Broker of the Month: Kent Chamberlain of Merle Wood & Associates

Kent Chamberlain of Merle Wood & Associates - Broker of the Month

YATCO’s broker of the month series examines the unique life experiences that brought these brokers into the world of yachting, who influenced them, and what they seek to change in the industry.

With 42 years in the business, Kent Chamberlain has owned and managed several yacht brokerages, including Chamberlain Yachts International since 2002.  He is now the CEO of Merle Wood & Associates. Read below on what brought Kent to yachting, who influences him, and what he considers the most interesting sale of his career. 

Everything You Need to Know About YATCO’s Broker of the Month Kent Chamberlain

How did you get your start in yachting?

When I was younger, I used to race small sailboats on Long Island for fun and work on bigger ones during the summer. At 22, I began my career working for a sailboat dealer in San Diego.

When I was younger, I used to race small sailboats on Long Island for fun and work on bigger ones during the summer. At 22, I began my career working for a sailboat dealer in San Diego.

Within a few years, I started San Diego Yacht Sales, and as business grew, so did the size of the yachts that I was selling. Eventually, I was practically commuting to Ft. Lauderdale, so I decided to move there.  

Is there anyone in particular who influences you – someone in the industry that you look up to, and why?

Not coincidentally, the person who had the greatest influence on my career as a yacht broker was my first boss in the business, Jack Dorsee. He was knowledgeable, inspirational, and a highly effective communicator, plus he was a really cool guy.

What do you enjoy most about the yachting industry – and what do you wish you could change?

This is a really fun way to make a living. I’m on and around the water, traveling to beautiful ports around the world, in and out of some of the finest yachts on the planet, and my clients are often one of the best at what they do (and interesting to be around). That is a pretty fun job. As far as improvements in the industry, although this might sound like false flattery directed to YATCO (since you are publishing this article!) I would like to see just one MLS.  This would dramatically improve searches and research when working with buyers and sellers and reduce the number of ghost listings that your primary competitor does not appear to monitor.

As far as improvements in the industry, I would like to see just one MLS.  This would dramatically improve searches and research when working with buyers and sellers and reduce the number of ghost listings that your primary competitor does not appear to monitor.

Tell us about your greatest accomplishment.

I’m not sure about my greatest accomplishment, but one of the craziest deals that I have ever been involved in was when I owned the International Yacht & Jet Show in Nassau. I got a call from a casino manager at Atlantis saying that he was going to bring one of their “whales” and his entourage to the show. I met them at the entrance and showed them a few boats. When we boarded one of John Staluppi’s new 118’ Millenniums – without even walking inside – the buyer said: “I’ll take it”. With the flip of a coin between my new client and Mr. Staluppi, the last $300,000 was settled.

One of the craziest deals that I have ever been involved in was when I owned the International Yacht & Jet Show in Nassau. I got a call from a casino manager at Atlantis saying that he was going to bring one of their “whales” and his entourage to the show. I met them at the entrance and showed them a few boats. When we boarded one of John Staluppi’s new 118’ Millennium – without even walking inside – the buyer said: “I’ll take it”. With the flip of a coin between my new client and Mr. Staluppi, the last $300,000 was settled.

Within a few hours, $7,000,000 was transferred from his casino account to Mr. Staluppi’s. But that wasn’t the most exciting part of this deal. When I was walking off the boat with the client Mr Staluppi called me back into the salon. He asked me what commission I thought I was entitled to. I told him that I felt a normal new boat sales commission of 5% was appropriate, but he informed me that I was not going to get 5%. When I protested he poked his finger in my chest and said, “Kent, you’re not getting 5%, you’re getting 6%.” I told Mr. Staluppi that I was going to tell this story to every person who ever utters his name. And I have!

Founding the Superyacht Network

I also should mention the Superyacht Network. Over the years, I’ve owned several yacht brokerages and dealerships, was Sales Manager at Bradford’s, GM at Merle Wood & Associates, Vice President at Westship Yachts, owner of Chamberlain Yachts for 21 years, and now CEO of Merle Wood & Associates, but my proudest accomplishment is having created and run the Superyacht Network for the past twenty-six years. This is a somewhat clandestine group of (mostly) superyacht brokers who meet regularly for dinner and discuss industry news and rumors, recent sales, and new listings. It provides lots of useful information for the group and is always fun and entertaining. If I have a legacy in this industry, it’s probably this organization.

What are some of the challenges you come across at work, and how do you approach them?

Regardless of the industry, sales are always a roller coaster ride. No matter how good you are at what you do, there will be difficulties and it can be tricky to manage finances. It took me many years to realize that those big commissions were often followed by long droughts. In the yacht business, the ups are higher, and the downs are lower than in most other commissioned jobs, but it’s always a thrill ride, and I love it.

In the yacht business, the ups are higher, and the downs are lower than in most other commissioned jobs, but it’s always a thrill ride, and I love it.

What is your favorite yacht currently listed for sale and why?

My favorite yacht currently for sale is the 238’ Austal, SERENITY. Not just because she’s my listing, but because she is unique and a fantastic value.  She was completely refitted and rebuilt in 2017 and shows extremely well.  A large yacht, SERENITY accommodates 28 guests and two staff in 16 staterooms, plus 31 crew members.  She has a massive full-beam main salon, zero-speed stabilizers, a movie theatre, day spa, fitness center, and nail and hair salon to name a few.  Equally important is what she can be bought for – although listed as “Price on Application”, that price is far more reasonable than one might assume.  The bottom line on why she’s my favorite yacht for sale? She is a very unique yacht with a beautiful interior and can be bought for a bargain!

All Brokers in our Broker of the Month Series:


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