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Norwich - Want to buy a yacht? Or maybe just see what it would be like to ride aboard one for a day on the Thames River or Long Island Sound?
A new yacht sales and charter rental office will be opening soon at the Marina at American Wharf to accommodate those interests.
Robert Christopher Marine Yacht Sales based in Stamford is putting the finishing touches on a new office at the marina that will offer yacht brokerage services and charter rental bookings, said John Hotte, vice president and charter manager for Robert Christopher.
Hotte said he has been working with Norwich marina manager Michael Valentine on plans to open the office, which will have three or four sales representatives offering for sale new and used boats from 150-foot Boston whalers to 200-foot yachts. Hotte said the staff would not be at the office at all times, but could arrange appointments and work remotely throughout the region.
The office also would be available to book charter cruises for corporate functions, weddings and other family events and special occasions - but no fishing - aboard Real Escape, a 56-foot commercial charter yacht docked in Old Saybrook. Hotte said Real Escape is "the only private motor yacht operating between Boston and New York that can accommodate 40 people."
Hotte said the company was interested in having a presence at the Norwich marina because Real Escape has been serving some clients associated with both the Mohegan Sun Casino and the Foxwoods Resort Casino.
"We have about 500 listings on our database," Hotte said. "That acts as a magnet. About 90 percent of the people do their research online."
Hotte agreed with a recent report by the National Marine Manufacturers Association that said the recreational boating industry appears to be on the rebound. The association reported 2011 as the first year since 2006 that American retailers saw a rise in U.S. sales for recreational boats, accessories and services.
Retail sales for recreational boats rose 6 percent to $32.3 billion from the end of 2010 to last year. Boating participation rose 10 percent, while boat sales increased marginally, the association said.
Hotte said Robert Christopher Marine Yacht Sales can serve as either the seller's or buyer's broker.
"This is the best we've seen it in the past four years," Hotte said. "Stuff between $25,000 and $100,000 is selling. The higher inventory is not selling that well, because many have mortgages and they face the same challenges as real estate."