Join the Club – Sailing Ecuador

Come on, you’ve all heard them.  The running yacht jokes. You know: “The two best days of owning a yacht are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.”  Or, “A yacht is a hole in the water into which you pour money.”  No one is saying it is always easy, but yacht ownership certainly can be enjoyable – especially, if you are sailing Ecuador and its beautiful Pacific Coast !

I am fortunate to reside in an area of Ecuador, which offers two significant marina and yacht clubs, within a 7-minute drive of each other.  Yachting sure is popular off these southern Ecuadorean shores around the resort community of Salinas, Ecuador.

A few minutes to the south in Salinas, you have the venerable and extremely exclusive Salinas Yacht Club.  Its humble beginnings do not belie the privileged status to come.  Conceived on a rickety old pier in the year 1940, the distinctive yacht club arose out of a casual picnic conversation, when the dialog turned to a location to socialize and promote competitive sailing.  With the birth of the idea, the yacht club vision was given shape and in  January of 1942 the Salinas Yacht Club was formally inaugurated.

Today, the oft upgraded Salinas Yacht Club has steadily grown, both in terms of structure size, but also membership. The swelling ranks belie a virtual “Who’s Who” of Ecuador’s influential business and political elite, with its well appointed location in the heart of the Salinas Malecón (Boardwalk) strip.  Membership has grown so much that it is virtually capped.  There is a staggering waiting list simply composed of direct descendants of current members, who enjoy priority status for whatever few new memberships may arise.

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I tell this next story more so that others can avoid my fate, rather than as any attempt at humor.  Sitting at the Salinas Yacht Club for lunch, as the guest of a member, at a table with maybe 12 businessmen, the Salinas Yacht Club Commodore dutiful stopped at our table.  After a brief discussion, the Commodore decided to sit at our table for lunch.  When conversation hit a slight lull, I remarked kindly to the Commodore about the grandeur of the yacht club and then, in a moment of excessive precociousness, noted, “So, I understand the waiting list here is rather long. Who do I have to kill, or what do I have to do, to get in here?”  Without the blink of eye, or the slightest hint of a smile, the response I received was, “That’s about it.”

A scant 7 minutes up the road to the north, a visitor to Salinas will find the Puerto Lucia Yacht Club (PLYC).  The younger and more modern sibling to the Salinas Yacht Club, the PLYC was founded in 1993.  A larger facility, the PLYC also boasts the exceptional distinction of being the only marina in Ecuador that is affiliated with a residential development project.  PLYC is surrounded by condo towers and several smaller villas and low-rise condo structures, as well.  It has its own strategic location, literally walking distance to the regional mall that services the Salinas metro area.

Ecuador also offers the Manta Yacht Club, located, aptly so, in the City of Manta and Puerto Amistad found in Bahía de Caráquez.  With almost 1,400 miles of coastline, Ecuador’s scant 4 marinas/yacht clubs certainly leave room for enhancement, especially given that 2 are clustered together in the Salinas area and that only 1, PLYC, offers residences affiliated with the yacht club.

2010-12-21_5031_2010-12-20_3889_PM1.tifIn fact, for many sailors planning to start a South Pacific voyage at the most favorable time of year, a safe place to dock a boat in between seasons is essential. Most marinas in Central America can be hot and humid. Ecuador offers the perfect place as the weather is reasonably dry and cooler, with the added advantage of being located in the South Pacific itself!

As such, we always look not only to identify ideal recreational opportunities for our readers, but also to target exceptional investment opportunities.  With a recognized global Marina berth shortage and the popularity of the South Pacific sailing routes, an entrepreneurial minded venture could find an excellent investment opportunity in building one or more yacht club/marina/residential development complexes along Ecuador’s expansive 1,400 mile coastline.  Land assimilation costs would be relatively inexpensive, demand is high and the competition limited.  A quality project or two would do quite well here in Ecuador.

Another lucrative investment opportunity would be the custom yacht building marketplace.  With local labor both knowledgeable and inexpensive, the craftsmanship required is available and the costs to build locally would create a built-in valuation edge for retail sales.  The current Ecuadorean Presidential Administration is heavily promoting new domestic enterprise ventures, which translates into likely assistance in creating such a business model.

Lastly, another worthwhile business venture would be the Yacht Brokerage business.  A market segment with virtually no penetration and yet a healthy and active yacht owners demographic, it is virtually unexplored territory with a vacuum just waiting to be filled.  The Salinas market location would seem ideal for such a venture, drawing not only from the local market itself, but from the commercial capitol city of Guayaquil, situated a short 2-hour drive away.

So whether your preference is sailing the intoxicating waters of the South Pacific for the sheer pleasure of it, or perhaps considering a lucrative investment opportunity or business venture, chart a course and set sail for the smooth waters found just offshore in Ecuador.