If it weren’t for Dockwise Yacht Transport (DYT), Mary and Larry Mason of Sacramento, Calif., would not be half as worldly as they are today. The husband and wife have been married for 38 years and run their own power yacht. It’s a Nordhavn 57’ named No Plans that they call a “second home” even though their live-aboard status is typically valid nine months out of the year.
“Imagine having your boat at St. Marks Square, Venice, and then cruising the Croatian coast and having over 1,000 islands to explore,” said Larry Mason, who typically fills the role of “captain.” He credits Dockwise boat transport with always getting their vessel to their location of choice with ease. Mason’s wife, who is equally adept at handling the boat, proudly accepts the role of “first mate” and is as comfortable in the engine room as the galley – an expansive area that claims a Sub-Zero freezer, a Miele dishwasher, and a potted herb garden among its cruising-serious amenities.
“We navigated through the Montenegro Fjord to the Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic Sea, transited the Corinth Canal and Straits of Messina, and then cruised the French and Italian Rivieras before entering the Grand Harbour at Valletta, Malta. Dockwise made our dream of exploring the Mediterranean a reality when they first delivered our yacht from Martinique to France in 2006,” said Mason, citing DYT’s yacht transport as both wondrous and practical.
Dockwise has a total of four yacht carriers including the 686-foot (209 meter) super ship Yacht Express. They use the float on/float off loading method that allows yachts of any size to be safely floated on and off as cargo. The carriers submerge themselves by pumping nine million gallons of water into their ballast tanks; the vessels are floated into place one-by-one; and then finally they are sea-fastened before the ship pumps dry to prepare for boat transport. The process is reversed to allow the yachts to safely disembark once they reach their final destinations.
“Most yacht owners are well aware of the risks and expenses involved in sailing or powering across the ocean,” explained DYT’s President, Clemens van der Werf. “DYT provides fixed route yacht shipping services so owners can enjoy the benefits of Caribbean or Mediterranean cruising without having to actually sail there themselves.”
For the Masons—who were brand new to power boating when they bought No Plans in 2005—crossing the Atlantic on their own wouldn’t have been an option in the first place.
“The only experience Larry had was from 40 years ago when he owned a 10-foot catamaran sailboat for all of two years,” said Mary last summer in Newport, R.I., aboard the DYT carrier Yacht Express. With No Plans fully floating in the ship’s dock bay and soon due for departure under its own power, her husband was conducting a routine systems check in the wheelhouse before starting the engines as focused as any commercial airline pilot during pre-flight. At any sign of a possible problem, Mary leaped like a cat to make an adjustment somewhere, sometimes disappearing into the bowels of the vessel but always re-appearing with a smile and an all-clear message.
This had been the return trans-oceanic boat transport trip for No Plans, and the Masons were now proud veterans of four cruising seasons (generally February through October) in the Mediterranean. With this adventure over, however, it wasn’t too soon to begin planning for their next. Currently, the Masons are in Papagayo, Costa Rica, having delivered No Plans on its own bottom with two experienced friends last February. The voyage, which started in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., took them to Mexico, then Belize and Roatan (off the coast of Honduras) and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia (Colombia). No Plans then continued through the Panama Canal before heading north in the Pacific Ocean to stop in Costa Rica.
“We arrived in Costa Rica a week ago and were sad to learn we had just missed the Dockwise going north,” said Mary Mason, recognizing a new sort of irony in the name written so matter-of-factly on their boat’s transom. “We would have loved to have loaded and shipped No Plans to Vancouver. We needed a break after the long transit, tough weather and shallow waters.”
But not ones to stress, the Masons simply adjusted their schedule for a longer stay in Costa Rica and plan to take the trip north by using one of the Dockwise yacht carriers in November. “We have used Dockwise yacht delivery services for two Atlantic crossings,” said Larry Mason, pointing out that Dockwise takes care of customs paperwork and includes insurance for each of its voyages, “and we will work with them to get No Plans to the next great cruising ground of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Another dream to become reality!”
According to DYT’s Van der Werf, everyone has a different reason for relying on Dockwise. “Whether it’s a couple like the Masons fortunate enough to be exploring the world as they are, a boat captain needing to get to the Med to meet a charter schedule, or a big-game fisherman seeking hallowed ground for catching giant blue marlin, one of the beauties of owning a boat is that you can transport it anywhere you want.”
DYT's global yacht transport routes for its semi-submersibles include the U.S. East Coast (Newport, Rhode Island and Port Everglades, Florida), the Mediterranean (Toulon, France; Genoa, Olbia and Taranto, Italy; Marmaris, Turkey; Palma de Mallorca, Spain), Northern Europe (Southampton, UK), the Bahamas (Freeport), the Caribbean (St. Thomas and Martinique), the Pacific West Coast (Golfito, Costa Rica; La Paz and Ensenada, Mexico; and Vancouver, B.C., Canada) and the South Pacific (Papeete, Tahiti; Auckland, New Zealand; and Brisbane, Australia).
“The bottom line is we don’t have to worry about a thing when our boat is making a Dockwise trip,” said Mary. “They take care of the hard part before leaving us in friendly cruising country.”
After not servicing Marmaris, Turkey, for some time now, DYT is re-introducing this port of call on its schedule in June of 2010, with a voyage that originates in either Newport, R.I. or Port Everglades, Fla., and also services Palma on the way. The voyage then returns from Marmaris via Taranto, Italy (gateway to Croatia) and back to Port Everglades, then Newport, in September/October of 2010.
“We adjust our schedules to follow the migratory habits of our clients, said Van der Werf. “It is exciting for DYT that nautical tourism along the Adriatic coast has been experiencing steady growth over the past few years.”
Lift-On/Lift-Off as a DYT Option
Even though its schedule with the semi-submersible yacht carriers regularly covers main harbors around the world, as well as more unique destinations, DYT recognizes that it can’t meet every demand for location or timing with its own ships. Therefore, the company has entered the lift-on/lift-off market, offering the same dogged professionalism and attention to detail in servicing this alternative method of yacht transportation which is adaptable mostly to smaller yachts that are more easily placed in cradles on the deck of cargo ships.
“Owners still work directly with our DYT loading masters and service managers, utilizing the most sophisticated systems for flawless handling of logistics and interaction of transportation routes,” said Van der Werf.
With its lift-on, lift-off offerings, DYT has serviced the following ports thus far this year: Dubai (UAE), Genoa (Italy), Jacksonville (Florida), Palma de Mallorca (Spain), Phuket (Thailand), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Rotterdam (The Netherlands), Singapore, and Southampton (UK).