There’s a real wow factor that you’ve been to London in a superyacht,” he says. “Both times, we cruised up to Tower Bridge, which has opened for us, then we’ve done a 180 and come back.” As well as the novelty of having one of London’s most famous bridges open for you, the convenience of being moored up in one of the world’s most exciting cities should not be underestimated.

Bright Lights, Big City

Gene Machine in London

Bright Lights, Big City

Gene Machine in London

Superyachts up to 40m can park up at the recently renovated St Katherine’s Dock, in the heart of the capital’s hustle and bustle. “What could be more pleasant than relaxing on board, with the Shard and the Tower of London in sight and a huge choice for dining and shopping right on your doorstep?” says Paul Tetlow, the marina’s general manager. “London is a ‘24/365’ city but there are times when it’s even more special. Christmas has a distinct feel with many of the shopping and entertainment districts lit up in festive lights. We also see owners shaping their plans around local events, such as London Fashion Week and premiership football matches.”

It’s a similar story in Miami, where yachts often park up in Island Gardens Marina, conveniently located between Downtown Miami and South Beach. “If visitors are not sunbathing by their pool on their vessel, or jogging in South Beach in the sandy beach, they like going to visit the walls of Wynwood, shop in the Design District or to Bal Harbour,” says Gianluca Orlando, marina manager. “For music lovers, the American Airlines Arena is a state-of-the-art venue but there is also the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts – both are just a bridge away from our marina.”

Bright Lights, Big City

Islands Garden Marina in Miami

Bright Lights, Big City

Islands Garden Marina in Miami

Of course, Miami’s strategic location is also part of the appeal. “One of the things that makes Miami a great place to dock a superyacht is its vicinity to the most beautiful destinations in the world, such as the Bahamas and The Keys, which you can reach in just a few hours of sailing,” says Orlando.

In Sydney, yacht charter company Ocean Alliance reveals a similar pattern – yachts stop for a few nights in a bustling international city before setting sail to other destinations. “Depending on the time of year, yachts can head north to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, and extend around to the Kimberleys, or south to Melbourne and Tasmania,” says Joachim Howard, managing director. “Yachts can also depart directly to the gateway of the South Pacific with New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu in mind for a first stop.”

Bright Lights, Big City

Sydney, Australia

Bright Lights, Big City

Sydney, Australia

While in the city though, there is enough to justify a lengthy stay. “For charter guests, we tend to offer things like surf lessons at Bondi Beach, seaplanes to Pittwater for lunch at one of the region’s famous waterfront restaurants or helicopter rides to one of the local vineyards for wine tasting,” says Howard. “Guests can also climb the Harbour Bridge and take in the best view of Sydney, visit the zoo via tender or tour the pearl farms of the Hawkesbury River.”

Whatever floats your boat, being docked up in one of the world’s most famous harbours might suffice in itself. “The versatility of the harbour means that you can be at anchor with a backdrop of the Opera House or Harbour Bridge, or be in a secluded location amongst national parks and beautiful beaches,” says Howard.

Bright Lights, Big City

Whitsundays, Australia

Bright Lights, Big City

Whitsundays, Australia

Major cultural events are another big draw bringing yachts into cities, and despite a corona-led interlude during 2020, 2021 looks geared up to attract more movement across the world’s global hotspots. This month’s America’s Cup in Auckland is a prime example and later this year, the Tokyo Olympics, postponed to July, will see yachts docking at the new HamaHead Marina site in Yokohama.

So next time you close your eyes and think of superyachts, picture city skylines, urban energy and 24-hour excitement alongside your visuals of blissful isolation. After all, superyachts were made to enjoy the best of both worlds.

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