Dream stay. American William Smith and his wife Ying Liu paid Dh1.2m for the three-bedroom yacht Image Credit: Anjana Sankar/XPRESS

ABU DHABI: Forget about rents, utility bills and annoying neighbours!

Who among us have not dreamt of living on a boat far away from the rigmarole of daily life? But when it comes to actually living that ultimate adventure, not many people have the pluck to come on board.

But American William Smith, 48, and his wife Ying Liu, 42, are an exception. The couple has been living on board a 55-foot Hatteras three-bedroom yacht in the Emirates Palace Marina since June last year. “I tell my wife this is something we are going to remember for the rest of our lives,” Smith, who works as an operations training manager in a government company, told XPRESS.

Private island

“It is like living on a private island every day. There are no crowded elevators or grinding traffic outside your house,” said Smith, who spent 14 years in the US Navy.

Liu, from China, equally in love with her life aboard, but admits the idea initially did not float well with her.

“Honestly, I felt very uncomfortable in the beginning. I was even scared,” said Liu, who was working in a shopping mall in Dubai when Smith first met her. It was love at first sight, says the couple who tied the knot last November.

But it did not take her long to feel at home on the boat. “Now I just love it here. Life is so relaxing and the views are beautiful,” Liu said, quickly adding that once she has a baby, she may want to move into an apartment.

But everything inside the Ohana Aloha is akin to that of a well-designed and cosy house. The entrance to the yacht is through a backyard that serves as an outdoor balcony with stunning views of the Emirates Palace Hotel. The upper deck of the yacht doubles up as the laundry space.

A few steps below the deck, you enter a well-furnished living room. Smith says he has refurbished the yacht to suit their requirements. All the three bedrooms have attached bathrooms with electric toilets. There are closets attached to bedrooms for wardrobe space. There is even space for a shoe stand.

At the rear, there is a kitchen fitted with electric oven, refrigerator, washer and dryer. Close to the kitchen there’s study-cum-dining space. The yacht also has four flat-screen TVs and three stereo systems.

What about storage? “Every inch such as the space under the couches, beds, side walls etc, has been converted into storage space,” said Smith.

No rent stress

According to him, in a city where residential rents are on an upward spiral, the decision to buy a boat and call it home made absolute financial sense.

“I paid Dh1.2 million for this three-bedroom yacht. I would have hardly got a one bedroom apartment for that amount. Moreover, I think investing in real estate is riskier,” said Smith.

And as his housing allowance pays off a chunk of the mortgage on the boat, Smith says he only stands to gain whenever he decides to sell the boat. Free electricity, wi-fi and satellite television are added perks.

However, the yacht owners have to pay a dock rent for the marina. The fee is based on the boat length and services provided. Typically, fee for a 50-55 foot yacht will cost Dh50,000 to Dh80,000 a year.

The range of services provided by the marina, Smith said, adds more value to their lifestyle. “Cabs are available anytime from the marina. There is abundant fresh water supply. I get free ice. Garbage is collected every day. There is nothing to complain about.”

The only downside, the couple says, is lack of privacy during weekends. “For our friends, it is just a weekend on a boat. But for us it is our home. It is difficult to have a weekend for ourselves without telling off friends,” said Smith.


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