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by CareyBot

It seems boat traffic has slowed this summer on local lakes. Higher fuel costs clearly are pinching the busiest leisure time of the year.

However, a significant blow to the masses is not even a light tap to the rich. Astonishingly, it could not be a better time to be a builder of large yachts. A recent report indicates the number of mega-yachts is not only on the rise, but that shipbuilders around the world are having difficulty employing enough workers to meet the demand.

Camper & Nicholsons International, a yacht broker with offices in several international cities that monitors sales and charters of yachts greater than 80 feet, reported that there are approximately 3,800 vessels that size now in service with 1,200 more to be built by 2010.

Now that we’re in dreamland, the largest known floating home purchased by a Seattle-area resident is the 416-foot Octopus owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The world’s largest private yacht afloat when it was launched five years ago, it now reportedly has slipped down the nautical ladder to eighth, a result of the whims of comfortable watercraft enthusiasts from the Middle East.

The Octopus reportedly cost more than $200 million, has two helicopters, seven auxiliary boats and a 10-man submarine that has the capacity to sleep eight for up to two weeks underwater. The Octopus has a permanent crew of 60, including several former Navy Seals, and a vehicle for crawling on the ocean floor.

Because owners must spend a minimum of 10 percent of the purchase price annually to pay crew salaries and maintain the vessel, Allen, who also has owned other huge yachts in addition to the Octopus, would need a $20 million annual budget to keep his largest boat ship-shape.

The world’s largest private yacht, the 530-foot Dubai, owned by the Crown Prince of Dubai, was launched in 2006. It is rumored to be en route to the No. 2 position, pushed down by a 557-foot ship soon to take to the seas.

Other curious yachts include the 452-foot Rising Sun, owned by Larry Ellison, chief executive of Oracle Corp. One of the more intriguing stories told in boating circles features the eventual size of the vessel. Original designed to be 393 feet, Ellison allegedly insisted that the yacht be made larger than Allen’s Octopus.

The 370-foot Le Grand Bleu, built in Germany and launched in 2000, is one of the first private yachts to ever earn an Environmental Protection Notation from Lloyd’s of London, the renowned insurance company. The vessel has its own sewage and wastewater treatment plants, complies to strict nitrogen and sulfur exhaust emissions limits, and makes its own water. Security features include a submarine for detecting missiles and underwater mines.

So, if you could afford a floating home — or even a weekend sailboat — that you would like close to your home or business, where would you put it? The Internet has provided a niche for just about everything imaginable, including search engines for global moorage, docks and "navigable" waterfront property.

One site, www.dodocks.com, based in Stuart, Fla., allows consumers and real estate professionals to search by length of boat, water depth, distance to major body of water, existing dockage and abovewater clearance. The company’s free waterfront specialist directory was designed to help boaters find agents, events, waterfront restaurants, fishing spots and fuel.

"For some people, the water and the dock are as much of a consideration as the house itself," said Debra Parker, CEO and founder of dodocks.com. "One doesn’t work without the other. Our customers know what they want. They want to find the right answers in one place and they want to find them fast."

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a second home can be a boat as long as it has sleeping, cooking and bathroom facilities. You can also deduct the mortgage interest on a boat as long as it is used as security for the loan.

I wonder if Larry Ellison deducts any mortgage interest on the Rising Sun?

To get even more valuable advice from Tom, visit his Second Home Center.

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