Q&A: Rob Hammerling on the Launching of Nautical Ventures Yacht Group and the 2024 Boating Market

Rob Hammerling

Rob Hammerling is an experienced yacht broker who has established his presence in the South Florida boating industry over the past decade. He has provided HAVEN with his insights on the latest trends in the boating market in September 2023 and last February, and leading up to the Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show this month and the Palm Beach International Boat Show in March, we sat down with Rob to get his input as 2024 gets into full swing.

HAVEN: Hello Rob! It’s a pleasant surprise to have you back so soon. We understand that there’s been a huge shift in your business. 

Rob: Yes, I’ve just completed a major pivot and am incredibly excited to talk about it.

HAVEN: So, you’ve changed dealerships and brands. We’d like to know why the change and what brands you are now offering.

Rob: This was an agonizing decision for me. I’d been with one dealership for six years, and the one before that offered similar center consoles and cruisers, so I’ve been selling the same type of boats for my nine plus years in the business. And now I’m not! I’ve shifted from selling center consoles, bow-riders, and cruisers from 21–45’ range, all American-made and mostly made in Florida, to all European cruisers and yachts from 30’–68’. It’s a huge shift in terms of who my target clients are, what my level of expertise is, and how I bring my current clients into the fold. 

There were several reasons for the change, from a growing dissatisfaction with working for a publicly traded company whose focus is entirely on the bottom line, to wanting to sell boats that I actually wanted to own. My new dealership, Nautical Ventures Yacht Group, is a new division of one of the largest privately owned dealerships in Florida, and one of the fastest-growing dealerships anywhere. The owner and senior management are making a play to be the best in the industry, and I just felt the time was right, the people were right, and the product was right.

HAVEN: Tell us about the brands! 

Rob: Well, I know a little more about them than you do, but not much! But I promise you, by the opening of the Miami International Boat Show on February 14th, I’ll be fully up-to-speed. And I’m super excited about taking customers to visit my new factories in England, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. The brands I now offer are:


What these boats have in common is they combine incredible seaworthiness and ride with dramatically sexier lines than U.S. manufacturers are offering. Horizontal or reverse prows, where the deck and waterline are vertical or the waterline extends beyond the deck, offer more interior volume, increased hull speed, and improved hydrodynamic drag is one of the more dramatic differences. Beyond the incredibly sexy lines and fantastic performance, the fit and finish these boats have is what sets them apart. I’m not knocking American manufacturers at all; the brands I used to represent did a great job, but if you’ve ever been to an American boat factory, I suggest you go to the upholstery department and try to find someone born and raised in the U.S. My new brands don’t need to import the workers. These countries have been producing amazing boats far longer than we’ve been a country, and you simply can’t replicate a dozen generations of boat-building experience!

HAVEN: In the past, you’ve shared your thoughts on the state of the boat market and, given that we’re coming up on the Miami and Palm Beach Boat Shows, do you have any insights to share? 

Rob: Hah! Well, you know I love this stuff! Look, it’s an interesting time we live in. I’m 63 years old, spent my first career on Wall Street, and have never seen the Fed be able to manage a “soft landing” for our economy and avoid a recession. But they did this time, and I don’t think nearly enough credit has been given. It’s also the first Presidential election year I can remember where people didn’t want to sit on the sidelines until it was over. Which is shocking, given the seemingly insurmountable divide we are seeing between the two presumed candidate’s supporters. So, what we are seeing in the boat industry is the return of the finance buyer, who evaporated as interest rates went from 4% to 9%. And it’s not so much a reduction of rates, which hasn’t happened, as a stabilization and belief that lower rates in the future will both keep the economy strong and provide refinancing options. The higher end of the market, the $1,000,000-and-up buyer, has been here all along since they were typically cash or short-term loan buyers who were far less susceptible to economic downturns. So, in a nutshell, I expect the upcoming shows to be filled with buyers anxious to replace an existing boat or add to their collection.

HAVEN: Most people seemed to be surprised that the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show had a record year in 2023; are you suggesting that the Miami International Boat Show and Palm Beach continue that trend?

Rob: South Florida has continued to solidify its position as the go-to haven for business, the wealthy, and those who aspire to be wealthy. Just as America, in general, has been a “safe harbor” to the world for over 50 years, South Florida has become a safe harbor for America. Business-friendly, no income tax, $18k sales tax cap on boats, to say nothing of the weather. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we have a huge influx of smart money; it’s not about politics, it’s about quality of life. So yes, I think the two upcoming shows will shatter the existing records, and even if the national economy slows down, I don’t see it happening here.

HAVEN: Thank you, once again, Rob, and best of luck with the Nautical Ventures Yacht Group.

Rob: Thank you for the ongoing support. I’m looking forward to seeing your team in Miami and Palm Beach!