Superyacht 101 Series: Advice From Fellow Owner Mark Robba
Editor’s note: This is the fifth installment in a new series on MegayachtNews.com for first-time buyers (see “Introducing the Superyacht 101 Series”). Who better to provide advice, especially for those of you planning to build, than an existing owner who’s gone through the experience? For this article, we spoke with Mark Robba (above), who commissioned the 167-foot (51-meter) Dunia Baru. Here, he relates how even best-laid plans need altering sometimes, and therefore how flexibility is key. Above all, he recommends, remember to enjoy the process.
MegayachtNews.com: How long ago did you purchase your first superyacht?
Mark Robba: I have owned boats all my life, starting with a Boston Whaler when I was 13, living on the Maine coast. I skippered Pedigree sailing yachts after college, including the famous Bermuda Racer Baccarat, a 52-foot S&S yawl built in 1953. I also supervised a complete refit. But, building a superyacht was beyond what I had expected, both in terms of complexity and length of build. I started building my first superyacht, Dunia Baru (below), in 2005. I knew I wanted it to be built in Indonesia by the best of the best. I enrolled the help of the Konjo Boat Builders, an amazing group of master shipwrights who craft everything entirely by hand using traditional methods. The boat took almost eight years to complete—much longer that originally anticipated—but it was worth every minute and every dollar.
MegayachtNews.com: What convinced you to buy your first superyacht?
Mark Robba: It was my desire to find the ultimate tool for wonderful family adventures. I find our family time on the boat helps us to reconnect and focus on what is really important in life.
MegayachtNews.com: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Mark Robba: What I learned was the need for flexibility. Nothing is ever as you expected it to be. My build process went on for eight years—crazy when I look back on it—but the comments I always hear now is that the quality of the craftsmanship and the attention to details are outstanding. Develop a positive relationship with the build team, from the very top to the bottom, and make sure they are happy when you are involved or on the boat! Boatbuilders are true craftsmen, so for me it was about creating an environment where they wanted to do their best and making sure they knew all the time how proud I was of their work.
MegayachtNews.com: How about for a brokerage yacht: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Mark Robba: I have bought used boats before, and it can be a great option if you can get a great deal. But, you have to remember that, chances are, you are buying someone else’s problems. I loved the new-build process—I enjoyed looking for the art used in every cabin, for example. My wife and I did endless trip throughout Bali looking for that special thing, not knowing what it would be ’til we found it. And now the boat has an extra-special meaning to us. We love spending time in our floating home.
MegayachtNews.com: If you were to give one piece of advice to a first-time superyacht buyer, what would it be?
Mark Robba: Don’t rush into the purchase of a superyacht—carefully investigate what you really want! What are you going to use the boat for? Make the boat fit your needs and requirements. My desire was for adventure, and I named the boat Dunia Baru Adventures, which means “New World Adventures” in Bahasa Indonesia. She was built to take my family and friends to a new world. When people ask what my favorite place is, it is always the same answer: the place I have never been!
Before embarking on the build of any yacht, I would first recommend that you develop a perspective that will allow you to enjoy the build process. To be honest, building the boat was probably more fun than owning it … well, maybe! What I learned early on was to forget about the time schedule. For the first two years, everything was behind schedule, and I became so unhappy. The only solution was to throw out the schedule and just focus on the result. This is exactly what I did, and it truly allowed me to make the building of Dunia Baru one of the highlights of my life.
Secondly, you have to get the right team. As well as the boatbuilders in Indonesia (many of who still work on the yacht as crew today), I found an excellent team of marine system engineers from Massachusetts that were willing to take on the project. And the great thing, 10 years later , we are still great friends. Why? Because we learned to find humour in the “challenges.”
Building Dunia Baru taught me the importance of patience and perspective. When you can enjoy what you are doing, the end result will always be much better.
Live life—it is so precious!