For those of you who have sailed the lower Great Lakes, Lake Superior demands respect. Known for its stunning scenery and diverse weather conditions that can challenge even experienced sailors, the bumper stickers sold at the Duluth Yacht Club pretty much say it all – “Sail a Real Lake”. It was here that Captain Debora Radtke fell in love with being on the water at a young age.

Today, founder and director of American Yacht Agents based in Florida, Debora and her team provide marine agency services to the yachting industry from Palm Beach to Miami and all the way down the Keys. (They have even taken care of boats as far as Charleston.) And if you speak to anyone who was her student during her days as a sailing instructor, or who was part of her crew when she became a yacht captain, they will tell you she is very hands on.

Debora Radtke

“All told, I was on board for about 16 years and did my own engineering on a few of the boats I worked on,” Debora told us. As a result of that broad-based experience, Debora is perfectly placed to support the ever-complex nature of the superyacht industry today. “I understand the needs of every department, and that helps me greatly in supporting the captains and crew as they prepare for season, do a quick turnaround between charters, or need to anticipate technical needs before doing the crossing,” Debora continued.

Having an experienced captain shoreside to provide agency support was appealing to several captains from the very start with her first client being a 90-meter superyacht. Today she is on speed dial for several well-known yacht builders too. “I also do a lot of support for the warranty teams who come over. Builders who send an after sales team to support a vessel need the contacts and vendors locally to make sure things are running properly and I work closely with these warranty teams.”

AYSS’s mission statement impressed me, and it provides a level of credibility being part of the best in the industry. I know if I have questions or issues, there are a number of member agents I can call to provide me with advice and guidance, and we frequently pass vessels back and forth with other members.

Debora’s “think-outside-the-box” creative approach to assisting her clients allowed her to identify and create a partnership in Palm Beach which was featured in MegayachtNews this past December. “I had a large yacht in Miami that wanted to go up to Palm Beach, and there was no dockage for a yacht its size. So I started to look for a berth and found a deep water one with 30 feet of draft on the north side of the Port of Palm Beach. While it is part of the commercial port, the northern area has its own entrance, and you don’t have to deal with the same issues of going into a commercial port like Port Everglades,” Debora explained.

Berth One in the Port of Palm Beach

Next year at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, don’t miss Debora’s seminar on cruising the Great Lakes. She talks about the ins and outs of cruising the Saint Lawrence seaway which is in her words “incredible” and no doubt with beluga whales and beautiful fjords to be enjoyed.

A warm welcome to Debora and her team at American Yacht Agents to AYSS!