There is always some clown with a bigger boat

IMG-20170818-00078 (2)

Behold the good ship Saint Nicolas, floating gin palace and testament to mankind’s engineering capability.

I recently saw this boat up close, moored in the marina near where we were staying on holiday in Sardinia.

I’m not sure whether my amateur photography skills adequately portray the sheer scale of the boat. But take it from me…it is, to use the correct nautical terminology, fucking massive.

In case the image doesn’t do it justice, here’s some information on the 230ft (70 metre) custom-built motor yacht that I found from some quick googling:

Saint Nicolas’s interior configuration has been designed to comfortably accommodate up to 12 guests overnight in 6 cabins, comprising a master suite, 1 VIP stateroom, 2 double cabins, 2 twin cabins and 1 pullman bed. She is also capable of carrying up to 19 crew onboard in 9 cabins to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience.

Saint Nicolas yacht is equipped with an ultra-modern stabilization system which reduces roll motion effect and results in a smoother more enjoyable cruising experience underway. This luxury yacht is also fitted with ‘at anchor stabilisers’ which work at anchor, increasing on-board comfort when the yacht is stationary, particularly in rough waters.

Powered by 2 Caterpillar (3512B DITA) 1,850hp diesel engines and propelled by her twin screw propellers Motor yacht Saint Nicolas is capable of a top speed of 15.5 knots, and comfortably cruises at 14 knots. With her 200,000 litres fuel tanks she has a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles at 12 knots.

In the marina there was an unwritten hierarchy whereby the smaller sailboats and launches were moored on one side of the harbour.  On the other side of the harbour, the motor cruisers were lined up in ascending order of size and price…with the Saint Nicolas being the biggest and flashiest in the marina.

Of course, no one would be so vulgar as to suggest that this is all a giant competition.  But that, dear reader, is the only interpretation that makes any sense to me.

I was reminded of the Cold War arms race between America and Russia, where each side kept adding bigger missiles, with longer range and more powerful warheads….long after the point needed to wipe the other side off the map.

As Spock might have said:

This is illogical, Captain.

Runaway consumerism relies on the competition not being too overt.  If the competition aspect were brought out into the open, that might reveal the silliness and futility of the whole circus.


The zillionaires with enormous (but not the biggest) yachts would be forced to admit that they had lost the game….losers!  

And, almost as embarrassingly, the zillionaire who actually had the biggest yacht would be forced to admit that they’d been playing a silly game that was basically no different to a toddler fight in a sandpit.

Its like a high budget version of a game of Top Trumps.  Given that the price of a boat like the Saint Nicolas is about $110m and the price of a pack of Top Trumps is about £5, The Escape Artist can see a cost saving opportunity here.

Just to clarify my position…The Escape Artist is not in favour of banning things.  And its nothing to do with envy.  I really don’t feel the need to own or even rent one of those boat thingies.

In fact, I feel slightly sick when I see a boat like this.  Not because I’m some class warrior who can’t stand inequality and thinks all the children should win the egg and spoon race. Nor even because of the gas guzzling and environmental waste involved.

No, its more that I’m prone to sea sickness.  Several years ago, back in The Prison Camp, I went on day release a corporate sailing day.  I joined a boat participating in a yacht race round The Isle of Wight.

No doubt many of the amateur sailors and landlubbers involved suffered from sea sickness at some point during the day, given the variable wave conditions and the hospitality provided.  But, as far as I am aware, I was the only one who was violently sick (without any alcohol) while sailing to the start line and before the race had even started. It was all very embarrassing.

But even before this fiasco, the whole boat scene had always struck me as slightly silly. And its not cheap either. If you’re overcome with the urge to go sailing, a more cost effective way to achieve the same result would be to put on some white flares and a sailor hat and then stand under a cold shower ripping up handfuls of £50 notes and occasionally stopping to swallow some salty water.

So its fair to say that I’m not a big fan of boats.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against real sailing, which seems like a wholesome and fun activity for those people with “sea legs”. But, in my book, real sailing means using sails and windpower…the sort of sailing featured in Dignity.

I had not been to Sardinia before and was therefore unfamiliar with the local customs. But having observed things for a while, the aim of the game amongst the yachties seems to be to trundle a few hundred metres from the marina and moor it just off one of the busy beaches WHERE EVERYONE CAN SEE YOUR MASSIVE BOAT.

This reminded me of the catchy tune recently featured in Now That’s What I Call Financial Independence! 8.

It made for quite a spectacle…an armada of bling lined up in view (but out of reach) of the beach-bound peasants holidaymakers.

Having fought their way to the top of the pile, you might imagine that the owner of (or person chartering) the Saint Nicolas could now smile, sit back and relax in the knowledge that they had won The Boat War.

But no!  There is no ultimate victory in The Boat War…thanks to the universal principle set out in the title to this post:

There is always some clown with a bigger boat

And so it came to pass that only a couple of days later, I saw this in the next harbour along the coast:

Yacht Sun

This boat is called Here Comes the Sun (google it if you don’t believe me!) and can be hired from just €1.2m per week (that’s before fuel, staff expenses, mooring fees etc etc).

Yacht heli

It’s 83 metres long but the scale of it is hard to grasp without seeing it with your own eyes.

If you look at the photo above, that small blue square on the roof is actually a swimming pool. And that area at the front with a big white “H” painted on the deck is a helicopter landing pad.

For Top Trumps enthusiasts, here are some more details:


Here Comes The Sun’s interior layout sleeps up to 12 guests in 10 rooms, including a master suite, 3 VIP staterooms, 2 double cabins and 4 double/twin cabins. She is also capable of carrying up to 25 crew onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience. Timeless styling, beautiful furnishings and sumptuous seating feature throughout to create an elegant and comfortable atmosphere.

Here Comes The Sun’s impressive leisure and entertainment facilities make her the ideal charter yacht for socialising and entertaining with family and friends.


She is built with a steel hull and aluminium superstructure. This custom yacht also features ‘at anchor stabilisers’ which work at zero speed, increasing onboard comfort at anchor and on rough waters. With a cruising speed of 12.5 knots, a maximum speed of 17.5 knots and a range of 5,500nm from her 250,000 litre fuel tanks, she is the perfect combination of performance and luxury.


Air Conditioning, Beach Club, Lift (Elevator), Deck Jacuzzi, Gym/exercise equipment, Stabilisers underway, Stabilizers at Anchor, WiFi connection on board, Piano, Spa, Helicopter Landing Pad, Touch-n-Go Helipad

Honestly, you couldn’t make this shit up. Take that Mr Saint Nicolas and your puny little 70m dinghy!

It would be easy to read this and chuckle at these silly and extreme examples of consumerism….but then get into your “normal” Volvo XC90 or BMW X7 or whatever and sit in a traffic jam on your way to the shopping centre to pick up the latest i-thingy, thereby sticking it to that annoying guy in accounts or The Joneses next door.

But, you see, this article is not just about boats.  Exactly the same principles apply to houses, cars, watches, offices, sofas, cushions, skis, handbags, swimming pools, tablets, phones, holiday homes, prams, buggies, racehorses and all the other props, gadgets and gizmos.

There is only one way to win this game. And that is not to play it.

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  1. You’re entirely right of course on the ‘who’s got the biggest’ front. As I keep telling my wife ‘size isn’t important’.

    But, if it’s your dream to acquire the biggest yacht, and you have the means to achieve it, then who are we to say ‘your dream is wrong?’

    I’m documenting on Facebook and YouTube my goal to make £300,000 in 10 years. £80 – 100,000 it to buy a 50′ Beneteau yacht and have it moored in Gibraltar harbour, and the remaining £300k to sail it around the Med

    1. That sounds expensive! Have you considered renting a kayak?? 😉

      1. After all that hard work I deserve my little bit of luxury 😀

    2. The Rhino · · Reply

      dude – don’t wait 10 years. You could be skippering a yacht tomorrow and be getting paid to do it. I assume you can sail right? Lateral, imaginative thinking required, not 300k.

  2. David Kennedy · · Reply

    Mr Spock, not Dr Spock…

  3. Prometheus · · Reply

    Well we know now where the ‘lower than bench mark’ Fund Managers are holidaying, presumably the larger yacht is hired by the benchmark exceeding few FMs 😉

  4. Hi TEA,

    Love it 🙂 I have to say I am guilty of lusting after a nice boat – I would love to own one (maybe not quite on the scale above) – something that I can potter around, preferably sail (more romantic and better for the environment!).
    Will I ever own one? Who knows, I need to get to FI first, then to my holiday levels I would like. So in all probability no.

    As you say – the best way to win is not to get involved, but go for what makes you happy. I’ve lived all my life without a boat, so would buying one make me any happier? Probably not 🙂


    1. The Rhino · · Reply

      “If it floats, flies or fucks,” as Felix Dennis once said, it is better to rent than to buy.

      1. Hahaha – yes I do like that however not sure I would want to rent the last category! 😉

      2. It’s a sound principle if you aren’t using the ‘facility’ constantly. If you are it’s better/cheaper to own

    2. I too have lived all my life without a boat. Or rather I had, until two years ago when, 6 months after becoming FI and retiring early(ish), I bought one. It has definitely made me happier!

      Admittedly it’s not big (45′), it’s not new (15 yo), it’s not shiny and it doesn’t go to sea (cos it’s a narrowboat) but then again it did only cost about 5% of my hard-earned net worth (excluding the house). I now spend a third of my time each year pottering about on UK canals and rivers (currently on it for 1 more week by which time I will have spent 8 out of the last 9 weeks on it) and I’m loving it.

      Don’t dismiss boat ownership out of hand, it can be good if you’re sensible about it.

      1. hi Sean,
        Funnily enough you aren’t the only person I have heard of who has taken a narrowboat – they can be very relaxing and pretty expensive to hire (I thought about one for a “cheap” holiday.. that went out the window!).
        When the weather is good I can’t imagine anything nicer, so enjoy it 🙂

  5. professorsimonpeach · · Reply

    Earlier this year I used the “Brexit Bonus” gain made by my US stocks last June to buy a motor yacht in Holland to live on in some comfort and travel the waterways of Continental Europe (some irony I know). Its my home,though not an occasional plaything. Operating, mooring and maintenance costs are a fraction of those in the UK, and my monthly living costs are less than the rent on a studio flat in Brighton – the view is a bit more inspirational too. Thankfully, the Joneses (or their continental equivalent) are not as abundant on the inland waterways, as they are in the Med.

  6. Red kite · · Reply

    Isn’t ‘motor yacht’ a contradiction in terms? Or am I just hopelessly old fashioned to think that yachts have, y’know, sails?

    1. FrugalFox · · Reply

      I think the dutch invented “Yachts” or the word at least 😉 At that point yachts had sails because there wasn’t anything quite so affordable!

  7. Did you take the second photo from your personal chopper?? LOL.

  8. […] There is always some clown with a bigger boat – The Escape Artist […]

  9. […] They’re the people that spend summers floating around the Mediterranean on yachts, weekdays being interviewed by Hello! magazine and weekends at suitably palatial suburban mansions […]

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