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Staff Interview: Bruce Hastie on Yachting on the Solent

We talk to Bruce Hastie, Finance and Insurance Manager, based at Ocean Village Marina, to find out more about yachting on the South Coast and Solent, and the yachting market today.

Tell us more about your boating background and what your role is today.
I started working in boat sales part-time in 1995 whilst I was at Southampton Institute. When I had finished my course, I decided that I would become a yacht broker and have worked in and around the Hamble River for the last 25 years. I have been with Princess Motor Yacht Sales for nearly six years; firstly as a New Boat Sales Executive and, in the last 12 months, undertaking a new role managing our Marine Finance and Insurance products. Financing a yacht purchase is becoming increasingly popular in today’s market, allowing customers to purchase their yacht with more flexibility.

Where is Princess Motor Yacht Sales located?
Swanwick Marina has been the home of Princess Motor Yacht Sales from the very beginning, however with the expansion of both the sales and service departments, additional space was required. Two years ago, we opened our new service facility in Saxon Wharf, Southampton and more recently a new sales office in Ocean Village. Ocean Village has seen significant investment in the last five years with extensive residential development and recently the five-star Harbour Hotel, all of which combined with the renewal of the pontoons in the marina makes Ocean Village a very popular destination for boat buyers and owners. A new sales office is also currently under construction at Swanwick Marina – this is due to open early next year.

Where would you recommend cruising to locally?
The Solent is popular largely due to its easy access from London and surrounding counties. It is also a great place to learn how to use a boat, with protected waters and great destinations. The Hamble River is simply the home of yachting on the south coast. Here we have a number of marinas, with popular destinations, including Lymington, and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Both offer lovely surroundings and busy towns with good restaurants. Our customers love The Hut in Colwell Bay, IoW; this is probably the most popular restaurant among local boat owners in the Solent. If you get the weather right, it can be better than the South of France!

Can you tell us about the current yachting market and the effect this has had on the South Coast?
Since the end of the first lockdown in May 2020, the marine market has been extremely strong. Boating in all forms has been an activity that has been possible throughout the pandemic whilst still adhering to government guidelines. Those who would have regularly travelled abroad are now seeking UK-based boating, and we are seeing a number of new owners join the Princess family too. As a result, several marinas on the south coast are now operating at full capacity.