Sales – Fort Lauderdale Office
Brad Nelson grew up in a small beach community in Southern California. Early boating experiences included watching his father work for two years building a small cabin cruiser, which the family used for outings to Baja California, the Sea of Cortez, Lake Meade in Nevada, and most of the Southern California Harbors from San Diego to Newport Beach.
Summer vacations from high school found him working on a tugboat out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, taking dredging supplies to the southern tip of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, where a new marina and resort was being constructed. Brad spent a summer helping older friends deliver a North Sea Trawler from City Island, New York down the East Coast of the U.S. to Palm Beach, Florida, and subsequently down the Bahama Islands to the Caribbean.
Joining the U.S. Navy in 1978, Brad received formal training in radar navigation and surface tracking, communications and control systems, and naval tactical data Systems. Brad spent the next three years on the Navy’s newest “Spruance” class destroyer, USS Elliott DD 963.
Following that tour of duty on the USS Elliott, Brad went on temporary assignment to the Korean Navy teaching Anti- Submarine Warfare Air Traffic Control to officers and men of our South Korean Allies. Leaving the East China Sea in early 1981, Brad joined a new command in Key West, Florida, which was tasked with delivering the first in a new production series of Patrol Hydrofoil Misselships, built by Boeing Marine Systems. The group of seventeen officers and men departed Key West in June of 1981, and spent the next year “shaking down” the new hydrofoil misselship in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. The results of the team were over three hundred modifications to the engineering, navigation, and command and control systems, which were incorporated in to the building of the next five ships in the “Pegasus” class of Patrol Hydrofoil Misselship.
The year in Seattle was both challenging and rewarding, with almost every day spent operating the vessel. The vessel was designed to cruise in excess of sixty knots in all sea conditions, day or night. The vessel could operate in every kind of weather and sea condition, from freezing rain and dense fog to twenty-plus foot seas rolling down from the North Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Alaska.
As the primary Navigator and Senior Operations Specialist on the ship, Brad was responsible for training the other crewmembers in navigation, radar tracking, and general deck seamanship. The crew consisted of only seventeen members and each individual in the Navigation and Combat Systems Division was afforded the opportunity to become familiar with Engineering and Damage Control, which rounded out Brad’s understanding of ship systems overall. The hydrofoil had twin MTU diesel engines coupled to KaMeWa water jets for hull borne operations and a General Electric LM 2500 Gas Turbine Engine coupled to a water jet propulsor for Foilborne Operations.
The experience on the new construction and pre-commissioning crew of USS Taurus, PHM 3 was to be of immense value to Brad in the yachting industry in years to come. The ability to safely navigate and operate a relatively large and complex ship such as the hydrofoil combined with an in depth understanding of engineering and ships auxiliary systems, as well as the verbal skills necessary to communicate this understanding to others proved to be of great benefit to Brads clients over the years.
The new construction Boeing Hydrofoil program and the years spent operating the ship throughout the Caribbean, (including being the first on scene during the conflict in Grenada), was a very interesting and rewarding experience, one Brad was reluctant to leave, but being the last of the original crew after six years it was time to move on. Brad went on independent duty and remained in Key West attached to the Joint Operations Command Center. Brad left the Navy in 1988 and obtained his U.S.Merchant Marine Officers License following exam by the US Coast Guard, Department of Transportation.
His introduction to the Yachting world began when he was hired as the US factory Captain for two foreign shipyards, Techno Marine Yachts Italy and Caliari Yachts SA. At that time in 1988, the first few high speed (40kts plus) large express cruisers (63-76′), were being introduced into the United States and many were not familiar with operating these yachts. Offloading the vessels from the ships, which brought them in from Europe, commissioning them and delivering them to the new owners was a tremendously fun and interesting enterprise. It was also a time when new friendships and relationships in the boating business were formed and which continue to this day.
Brad says one of the many rewards of being in yacht sales is helping new owners familiarize with their new boats, which allows them to maximize their enjoyment and reduce the stress and frustration, which can come from any new endeavor. Brad strives to have a positive influence and receives vicarious enjoyment in a families’ opportunity to enjoy their recreational time together, develop new skills, and share new adventures. By owning a yacht, families become members of the boating community and all that entails- new friends, new locations, and new ideas.
Brad initially met the folks at Atlantic Yacht & Ship in 1989 when he was giving demonstration rides to various local brokerage offices, introducing the latest yachts from Tecnomarine and Caliari. Brad was immediately impressed with the fact that this was a company formed by people who were themselves experienced yachtsmen, commercial mariners, or former Navy and Coast Guard personnel. They seemed to possess a degree of personal experience and in-depth knowledge about boats and a down to earth, straightforward manner of doing business that made them stand out in the crowd.
A year later Brad began as an “outside” salesman with Atlantic Yacht & Ship while he continued to work as a Captain on private yachts and deliver new vessels from overseas. In 1991, Brad came in to the Atlantic office one day and sat down at an empty desk, and he has not left since. Joe Marino, who has been the owner of Atlantic Yacht & Ship since 1982 often says; “I would fire him, except that I cannot remember ever actually hiring him”. Once he went into sales full time, Brad still found himself delivering yachts for clients up and down the east coast, and to the Bahamas frequently. Brad has found “that special boat” a client was looking for in the Mediterranean, gone to Europe and delivered the yacht to a seaport for shipping back to the US.
Not long ago Brad sold a boat in South Florida to a German client who wanted the vessel in Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Brad ran the boat from Fort Lauderdale to Savannah, Georgia, where it was loaded aboard a freighter and shipped to Singapore. Brad flew to Singapore to meet the yacht and then delivered the vessel on its own bottom eleven hundred miles up the east coast of the Malaysian Peninsula, across the Gulf of Thailand to Pattaya Beach, Thailand.
Brad often remarks about boat sales and the follow up that is essential to having a satisfied customer, “sometimes you just have to go the extra eleven hundred miles”. Brad says that his experience and satisfaction working at Atlantic Yacht & Ship is not just the culmination of a lifetime love affair with the ocean, but actually several life times. ” I think I owe my deep affection for all things nautical to my parents from an earlier incarnation, who first sent me floating down the Nile River in a small basket of woven papyrus reeds”..and so it goes.
Brad says the job does not end when the boat is sold- that is when it begins. Most new owners want to put their own personal preferences aboard their boat in terms of navigational electronics, safety equipment, vessels’ tender and the tenders deployment system, as well as entertainment electronics and interior furnishings. All of this in addition to having the yacht mechanically sound and ready to put to sea can be a daunting challenge for a new owner. This is where the owner learns the real value of using the right broker.
Many years working with the various marine trades needed to accomplish all of these items in a timely and cost effective manner and being personally involved supervising countless refits and repairs has provided Brad with the experience needed to ensure his clients are treated fairly by the sub-contractors. Brad ensures that his clients are out on the water enjoying the boat rather than having it sitting dockside or hauled out in the yard. The variety of ways in which an owner can take possession of a vessel and knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each choice and how it applies differently to each buyers personal circumstances can make a drastic difference in financing, taxes, insurance, and crewing requirements, and this is an area in which Brad has had years of experience.
Whether a client chooses Foreign Flag Registry offshore and enters the United States on a Cruising Permit, forms a Delaware Corporation and has a U.S. Documented Vessel, or simply goes with Home State Registration and Title, can impact every other decision related to buying the boat. The proof in this is the many repeat clients and personal referrals Brad has had throughout his career, and the many times he has sold the same yacht to the second, third, or fourth owner.
The internet has changed the yacht sales industry just as it has almost every other business, but Brad says what still matters most to his clients is the personal attention to their needs, honesty in every aspect of the relationship, being on time, and being treated respectfully. Although we deal with each other remotely via email and telephone more often than not, what still matters most are the time honored values recognized by every conscious individual.