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BC couple sells properties and commits to sailing the world

COVID a major driver of increased yacht sales globally

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Mark and Daintry Walters are selling their properties, buying a yacht and sailing from the Balkans to the Caribbean over the next five years, with only themselves as crew.

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“We have this window of time to do this, so we are going for it,” says Mark.

Before the pandemic, Daintry and Mark always imagined spending their retirement cruising around the world by sea, but the pandemic brought a different reality as many cruise ship options were halted. Coupled with the fact that Mark has a unique skill set that would allow them to crew their own yacht, this seemed like a rational choice.

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Mark just retired in February from BC Coast Pilots and spent the last 31 years on the water as a marine pilot, so captaining his own vessel is very much within his breadth of knowledge, they explain.

“There is definitely a skillset [he has] that will allow us to have some options,” says Daintry. “We had thought about getting boats and doing various trips, but when we were thinking about the next five years, it was cruising the world. And then COVID happened and then it was about thinking, ‘Well if we can’t get on a cruise ship, how about doing it ourselves’? And that’s what sparked us about a year and a half ago to start looking.”

The Walters are part of a larger trend of those wanting to take to the seas in 2021 after more than a year stuck on land thanks to the global pandemic. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, sales of boats, marine products and services across the U.S. climbed to a 13-year record high in 2020 to US$47 billion, increasing 9 per cent from the prior year.

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Indeed, U.S. yacht broker Denison Yachting reported sales of more than 40 superyachts in the first quarter of 2021, which is the highest Q1 results the company has seen in years. In 2020, Dennison sold 83 superyachts, but 2021 is looking like it could be their best year in a decade.

For the couple, buying a yacht is not just a purchase, it is an investment. Their research has been extensive and they know what they want for the quality of life they want to live.

For the past 18 months, the Kamloops-based couple have spent hours on the internet, reading blogs, checking out yacht listings and seeing what’s out there for their budget and needs.

For instance, they are going with a catamaran-style yacht, which has its living space above the waterline. The other popular option is a monohull, but that would mean going below deck to access everything from the kitchen to the bedrooms.

“If we’re going to live on the water, we want to enjoy the view,” explains Daintry.

Covid made us think about how we wanted to spend our time and where we wanted to spend our time ... and this lets us do it all.

Daintry Walters

They compare the yachting world to the RV world in that many people start off with an average size and then grow their vehicle based on their needs and budget. Similarly, many in the yachting world do the same where they work their way up as the budget allows and their propensity for longer-haul trips increases.

But the couple plans on skipping over years of upgrading and going right to a 68-footer. Their desire to sail along global coastlines for years at a time meant they needed a floating house that could accommodate an oceanic crossing.

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“The boat that we’re looking at is in Croatia,” explains Mark, who adds that he and Daintry will be their own crew. They will, however, need to hire a crew for the Atlantic crossing, as they will not have the option to anchor. Crewmembers will take four-hour shifts 24-hours a day and it will take up to 12 days to complete the journey.

The plan is to start in Croatia and spend a year in the Adriatic, then work their way down the south of Italy. From there they will spend time on the Amalfi coast for up to a year, moving through the south of France, and up to Majorca in Spain. Then a stop in Lisbon, where the couple plans to spend the winter months. The following spring will be when they do their Atlantic crossing, which will see them end up in the Bahamas and they plan to work their way through the Carribean for the next couple of years.

But none of this is set in stone.

“We have a plan, but the thing we like having is the flexibility to change that plan if we wish,” says Mark. “If you own the boat then you can decide where you want to go and if things shift, which they probably will, especially with COVID [still present], we’re not tied to an area.”

The couple is committing to their new water home. They have sold their Florida property and are listing their 7,000-square-foot home for sale in Kamloops.

“Once that sells, we’re free to go wherever we want,” says Mark. They will have no real-estate ties to a specific place so if they want to spend more time in an area, or find a home on land that suits them, they can stay.

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While Mark has spent a good portion of his life on the water and has been aboard large yachts, this will be Daintry’s first time living on a boat of this size. But as a self-described “water baby” she is not anxious about the journey and believes the plan they have and the vessel they have chosen will make this an enjoyable adventure.

“We’ve spent more than a year fine-tuning this plan, so I’m just excited,” she adds.

The next step is to head to Croatia, once travel becomes safer, and check out the yacht. They will also be taking it out on a sea trial, meaning they would spend a couple of days sailing the yacht before making the purchase. If all goes well, there would be several months of refitting that would take place to make it their own and the plan is to start their journey next spring.

“Covid made us think about how we wanted to spend our time and where we wanted to spend our time,” says Daintry, “and this lets us do it all.”

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