How Berthon’s Motor Yacht Broker Hugh Rayner Maintains His Work/Life Balance
August 30th, 2022
I do seem to get a lot of comments from friends, asking exactly what a yacht broker does?
However, the occasional social media post of another sea-trial, in idyllic conditions, on a sun-kissed Solent – sparkling under a blue summer sky, not only documents what a superb environment we are privileged to work in, but also that we have a job which does (sadly…) involve some incredible experiences and fairly epic modes of transport, generally of the floating kind.
All that being said, the Berthon Sales Group marketing team, Harry Shutler and I thought we would try to show you what a day in the life of a yacht broker at Berthon International Yacht Sales & Brokerage might look like.
It is a Monday (July) morning and we start the week with a visit to Chichester and their tranquil environs. First stop – Berthon International (UK) – 08:00. Part 1.
1. We pick up a huge wheeled suitcase full of cameras, microphones, video equipment, notebooks, crew shirts and caps and head off in the faithful grey Volkswagen Passat. The weather is kind today – sun, but not too much. Harry does not like too much sun as it messes up the camera settings. Harry prefers a little cloud, but today he is happy that he has his full set of 100 Millimeter Lee graduated ND filters.
2. We have great car journeys together. Set sat nav. for Northney Marina.
3. Arrive 10:00 (actually bang on time) and meet the owner for a coffee. Harry has cappuccino. I have a latte. The owner has a double espresso and a scone (jam has to be specifically requested, but it is a great scone we are told).
4. Trundle down the pontoon and turn left. Watch Harry’s eyes. He thinks this is pretty awesome.
5. So today, we are filming something unique, Penn-Jersey Commuter M/Y SIENA. We start with a video of me having to introduce the boat to our waiting YouTube audience, with a swan in the foreground and Harry getting all arty with his angles.
6. Then it is a systematic bow to stern, interior/exterior photo shoot.
7. We then video the tour…
8. I take a few hundred iPhone shots of water pump serial numbers, air-conditioning control panels and holding tank level indicating gauges. This is so we have as much info as possible when the more detailed questions roll in.
9. I guess we spend three and a half hours rummaging through lockers, inspecting liferafts, with Harry getting more shots of the faultless varnish work and brass deck gear of today’s rather special vessel.
10. We then break for more coffee, this time on the atmospheric open aft deck, and discuss the market, winter storage and likely maintenance, how we will organise and cover viewings, and whether we can join the ship (she was built in 1932) for a day at the British Classic Regatta in Cowes, Isle of Wight in a fortnight… I immediately accept, even though I have not checked with the long-suffering Mrs Rayner… I have to remember, this is my job.
11. We pack up the kit in the very heavy camera cases and trundle back up the ramp. The tide has dropped – so it is a steeper climb. We lug it into the estate.
12. We get a piece of paper signed, engaging us as the central broker for this listing. Happy and a bit excited.
13. Pause to help load two dining chairs into the back of the Rolls Royce convertible, and turn on the air-co.
Next stop is Itchenor, due at 14:00 – arrive at 14:03. Part 2.
1. It is hot. There is the wonderful sound of a Merlin-powered Spitfire, from Goodwood, banking overhead. We have arrived at Supermarine Motor Yachts Ltd. A large hangar with glass-panelled sides and roller door sits down to our left, and we walk past a long, lean white shadowy shape and into an office that is bathed in history. They used to build the Fairmile B coastal motor launch for the Admiralty here, in the same sheds with the angled floors. Wow.
“Hi, I’m Hugh from Berthon. Pleased to meet you – we’re here to help with the boat…”
2. Next job on the list is an equally exciting project. The upstart cousin of the Fairey Spearfish 30 (launched at the 1969 London Boat Show Fairey fans) is in the hangar. The Supermarine Spearfish 32, 32.001.
3. The roller door goes up, lights are clicked on and there she is. Sitting on squat tripod cradles, with a boarding gantry behind, is our target. I love this thing. Slim, nonchalant, utterly cool yet a little bit boy-racer. She shares the same parentage as all those offshore powerboats that I have watched smashing their way around our island on the epic 1960s documentary “Ride the White Horses”.
4. Have to remember – this is my job as I walk around her deeply vee’d glacier-white hull, picked out with the magical letters S.U.P.E.R.M.A.R.I.N.E. in bright red letters, with a deep red cavita line, tipped with an arrow and finished with a flight.
5. We share an interesting language that is quite nerdy…
“The Lumishores all change colour on the CZone.”
“She’s full vinylester this one”.
“We went thru-stem with the Ultramarine”.
6. We are in full awe of how this beast of a boat is built, and what she is capable of when the tightly-packed-in twin V8’s release their torque through the beautifully sculpted polished stainless props. Hello 46 knots and turning angles that the Spitfire still buzzing overhead would be proud of… However, back to work.
7. Photos, video, set up microphone, check levels, set up GoPro, look at lens, run through presentation to camera, avoid reflections, damn – the settings on the GoPro are wrong for the oscillations on the LED lighting, etc. etc.
8. Images and film are in the can. We must get paperwork done.
9. We have a fantastic tour around the amazing Supermarine facility. Gosh, these guys can craft a boat.
We say our goodbyes. Extra Time.
1. Jump into car, start engine, turn on air-co., set destination to home and start a series of phone calls that just do not stop. Harry finds this quite amusing.
2. The little butterfly in my mind is looking forward to whom this boat suits… Whether that other boat I saw a week ago might suit better. Whether they still have that 2008 Aquastar 48S in Dartmouth and how many owners is she now? Is she air conditioned and heated? When were the anodes last inspected, etc.
3. Have we had lunch? No, and its 4:30. Oops. Its a whirl! It is a rabbit hole. However, it’s a great rabbit hole to be involved in. This is my job.