Andrew Sturner’s Vertical Yacht Club, a dry stack planned for Marina Mile in Fort Lauderdale, is designed for 46 yachts to 85 feet and weighing up to 180,000 pounds (www.verticalyachts.com). Sturner’s Hercules lift system uses a computer-guided overhead bridge crane and high-tech open-rack system to place each boat in its own private, enclosed temperature- and humidity-controlled pod or suite. Built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the facility also will provide owners a lounge, conference center, gym, spa, concierge and offices for captain and crew. “A high-tech approach to megayacht storage is long overdue,” Sturner says.
Aerospace engineer Richard Lydle, of Naples, Fla., is planning a 400-slip hurricane-resistant dry stack in Palm Beach Gardens for yachts to 65 feet and weighing 100,000 pounds. Lydle’s Aero-Dock system uses cushions of air to move boats, a technology he says already is used in industrial applications for heavy lifting. Both marinas are offering slips either for sale or for a boat owner’s exclusive use under a long-term club membership.
On the water
As our home waters become more congested and boating becomes pricier, some retirees may choose to migrate to overseas retirement communities, where they can find outstanding boating and fishing. “These are fairly wealthy people who are buying their second, third and fourth home down there,” says Kaye Pearson, chairman of the Chub Cay Club, a $250 million sportfishing getaway in the Bahamas (www.chubcay.com).
Sometimes several families go in together to buy a home on Chub Cay as part of a retirement plan to own two or three vacation properties — maybe one in the Caribbean, another in Colorado, a third in Europe. A townhouse or villa at Chub Cay costs from $1.5 million to $4.5 million. Condominium slips at the marina fetch $400,000 to $500,000.
Its location along the divide between the mouth of the deepwater Tongue of the Ocean and the Great Bahamas Bank gives anglers the chance to fish 2- and 3-foot-deep flats on one side and troll for blue marlin in 6,000 feet of water on the other. It’s a sport angler’s dream, yet most of the money going into Chub Cay is old money, Pearson says. Much of the baby boomer retirement money is going into timeshare units elsewhere in the Caribbean and Central America — Costa Rica and Panama, for instance — some of it at vacation resorts like the Ritz Carlton Club in the Abacos, he says.
“Water access is getting tough to find in the U.S.,” says Bruce Blomgren, president of Brandy Marine International of Sarasota, Fla., which is developing marinas at vacation and retirement resorts in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Panama. The cost of buying into these resorts is comparable to those in the United States, but the overseas waters are pristine and the fishing impressive. Back from a short vacation along Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, Blomgren says, “I’ve never fished any place that was more spectacular. It was like being in an aquarium.”
Blomgren believes that as Florida taxes and insurance trend up, retirees will be tempted to look farther south for their Shangri-La, to places that remind them of the “good old days” when America’s beaches and waters were uncrowded and undeveloped. Most of these overseas developments are “secure,” gated communities and offer a range of activities — boating, fishing, tennis, golf, hiking, kayaking. He cautions prospective buyers to vet locales for political stability, accessibility by air and nearby medical facilities.
“Panama is a bargain,” Blomgren says. Prices there are comparable to what they were 12 to 15 years ago in Costa Rica. “I’m taking my boat south,” he says.
But he advises retirees not to think small. “This could be a place for someone who can afford a place in Costa Rica but also one who wants to cruise America,” he says. Why not go cruising and retire to a getaway in Panama or Costa Rica?
How the retirement of America’s 76 million boomers will play out — and what kind of boating they will choose to do, what kinds of boats they will choose to own — remains to be seen. Pearson suspects that higher fuel prices, soaring taxes and insurance rates, and a faltering economy may be giving many boomers pause to consider downsizing their retirement — or deferring it.
Sabre’s Collins agrees. “I don’t think this baby-boomer retirement thing is about a specific time and date,” he says. “I think it’s going to stay in flux for the next 10 to 15 years.” It should be an interesting ride.