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Superyacht sales soar thanks to pandemic and growing numbers of billionaires

Purchases of luxury vessels longer than 30m (98ft) increased by over 8% in the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2019, according to industry publication The Superyacht Group.

By Alexa Phillips, news reporter

Monday 8 November 2021 17:39, UK

Cannes, France - April 2019: The superyacht Yalla berthed in the Port Pierre Canto harbour in Cannes. It is owned by Naguib Sawiris.It was designed by Omega Architects

Sales of superyachts are soaring amid growing numbers of billionaires and the appeal of escaping crowds during the COVID pandemic.

Purchases of luxury vessels longer than 30m (98ft) increased by over 8% in the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2019, according to industry publication The Superyacht Group.

Brokers Fraser Yachts said 2021 sales are "significantly outperforming" those of the last 12 years.

Superyacht "Motor Yacht A", owned by Russian tycoon Andrey Melnichenko, is seen moored on the River Thames besides HMS Belfast (R) in London, Britain September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Superyacht prices start at $10m if bought secondhand and can be as high as $600m when new, industry figures show.

More than 200 new ones have set sail for the first time from January to September this year, an increase from 165 in the same period of 2019, The Superyacht Group said.

Another 330 orders have been placed.

"Some have seen that their ultra-rich friends who own yachts had a nice time during the pandemic, while they had to lock themselves at home," said Pepe Garcia, chairman of Spanish shipyards MB92, a superyacht refit firm.

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"I think this phenomenon is going to last for a few years."

Alberto Galassi, chief executive of Italian yacht builder Ferretti, said the pandemic "has taught us how fragile our life is".

The Eclipse superyacht, owned by Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, is seen at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Florida, U.S. November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

"Postponing is no longer an option for those who can afford it," he said.

Azimut Benetti, another Italian yacht builder, said US clients have been driving the demand, with a "real boom" starting last spring.

The 164-foot (50-meter) "Destination Fox Harb'r Too" is seen in this handout photo taken off the Nova Scotia coast in summer 2008. Recession has shaken nearly every corner of the U.S. economy but Trinity Yachts is still turning out custom-built luxury boats, thanks in part to a sagging U.S. dollar. Trinity, the largest U.S. mega-yacht builder, will deliver eight sumptuously outfitted boats this year from its shipyards in Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans.   To match feature LUXURY-YACHTS/TRINITY   REUTERS/Shaw McCutcheon/Handout   (CANADA SPORT YACHTING BUSINESS)

The number of people who can afford to buy the boats has increased, with Forbes reporting there are now 2,755 billionaires - up by 660 on the previous year.

Tycoons who own superyachts include Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and music producer David Geffen.

Capri, Italy - August 20, 2011: The Fincantieri mega yacht SERENE moored in a bay of the isle of Capri, Italy. The motoryacht Serene (134 mt) is the largest yacht ever built in Italy and one of the most largest yachts in the world.

Last May Mr Geffen was ridiculed after posting about being "isolated" on his yacht in a tropical paradise and hoping everyone else was "staying safe" during the pandemic.

"Did David Geffen just give everyone the middle finger?" one Instagram user said.

Mr Bezos's superyacht is estimated to have cost about $500m (£350m).


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An Inside Look at Jeff Bezos’ $500 Million Superyacht and What It Costs To Keep It Afloat

C liché but true, the second-richest man on the planet, according to Forbes , owns the tallest sailing yacht in the world . In fact, the 417-foot Koru is so big, it has its own 250-foot support vessel .

Priced at $500 million, the Koru hit the sea for the first time in 2023 and has since ferried Jeff Bezos and company around the globe. Complete with three massive 229-foot masts, it can reach a top speed under sail of 20 knots, according to the New York Post — which is approximately 23 miles per hour.

Made for a group, up to 18 guests can set sail on the yacht, allowing Bezos to bring family and friends on vacation with him. Here’s a look at the Koru’s extravagant features and how much it costs to operate his floating mansion.

Also take a look at Bezos’ mansion collection.

See More: Robert Kiyosaki: 7 Ways To Become Wealthy Beyond the 9-to-5

Read Next: 4 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

Key Features

As expected Bezos’ yacht is dripping with luxury. With a net worth of $203.8 billion — as of May 4, 2024, according to Forbes — he can afford to outfit the Koru with nothing but the best and he did just that.

The superyacht has three outdoor decks, with two containing swimming pools, according to the New York Post. It also features a cinema, several lounges and multiple business areas, according to Luxuo .

Highly personalized, the yacht is complete with a figurehead modeled after Bezos’ fiancée Lauren Sanchez. Even its masts are luxurious, as the Amazon founder chose in-boom furlers, which keep the canvases at the bottom of the mast above the deck, creating a pristine and spacious rope-free deck.

For You: Make Yourself Money Smart: 20 ChatGPT Prompts To Increase Your Wealth

Support Vessel

One of the most shocking features of the Koru is the fact that it requires its own support vessel. The $75 million Abeona features a helipad that Sanchez has been spotted using to park her personal helicopter, according to the New York Post.

Designed to carry extra gear, four jet skis, two fast launches and a dinghy were spotted on the Abeona during a 2023 trip to Mallorca, Spain, according to the New York Post. It’s also capable of lifting a small submarine, but Bezos isn’t believed to own one — at least not yet.

Additionally, the support ship has two extra staterooms, which can accommodate four guests. This could come in handy if Bezos wants to entertain a larger group than can fit on the Koru.

On-Board Crew

It probably isn’t a surprise that operating both the Koru and the Abeona is no small task. From staff to drive the boats and maintain them to caring for guests onboard, Bezos needs a small army at sea.

The Koru has a crew of up to 36 people, according to The New York Post. If you think that’s a lot, the Abeona requires up to 45 crew and support staff.

Annual Operating Costs

Purchasing the Koru and Abeona cost Bezos more than half a billion dollars, but his expenses didn’t end there. As you might imagine, the annual cost to maintain a superyacht and its own enormous supporting yacht is more than most people earn in a lifetime.

The Koru costs approximately $25 million in operating expenses per year, according to the Daily Mail . Much less, but still sky-high, Bezos spends around $5 to $10 million on annual maintenance costs for the Abeona, according to Super Yacht Fan ).

When their owners are on dry land, yachts have to find a parking space. However, even this doesn’t always come cheap for Bezos and the Koru.

In November 2023, the billionaire’s yacht arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but was too big to fit in the port with all the outer superyachts, according to the Daily Mail. Therefore, it had to be docked with cruise ships at Port Everglades, at a rate of $16,500 per week.

While one week of storage might be more than the average person can afford, picking up the tab for any number of weeks would clearly be no issue for Bezos. While his superyacht and the many expenses surrounding it are clearly astronomical, he’s still living well within his budget.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com : An Inside Look at Jeff Bezos’ $500 Million Superyacht and What It Costs To Keep It Afloat

Jeff Bezos Net Worth: $83.3 Billion

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg spend six figures a year maintaining their superyachts. Here's how.

  • Superyachts  are one of the most expensive assets money can buy.
  • The true cost of ownership is even more, adding up to millions a year.
  • Here's how much it costs to own a superyacht — and what that money is going toward.

Financial advisors are quick to warn prospective owners that a boat is nothing more than a hole in the water in which to throw money. When it comes to superyachts , you'd better have bags and bags of cash.

As one luxury agent told Business Insider at the Palm Beach International Boat Show: "Buying a boat, it's a huge purchase — and nobody needs a yacht."

A superyacht, generally over 30 meters long, is one of the most expensive assets money can buy, with the largest costing more than a lot of real estate or a private jet. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs each spent nine figures on their megayachts.

That doesn't include operating costs. Owners should expect to pay about 10% of a yacht's new-build price each year, experts told Business Insider. That's tens of millions of dollars annually for the most luxurious boats.

"It's a small-to-medium-sized business in its own right," said Jeffrey Beneville, a senior vice president at insurance company NFP, where he specializes in consulting clients about yachts.

Unlike many smaller boats, superyachts need staff, not just a captain. Some superyachts have space for dozens of crewmembers , including a chef, engineer, and masseuse for the guests onboard. Each gets an annual salary — the highest-ranking members earn six figures — and benefits. Eric Schmidt's yacht fits a crew of 28 for a ratio of about two crewmembers per guest.

Then there's fuel, dockage fees, routine maintenance, and insurance. The latter hinges on everything from the reputation of a yacht's shipyard to where an owner wants to take it (if a vessel is taking frequent trips to the South China Sea, for example, expect to pay a higher premium). If a superyacht has a support yacht — or a support superyacht, in Bezos ' case — expect to pay another 10% of that boat's price annually.

"The cost to maintain a yacht is so high that they just think that money's getting lit on fire," Matthew Fleissig, the CEO of wealth management firm Pathstone, told BI of his clients who choose to charter rather than own.

One of his firm's clients who does own has a 23-meter yacht valued at $5.2 million. The annual cost to staff, maintain, dock, and insure the boat is $346,297, according to documentation provided to BI. The lion's share is spent on marina fees ($95,970) and maintenance work ($88,408.) While not exactly a Sunfish, that boat is too small to count as a superyacht.

At 106 meters, the Amadea, owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch , definitely does. The $300 million yacht, which was seized in 2022 and is docked in San Diego, cost $922,000 a month to maintain, a court filing showed: $360,000 for crew salaries, $75,000 for fuel, $144,000 for insurance, $178,000 in dry-docking fees, and $165,000 for maintenance, waste removal, food for the crew, and miscellaneous expenses.

"And that's an inactive yacht that's in the water," NFP's Beneville said.

If it were operational and carrying guests, the costs would be about twice that, or between $20 million and $30 million a year, he added.

Of course, it makes more financial sense for the non-obsessives to charter, and many of Fleissig's clients do. And some owners choose to offer their yachts for charter — the most luxurious cost as much as $1 million a week — to offset the costs.

"If you charter the boat for 50 days a year, it's going to help a lot," Anders Kurtén, the CEO of brokerage firm Fraser Yachts, told BI.

Then again, the running costs don't matter as much at a certain point. "If you're worth $30 billion, it's nothing. And if you're worth $117 billion — and these are the guys we're talking about — they're in it as long as it's still enjoyable for them," Beneville said. "It's not a money thing."

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The Super Yacht Industry Book

  • The first textbook ever written about the Superyacht industry. The book focuses mainly on motor yachts of over 50 meters long.
  • In collaboration with 95 experts who design, build, buy, sell, equip, support, operate and manage the world’s largest yachts. They are sharing their experience and true gold nuggets of information that will give you years of competitive advantage to understanding the superyacht industry.
  • The state of the art reference for the yachting industry.

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"In this book Marcela has been able to bring together the knowledge and expertise of some of the leading names in the yacht business, and the outcome is a deeper insight into what I call “the business of yachting”. From the earliest elements of design and engineering through to new construction, sales and charter, yacht management and the legal elements of yachting. In this book, you will have an opportunity to learn about the superyacht industry, from the people who make the superyacht industry. The designers, builders, brokers and lawyers. Informative and insightful information that will be helpful to everyone from an aspiring yacht captain and manage through to an owner and prospective owner."

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I strongly believe that a book like this is generally missing for our industry so it will become the de-facto reference guide for owners, new professionals, for supporting training courses, and for refreshing the ecosystem knowledge of professional already performing in industry.

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The Superyacht Book Hardcover – 30 Sept. 2016

  • Print length 288 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher teneues Media GmbH & Co. KG
  • Publication date 30 Sept. 2016
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  • ISBN-10 3832734317
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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ teneues Media GmbH & Co. KG; 1st edition (30 Sept. 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
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  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 3832734317
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-3832734312
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 26.04 x 3.81 x 33.02 cm
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On board the world’s most travelled superyacht

“Humpbacks off the bow – all guests to the bridge,” a voice sang over the intercom at 7am on the first morning of our expedition. Blinking away sleep, I rushed onto the deck in my dressing gown and a brilliant-white glare filled my eyes through panoramic windows. Metres in front of our yacht, a pod of four humpback whales were feasting on krill, surrounded by giant icebergs, the Antarctic Peninsula looming on the horizon. Close encounters such as this would quickly become the norm during my week onboard Hanse Explorer, a purpose-built expedition yacht, which took us off the beaten cruise track in Antarctica.

Most visitors to the White Continent travel on board a cruise ship, but a lucky few explore on private superyachts . Hanse Explorer is one such vessel. Built in 2006 by German shipping magnate Peter Harren and now owned by a well-known explorer and philanthropist, the 48-metre yacht is the most travelled charter superyacht on the planet. 

In 2023 she clocked up a staggering 35,397 nautical miles, many of which were racked up during charters for the rich and famous (our maps below show exactly where it went last year). “The clients we get are very successful people – some of the most successful in the world in whatever they do,” Captain Andriy Bratash told me. Previous guests include leaders of industry, royalty and film stars.

Hanse Explorer sleeps just 12 guests and up to 20 crew and offers the comfort of a luxury hotel with the personalised service and flexibility of a private yacht. For guests, the exclusive experience begins before boarding. While cruise ships must spend two days crossing the treacherous Drake Passage to reach Antarctica, we took what’s been dubbed the “penguin plane”. The two-hour flight from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula has no set schedule and flies only if there’s a suitable weather window, landing on a short gravel runway; a hair-raising experience.

Superyacht vs cruise ship

Trips on board Hanse Explorer are managed by EYOS Expeditions, a pioneer of chartering in Antarctica. The voice that had woken me from my slumber the first morning belonged to eagle-eyed EYOS expedition leader Richard White, a younger David Attenborough type who first visited the region as a researcher in 1998. Together with Captain Bratash, White led a week-long journey that was dictated by the weather and wildlife rather than an itinerary. 

“We don’t try to go as far as fast as cruise ships, and we do it in a different style,” White said. “We have a lot more spontaneity in what we do because we have the ability to say, ‘there’s something cool over there, let’s go in that direction’. We try to go to places that are less trafficked, and we work hard on maintaining aspects of wilderness, which some of the other vessels have lost.”

The flexibility meant our zodiac trips and shore landings were frequent and often spontaneous – within 10 minutes of White spotting something interesting, we’d be kitted up and on the water. This is just one of the ways a private yacht experience surpasses that of a cruise ship . Antarctic regulations permit a maximum of 100 people on a landing point at one time, so ships carrying several hundred passengers must stop for a lengthy period to facilitate visits for all. With only 12 guests, we were able to travel freely and “stop and smell the whales’ breath”, as White liked to say.

What they don’t tell you on television

While sailing, we felt truly alone. In one week, I counted on one hand the number of other vessels we passed. We spent the week journeying up and down the Antarctic Peninsula and discovered things they don’t tell you about on television: the sheer stench of a penguin colony; the gunshot-esque cracks of mini avalanches. We watched adelie and gentoo penguins waddle up “penguin highways” to search for their chicks among colonies of thousands. We saw seals lazing on beaches and fighting with peers – “seals are solitary mammals”, warned one fellow explorer, who bore the scars of getting too close to one. 

We passed through the narrow Errera Channel at sunset with humpbacks off the bow and chased the sun to Wilhelmina Bay where we tried out ocean kayaking. Following the weather one day, we diverted from our original plan for a landing at picturesque Neko Harbour. “If you hear my tsunami warning, run up the hill,” White said as we hiked past a gentoo colony to a viewpoint. On one particularly memorable Zodiac trip, an inquisitive humpback dived underneath our vessel, turning to flash us her white belly as we bobbed in stunned silence.

Made for extremes

Hanse Explorer isn’t your usual private superyacht, most of which are built for the kinder climates of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. She’s purpose-built for traversing the most unforgiving climates and conditions. “We think of her as a small passenger ship because we’re solidly built from steel, we have ice class and we have commercial equipment that’s oversized for safety,” Captain Bratash said. The yacht’s strength was demonstrated when the captain deliberately steered into a small iceberg, cracking the ice.

What the yacht has in terms of resilience, she mirrors in comfort. It’s an intimate experience with just six guest rooms – three doubles, two twins and one master with a private terrace – which have all the comforts you’d expect. 

Communal areas offer large windows for watching the passing scenery. The main deck has a dining room, a terrace and a lounge where White gave daily debriefs and talks on topical issues such as climate change. The lower deck features a gym, a sauna with portholes and an equipment room where guests store outdoor kit, while the upper deck has an al-fresco lounge and a hot tub on the bow – a scenic spot for sundowners.

A polar plunge

Life onboard Hanse Explorer was relaxed and efficient. The crew moved like shadows – always present but rarely seen. Pop out for a breakfast and your room would be cleaned before your return; your fresh laundry folded neatly on the bed. Come back from an excursion and the sauna would be heated and freshly baked cakes and hot chocolate with Baileys would be waiting in the lounge. 

Meals were taken communally around a large dining table that was creatively decorated every day with themes ranging from Polynesia to pirates. Every day we enjoyed hearty buffet breakfasts, family-style lunches and four-course dinners.

The ambience was relaxed; within a day, guests were lounging in their thermals. “We provide the superyacht level of service, but we aim to create an atmosphere of home onboard, so guests are totally comfortable,” said Captain Bratash, from Ukraine, who’s been at the yacht’s helm since 2016. 

Between excursions, the enthusiastic crew organised experiences such as kayaking and the “polar plunge”. As a fair-weather swimmer, I was apprehensive about entering the freezing water in just a swimsuit but, spurred on by the cheers of my peers, I jumped. The shock was quickly replaced by an adrenaline rush so intense that I plunged again the next day.

On our final day, White took us to a remote bay and suggested we take a moment to reflect. The snow sparkled in the sun and icebergs bobbed in the shallows as penguins played on top of them. The only sounds were the call of a skua overhead and the chirp of a delighted chick reuniting with its parent, back from sea with a belly full of krill. I felt a deep connection with nature – and it clicked. Why do people travel across the globe and spend six-figure sums for this experience? Total freedom. As it turns out, this is something that money can buy – you just need a private yacht to get there.

How to do it

Charter trips on board Hanse Explorer are managed by EYOS Expeditions, which hosted Rachel Ingram. The yacht will spend the Northern Hemisphere summer in the Pacific before travelling to Papua New Guinea and then back to Antarctica. For more information or to book, contact EYOS Expeditions ( eyos-expeditions.com ; 001 801 390 7025) or contact  [email protected] . Prices start from $70,000 (£56,6000) per week for a book-by-cabin charter or from $245,000 (£197,600) plus 35 per cent expenses for a full private charter. Flights are extra.

Where the world’s most travelled superyachts went in 2023

Last year, BOATPro’s Global Fleet Tracker followed the journeys of almost 7,000 superyachts, with a cumulative 18.7 million nautical miles recorded between them. These were the four most travelled:

Hanse Explorer

This 48-metre superyacht began the year in Antarctica, before heading to the Caribbean via the Falkland Islands. The Northern Hemisphere summer was spent exploring Scandinavia and the Arctic, before the long journey back to the White Continent. 

Gene Chaser

Owned by DNA sequencing scientist Dr Jonathan Rothberg, Gene Chaser completed a full circumnavigation in 2023, with stops in the Galapagos, Tokyo, Bali, Rhodes and Madeira, among others. 

This 56-metre yacht, on the charter market, began the year in the Med, visited London, and then embarked on a meandering journey to its namesake country via Bergen, Copenhagen, Hamburg, the Suez Canal and Singapore. 

What could be better than a year spent exploring the Pacific? That – along with a traverse of the Northwest Passage – was the main focal point for Tecla, a sailing ketch built in 1915, refitted in 1989, and currently in private hands. 

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'Off the beaten cruise track': the Hanse Explorer in Antarctica - EYOS/mosaicstudios.io

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After Living Much of Life at Sea, Captain Sandy Finds Love on Land

Sandy Yawn of “Below Deck Mediterranean” married Leah Shafer on — what else? — a superyacht in Florida.

Ms. Yawn, in a white suit, sits on the couch of a yacht with crossed legs. She has her arms around Ms. Shafer, who is wearing a white gown. They are looking at each other and smiling.

By Tammy LaGorce

Sandra Dolores Yawn has been locked up, left for dead on a Florida highway and chased through the Red Sea by pirates.

In the summer of 2018, Leah Rae Shafer reached out on Facebook to send Ms. Yawn her blessings. Not because she thought Ms. Yawn, who goes by Captain Sandy, needed her well wishes, but because she had started watching “Below Deck Mediterranean” on Bravo.

The show follows a crew tasked with catering to a revolving cadre of guests who have chartered a superyacht. Ms. Yawn, a star of the series, is at the helm. Ms. Shafer had written to congratulate her on the show’s success. There was another reason, too. “I thought she was hot,” she said.

Ms. Yawn, 59, has been a yacht captain for more than 30 years. Her foray into television, which started in 2017, was not exactly foreordained. Until her mid-20s, “I was a mess,” Ms. Yawn said. “I was always in trouble. I got kicked out of 11th grade. I didn’t go to college.” At 13, at the start of an adolescence spent between Dundee, Fla., where her father lived, and Bradenton, Fla., where her mother lived, she started drinking. By 17, “I was getting arrested so many times I couldn’t even count how many,” she said. Usually a parent bailed her out. Her father’s refusal to do so after one drunken incident landed her a night in jail.

In 1989, when she was 25, the revolving door of South Florida treatment centers she had been pushing through quit spinning when a counselor told her she couldn’t return. “She said, ‘Sandy, as soon as you get some money in your pocket you’re going to start drinking again,’” Ms. Yawn said.

Fearing real jail time, she joined Alcoholics Anonymous. To start paying off the thousands of dollars she owed in legal fees and addiction treatment center bills, she got a job washing boats in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. By 30, she had earned her captain’s license from Maritime Professional Training, a school in Fort Lauderdale for mariners and yachting professionals.

Rehab — she still has an A.A. sponsor and attends meetings whenever possible — helped her pin down the roots of her teenage rebellion. “I think a big part of my drinking was that I couldn’t accept my sexuality,” she said. “When I got sober is when I accepted that, oh my gosh, I actually prefer women.”

For Ms. Shafer, that level of acceptance took much longer. It also cost her a career as a gospel singer.

Ms. Shafer, 50, is the entrepreneur behind a skin care line, Skin by Leah, and a jewelry business started with a friend, Cuff Me. When she messaged Ms. Yawn to congratulate her on the success of “Below Deck Mediterranean” in 2018, she and her husband of 20 years, then living with their teenage daughter in Denver, were going through a divorce. The relationship had gone stale years earlier, Ms. Shafer said, but fear and uncertainty prevented her from leaving.

“I had the security of not worrying financially, because he took care of everything,” she said. Her gospel career at a nondenominational church had taken off when she was still in high school in Hesperia, Calif. But that was mostly a labor of love.

“I toured and went to college at the same time,” said Ms. Shafer, who graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.

By her 30s, she was recording albums, touring megachurches and singing at major Christian conferences. A flirtation with secular performance in the 2000s landed her on the 2003-04 revival of “Star Search” and later a recurring role on NBC’s “The Singing Bee.”

But “I loved God and I loved inspiring people, and the platform I was given was on the stage of churches,” she said. The only problem: “There was really no money in that.”

Before their divorce was final in 2019, she and her husband tried therapy and prayed together. Finally, in 2018, “I just jumped,” she said. “I took a leap of faith. I wanted freedom.”

She found it financially first. Skin by Leah Studio, her Lone Tree, Colo. facial salon that she founded in 2017, was successful right away, she said. When she first saw Ms. Yawn on TV, she was settling into life as an entrepreneur. She didn’t expect to get a response to her Facebook message. But when she got one three months later, in October 2018, it came with an invitation.

In addition to her job as a TV star, Ms. Yawn had started touring with “I Believe,” a series of motivational talks she created to inspire women in leadership positions. When she finally read Ms. Shafer’s message — thousands had been piling up, she said, but something drew her to Ms. Shafer’s — she was in the market for an entertainer for the talks.

In her message, Ms. Shafer had included a video of herself singing the national anthem at a 2014 Denver Broncos game. Once Ms. Yawn clicked the link, she replied right away. “She gave me her phone number and said, ‘I heard you sing,’” Ms. Shafer said. “‘Let’s meet up and talk about how we can do something together.’”

The two continued to talk on the phone and over email. Ms. Yawn was then living in Los Angeles. Ms. Shafer had been planning a Disneyland vacation with her daughter, Lauren, in November, a trip that gave her an excuse to meet Ms. Yawn in person.

Both say they fell in love seconds after Ms. Shafer pulled into Ms. Yawn’s driveway in mid-November 2018. “I offered to park her car for her, and that’s when we hugged,” Ms. Yawn said. “I felt this energy I had never felt. I knew I had to pay attention to that.”

It was a life-changing hug for Ms. Shafer, too. “It was not a normal feeling when I met Sandy,” she said. “She wasn’t the stern captain you see on TV. She was just so fun and so beautiful. That hug melted me.”

Over dinner at Catch, a Los Angeles seafood restaurant, they acknowledged their attraction. “I was really honest with her,” Ms. Yawn said. But Ms. Shafer wasn’t ready to date a woman. “I knew I wanted to be with her,” she said. “I was just freaked out.”

By the end of the evening, Ms. Yawn told her she should take her time. It had been two years since Ms. Yawn’s last relationship. “So at that point I was like, ‘Why rush it?’” she said. “I was older and I’ve learned a lot of lessons. One was, let things happen naturally. Slow and steady wins the race.”

Six months later, the race was over. The women were in a committed relationship, and Ms. Yawn had moved to a place near Ms. Shafer’s in Denver. It was smooth sailing until the end of 2019, when news of the couple’s relationship started circulating in entertainment media.

The public outing ended Ms. Shafer’s gospel career. “I knew the minute I came out as being in love with a woman it would be over, and it was,” she said. Her six CDs, sold in dozens of church bookstores, were pulled from shelves and shipped to her doorstep. Christian radio stations stopped playing her music.

“I had worked for 35 years,” she said. “And it was over.”

Most painful of all were comments after her father’s death from Covid in 2020. “People in the church told me he died because of my sins,” she said. “But he had met and come to accept Sandy before he passed, and I thank God that happened.” Now, “my family adores Sandy.”

Ms. Yawn lost both her parents to heart attacks before she became a TV star — her father in 2006, and her mother in 2009. In 2015, she was en route to the Miami Boat Show on her motorcycle when she was hit by a car. The driver left the scene. “I felt my mother’s presence while I was flipping through the air, and I felt peaceful,” she said.

When she hit the pavement, she had a fractured pelvis and her foot “was on sideways,” she said. By then, though, she was used to navigating life and death scenarios, including fires at sea and run-ins with pirates. She credits her fortitude and empathy, qualities highlighted on “Below Deck Mediterranean,” which she joined in 2017, to her sobriety. “I’ve got nothing to hide and everything to share,” she said.

In 2022, Ms. Yawn and Ms. Shafer bought a house together in Parker, Colo. In September 2023, while Ms. Yawn was filming in Greece, Ms. Shafer flew overseas to visit. Ms. Yawn proposed with a diamond engagement ring on the beach , with violin players in the background.

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here .

On May 11, Ms. Shafer and Ms. Yawn were married in Fort Lauderdale aboard She’s a 10 Too, a superyacht lent to the couple by their friend Carolyn Aronson. Fifty-five guests, the maximum allowed aboard the vessel, were in attendance. Among them were “Below Deck Mediterranean” castmates Aesha Scott, Kate Chastain and Dave White, known to viewers as Chef Dave. (And yes, there were cameras filming.)

Ms. Shafer, in a long white wedding gown by Leah Da Gloria, walked down the aisle with her two brothers, Matthew Dale and Justin Dale, to an altar decorated with white roses and hydrangeas; her daughter, now 18, was her maid of honor.

Ms. Yawn, in a white Veronica Beard suit, was escorted down the aisle by Mark Dunham, her brother-in-law. Michelle Dunham, Ms. Yawn’s sister, was her maid of honor. Most guests were barefoot, as is common on yachts. The brides and their wedding party were granted an exception.

Nadine Rajabi, the showrunner of “Below Deck Mediterranean,” who is ordained by the Universal Life Church, married them on the yacht’s bridge aft deck, a job made more difficult by the weather: wind caused her microphone to cut out and blew the pages of her speech around. But nothing could disturb the focus of the brides as they read handwritten vows.

Ms. Shafer told Ms. Yawn that she had taught her to be more optimistic, more playful and “to jump.” Ms. Yawn told Ms. Shafer that she had given her patience and grace.

The captain had been hoping to make it through the ceremony free of tears. But that, she said shortly after they were pronounced married, was impossible. “The minute I looked at Leah and started reading her all the reasons I fell in love with her I started to cry,” she said. “It’s so amazing to find this kind of love in your lifetime.”

On This Day

When May 11, 2024

Where Aboard the superyacht She’s a 10 Too, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Rescue Mission The couple chose “She’s a Lady” for their first dance during an onboard reception. Chef Dave prepared short ribs and a three-tiered, gluten-free vanilla, chocolate and strawberry cake that threatened to topple in the wind and heat (temperatures were in the 90s).

Cruising After the wedding, the brides took off for a five-day honeymoon to Little Palm Island on a yacht lent by Mr. Flynn. Ms. Yawn was at the helm, of course.

Onward In June, Ms. Yawn and Ms. Shafer will move from Denver to Ponte Vedra, Fla., to be closer to Ms. Dunham, who runs a private school for children with autism, Jacksonville School for Autism, in Jacksonville. On June 3, season nine of “Below Deck Mediterranean” premieres on Bravo. And on July 1, Ms. Shafer will open a skin care studio in Ponte Vedra.

An earlier version of this article misidentified   the man who escorted Sandy Yawn down the aisle. It was Mark Dunham, her brother-in-law, not her friend John Flynn. An earlier version of a picture caption also misidentified Mr. Dunham as Mr. Flynn. Additionally, the article misstated   the shoe rule aboard   the superyacht on which the wedding was held. The brides and their wedding party were allowed to wear shoes; other guests were not.

How we handle corrections

Weddings Trends and Ideas

Keeping Friendships Intact: The soon-to-be-married couple and their closest friends might experience stress and even tension leading up to their nuptials. Here’s how to avoid a friendship breakup .

‘Edible Haute Couture’: Bastien Blanc-Tailleur, a luxury cake designer based in Paris, creates opulent confections for high-profile clients , including European royalty and American socialites.

Reinventing a Mexican Tradition: Mariachi, a soundtrack for celebration in Mexico, offers a way for couples to honor their heritage  at their weddings.

Something Thrifted: Focused on recycled clothing , some brides are finding their wedding attire on vintage sites and at resale stores.

Brand Your Love Story: Some couples are going above and beyond to personalize their weddings, with bespoke party favors and custom experiences for guests .

Going to Great Lengths : Mega wedding cakes are momentous for reasons beyond their size — they are part of an emerging trend of extremely long cakes .

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NRA kicks off annual meeting as board considers successor to longtime leader Wayne LaPierre

FILE - National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre speaks during the Leadership Forum at the NRA-ILA Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center Friday, May 27, 2022, in Houston. The National Rifle Association is kicking off its annual meeting Friday, May 17, 2024, in downtown Dallas, gathering for the first time in decades without Wayne LaPierre at the helm, as board members prepare to elect his replacement. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, file)

FILE - National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre speaks during the Leadership Forum at the NRA-ILA Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center Friday, May 27, 2022, in Houston. The National Rifle Association is kicking off its annual meeting Friday, May 17, 2024, in downtown Dallas, gathering for the first time in decades without Wayne LaPierre at the helm, as board members prepare to elect his replacement. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, file)

FILE - Former President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd before speaking during the National Rifle Association Convention, Friday, April 14, 2023, in Indianapolis. The National Rifle Association is kicking off its annual meeting Friday, May 17, 2024, in downtown Dallas, gathering for the first time in decades without Wayne LaPierre at the helm, as board members prepare to elect his replacement. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, file)

FILE - An NRA sign is seen outside the track of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, Friday April 12, 2013. The National Rifle Association is kicking off its annual meeting Friday, May 17, 2024, in downtown Dallas, gathering for the first time in decades without Wayne LaPierre at the helm, as board members prepare to elect his replacement. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp, file)

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DALLAS (AP) — The National Rifle Association is kicking off its annual meeting Friday in downtown Dallas, gathering for the first time in decades without Wayne LaPierre at the helm as board members prepare to elect his replacement.

Though beset by financial troubles and following a trial in which a jury found LaPierre misspent millions of the NRA’s money , the group remains a political force. Upwards of 70,000 people are expected at the three-day event with a scheduled speech by former President Donald Trump, seminars, receptions and acres of guns and gear.

A board of directors meeting on Monday is expected to include elections of LaPierre’s replacement and other officers.

“The immediate question is: Who leads the organization and what direction do they go in the post-Wayne LaPierre NRA?” asked Robert Spitzer, a professor emeritus at the State University of New York-Cortland who has written several books on gun policies.

“They have suffered a series of blows, mostly caused by their own corruption,” Spitzer said.

Trump is set to address members Saturday. At the organization’s Great American Outdoor Show earlier this year, he told those gathered that if he is reelected, “no one will lay a finger on your firearms.”

FILE - The Detroit skyline is seen, May 12, 2020, in Detroit. The city of Detroit — which has seen an exodus of tens of thousands of people — since the 1950s — has grown in population for the first in more than six decades, according to U.S. Census estimates. Data released Thursday, May 16, 2024, show Detroit's population rose by 1,852 people from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)


A New York jury in February found LaPierre wrongly used millions of dollars of the organization’s money to pay for an extravagant lifestyle that included exotic getaways and trips on private planes and superyachts. LaPierre resigned as executive vice president and chief executive officer on the eve of the trial.

The jury said LaPierre must repay almost $4.4 million to the NRA, while the organization’s retired finance chief, Wilson Phillips, owed $2 million. The NRA failed to properly manage its assets, omitted or misrepresented information in its tax filings and violated whistleblower protections under New York law, jurors found.

After reporting a $36 million deficit in 2018 fueled largely by misspending, the NRA cut back on longstanding programs that had been core to its mission, including training and education, recreational shooting and law enforcement initiatives.

The NRA filed for bankruptcy in 2021, but a judge dismissed the case , ruling it was not filed in good faith.


LaPierre had led the NRA’s day-to-day operations since 1991, acting as its face and becoming one of the country’s most influential figures in shaping gun policy. A fiery proponent of gun rights, he once warned of “jack-booted government thugs” seizing guns and condemned gun-control advocates as “opportunists” who “exploit tragedy for gain.”

Andrew Arulanandam, a top NRA lieutenant who served as LaPierre’s spokesperson, has taken on his leadership roles on an interim basis.

Phillip Journey, a newly reelected member of NRA’s board, said he is among those trying to elect new leadership with hopes that the organization will become more transparent.

“I want to reestablish the trust that the membership has lost in the current leadership and I think that we need to make the board understand that they can speak their mind and not be punished,” said Journey, a Kansas judge, adding that the organization is “at a great crossroads.”


As the NRA meeting opens in Dallas, it has been a year since a neo-Nazi opened fire at a mall in the Dallas suburb of Allen , killing eight people before a police officer ended the rampage .

The organization’s annual meeting last year in Indianapolis fell on the second anniversary of the mass shooting at a FedEx facility in the same city that left nine people dead, only days after mass shootings at a school in Nashville, Tennessee , and a bank in Louisville, Kentucky .

At the 2023 meeting, top Republican hopefuls for the 2024 presidential race vowed to defend the Second Amendment at all costs.

In 2022, the NRA held its annual meeting in Texas just days after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde . Those taking the stage that year in Houston denounced the massacre while insisting further restrictions on access to firearms were not the answer.

One week after a gunman killed 26 people, mostly children, in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut , LaPierre gave a defiant speech saying more gun laws weren’t the answer and called for armed guards at schools. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said.

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Global order book: Over 1,000 superyacht projects on order in 2022

Despite some initial wobbles in 2020 when Covid-19 first struck, the superyacht industry has largely shrugged off the pandemic to record a third year of consistent order book growth. The 2022 Global Order Book records an impressive 1,024 projects in build or on order, a rise of 24.7 per cent on last year’s 821.

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The Book Behind ‘It Ends With Us’ Is 50% Off Right Now to Celebrate Release of Film Adaptation Trailer

Colleen Hoover's bestselling novel has returned to number one on the charts following the Blake Lively film trailer's release

By Tim Chan

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it starts with us

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The highly-anticipated trailer to “ It Ends With Us ” dropped Thursday , giving viewers a first look at the film adaptation of Colleen Hoover ‘s bestselling book of the same name.

Starring Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni, “It Ends With Us” tells the story of Lily Bloom (played by Lively in the film), and follows her loving yet tumultuous relationship with husband Ryle Kincaid (Baldoni).

It Ends with Us: A Novel

While Lily and Ryle’s relationship is explored throughout the book, “It Ends With Us” also introduces the character of Atlas Corrigan (played in the movie by Brandon Sklenar), who is said to be Lily’s first love. When Atlas discovers that Lily may be caught up in a cycle of abuse, he rushes to her aid — only for both of them to be confronted by a jealous Ryle.

Popular on Variety

“As questions about [Lily’s] new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan—her first love and a link to the past she left behind,” reads the publisher notes. “He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.”

You can read “It Ends With Us” online by purchasing the book on Amazon.com and Target.com . You can also listen to the “It Ends With Us” audiobook online for free right now with this free trial to Audible . The audiobook has a runtime of just over 11 hours and is narrated by Olivia Song.

It Starts with Us: A Novel

Following the success of “It Ends With Us” (which reportedly sold more than a million copies worldwide), a sequel to the book was released in October 2022. Titled “It Starts With Us,” that book is currently also on sale on Amazon and at Target .

As for the movie version of “It Ends With Us,” the Lively-starring vehicle hits theaters on Aug. 9.

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Superyacht Captain: Life and leadership in the world's most incredible industry Kindle Edition

  • Print length 238 pages
  • Sticky notes On Kindle Scribe
  • Publisher Adlard Coles
  • Publication date April 14, 2022
  • File size 2371 KB
  • Page Flip Enabled
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  • Enhanced typesetting Enabled

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About the author.

Brendan O'Shannassay grew up in Fremantle, Australia, and gained his degree and officer education with the Royal Australian Navy. In 2001 he joined his first superyacht as a deck hand, and worked his way up through the ranks to gain his first captaincy in 2006. His yacht racing career has also seen him participate in multiple Sydney Hobarts and the Fastnet Race, amongst others, Brendan is a Board Member of the International Superyacht Society, Chairman of the Captain's Committee, and has helped to establish superyachtcrewhelp.org – a charity working to support the mental health of yacht crews. Superyacht Captain is his first book.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FGNYH1W
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Adlard Coles; 1st edition (April 14, 2022)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ April 14, 2022
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2371 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 238 pages
  • #165 in Boating (Kindle Store)
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  • #548 in Boating (Books)

Brendan o’shannassy.

I was a shy, bookish boy in a small Western Australian coastal town. By age 11 I was a little overweight, and the last to be picked for any team sports. Fortunately, a growth spurt during my 12th year helped me climb the sports social ranking, but I always carried the shadow of those days when I was a little on the outside and not quite expecting to be chosen.

I would never have thought that I would one day as the Captain of some of the World's Greatest Yachts I would be at ease with the wealthiest people on the planet and I would feel more at home in Monaco, Geneva, St Barths, Moscow and London than I did returning to my home town.

This is a captain’s story, my story, where I look back on the physical, emotional and professional challenges that I have faced working in support of the most exclusive client group in the world and their relentless demands. It also charts a journey into the ‘heart of brightness’ that is the superyacht environment. It took me 15 years to earn the title of Captain and I walk through the narrow lanes, the dead ends and the bumpy distractions to that place.

The world of superyachts is far removed from most of the planet’s ‘normal’. It is a world where boundaries blur and the everyday rules of life seem to disappear. A world where lessons and insights are not read about and studied, but lived in an environment of constant pressure, where the consequences of actions result in immediate success or failure. This high stakes, no-safety-net workplace provided me with rolling insights that transfer directly for anyone looking for that edge to be their best version of themselves. My lessons are not hypothetical, gathered from postgraduate studies and delivered in a TED talk; I lived through the glory (but mostly the pain) of the constant scrutiny and expectations of billionaire superyacht owners.

A superyacht is also a study in globalisation. Yacht captains do not speak of diversity as a slogan or a company goal: we live it. The crews are multinational and multilingual and disperse around the globe when not on board. The same is true of the owners. It is common for a conversation to cross multiple languages and for all parties to be speaking in their second or third languages. Many businesses operate globally – this is nothing unique – but not many businesses move their office every few weeks to a new country, a different language, a new climate, a different legal system, and are expected to be experts on arrival.

This is the expectation placed on a yacht and its captain. Whether it be Monaco, Miami, Palau or Papeete, there is an assumption that the captain will have the intimacy of a local by the time their feet are on the dock. They may have ducked an Atlantic hurricane (or two) during the office relocation, but this is not even considered.

The business must be open on arrival. Yes, there are leadership lessons for all from this environment.

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‘Nothing Compares’ Director Kathryn Ferguson Sets Humphrey Bogart Feature Doc at Universal Pictures Content Group (EXCLUSIVE)

By K.J. Yossman

K.J. Yossman

  • ‘Nothing Compares’ Director Kathryn Ferguson Sets Humphrey Bogart Feature Doc at Universal Pictures Content Group (EXCLUSIVE) 14 hours ago
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Humphrey Bogart

“ Nothing Compares ” director Kathryn Ferguson has set her new feature, a documentary about Hollywood icon Humphrey Bogart, at Universal Pictures Content Group .

Titled “Bogart: Life Comes in Flashes,” it is the first documentary about the star endorsed by his estate.

Popular on Variety

Ferguson is also a BAFTA Breakthrough participant.

“Our approach when examining Bogart’s story began with looking at the key women in his life, the women who had been instrumental in his success and who all, bar his fourth wife, Lauren Bacall, had been left as footnotes in history,” said Ferguson. “Their shared stories lead us through seismic cultural shifts, with censorship forming a central thread. I hope ‘Bogart: Life Comes in Flashes’ becomes a fresh look at one of Hollywood’s most revered actors, and most of all, an honest, nuanced account of a complex man.”

“Bogart: Life Comes in Flashes” is directed by Ferguson, produced by Emptage and edited by Mahon. George Chignell of Dog Star Films (“Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed”) and Universal Pictures Content Group EVP Helen Parker (“Rebel Nun”) are executive producers.

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