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Where Are the Balearics?

IYB1.Inc. image Buying boats in Europe is both fun and rewarding. However, it’s not easy to convince Americans to invest $500 on a round-trip airline ticket to the Mediterranean, even if it means saving a hundred thousand dollars or more. Let’s be honest, we have a hard-enough time to remember what is the capital of North Dakota, so when someone asks us to go inspect some yachts in the Balearic Islands....well, we don’t want to seem dumb, but...where the heck are the Balearics? Hint: it’s Europe’s equivalent to Florida, it has the second busiest airport in Europe (12 million passengers), it has palm trees (BIG HINT!), Michael Douglas and Claudia Schiffer have a house there, and a great bottle of wine costs only eight bucks in the restaurant. More important, for Americans on the Atlantic coast, it’s much closer by water than California (half the distance), and there are thousands of yachts there that are often 20-40% less expensive than Florida. Give up? The main island is called Mallorca and the capital is Palma.

Mallorca is the largest islands in the Balearics and lies less than 200 nautical miles east of northeastern Spain. There are direct flight connections from every major city in Europe, and car ferries also connect the island to Marseille, France and Barcelona, Spain. The climate, topography, and vegetation are very similar to Southern California’s. It never snows, except in the mountains, and when it rains it’s usually in the spring or because of summer thunder showers. For an island that is only 50 miles wide and 35 miles up and down, it has a diversity of terrain: plains, foothills, a mountain chain (highest peak 4740 feet), beaches, cliffs, lakes, wetlands, lagoons and last but not least, marinas. With car rentals at $25.00 a day, it’s an easy island to discover.

According to my calculations, there are 23 marinas in Mallorca and conservatively, probably three times as many yacht brokerage houses (since I find an average of three brokerage houses per marina). I’ve been told there are 20,000+ yachts in Mallorca, but the Irish broker who slurred that figure for my benefit at Hogan’s Pub was probably seeing double or counting dinghies as well as the soap dish in his bathtub. Nevertheless, there are a lot of boats, more than I’ve seen anywhere in a small location except South Florida. The point is that if you want to view boats, concentration is more important than total numbers, unless you have budgeted ten years to find your boat.

Mallorca is just one island in the Med. There are probably multiple hundreds of marinas that stretch from Gibraltar to the Bosporus (I won’t include the North African coast or the Middle East) and I honestly don’t have any idea how many yachts they hold. Every day I find more brokers, more marinas, and more yachts. Most sales in the Med are done directly and involve only one broker in comparison to the United States where most sales involve two brokers. One reason for that is because it’s impossible to find a common database that shows what boats are available. If a client asks me to find him a 22-meter Ferretti, I must check with 3 dozen shipyards (trade-ins) and several dozen databases and still, I’m not certain that I haven’t missed some.

But, that’s why the prices in the Med can be well below US market prices (or too high and never sell). The market is only organized locally with the exceptions of very large yachts that are monopolized by the big brokerage houses. However, vessels that are less than 80 feet require a concentrated effort and one needs an overall view of the market to find the exceptional buys. That’s our forte at IYB Yachts. I’m an American who grew up in Europe and I was fortunate to learn many European languages because the US military kept my poor parents hopping from country to country. This nomadic life style has finally paid off!



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