EUROPE may be a sinking ship, taking in water faster than politicians can bail it out, but here in Spain the market for real – rather than metaphoric – boats appears to be buoyant. Cancelled last year due to economic factors, the Boat Show is returning to Palma, Mallorca, next week running from May 1 until the 5.
Loyal readers of this column will note that this is not the first time I have covered the issue of boats, but I remain just a little intrigued and mystified at this apparently recession proof business.
Granted, I don’t expect there will be many offerings where you will get change for a quarter of a million, and most will be at prices warranting a team of accountants to add up all the noughts. After all, even the bar bill for many of these super yachts supersedes the annual salary of most board-level directors.
Still, dreaming is free – for pensioners and children under 12, the rest of us pay €5 – and there’s nothing like a day out, glass of cava in hand, deliberating the merits of walnut versus mahogany trimmings and chrome versus gold taps in the prestige bathrooms.
Much like shopping in Chanel, if you need to ask the price, you can’t afford it.
There are of course much more economical and less fancy options for setting sail, and the Mediterranean offers wonderful boating opportunities. Six million boats are kept in European waters; 1.75 million in berths at the 4,500 marinas, with the value of the European boat industry just shy of €20 billion.
Unless you have a water phobia or acute sea sickness, a day out on a private boat is undeniably wonderful and I am eternally grateful to boat-owning friends who, at times, invite us.
But in the end, you often end up hopping into little dinghies to take you to the chiringuito onshore, probably one that you could have reached in half the time and a fraction of the cost by car.
I know that is not the point, but I think you have to have a deep love of grown-up toys, an untamed zest for the open water and well-lined pockets to buy one for yourself.
If you can’t make up your mind which yacht to snap up in Palma, you have another chance at the International Boat Show in Barcelona in September.
So many boat shows, so little time. At least options are limited in colour; you don’t see many bright pink or yellow vessels, do you?
There seems to be rather modest tendencies when it comes to the Princess, whilst the same restraint is not always shown with the Porsche.
Personally, I would place a wager of a rouble or two that much of the target audience for the boat show comes from outside the bedraggled EU zone: I am reliably told that yachting crews are currently scrambling to learn Russian ahead of the summer season…
Perhaps with Captains Merkel, Rajoy and Ayrault struggling to steer Europe into safe waters, they could benefit from heeding some pertinent advice from savvy boaters on how to keep the economy on an even keel. That way, perhaps we can all trot along to next year’s boat show, with aspirations for more than just a fun day out.