Real Ships, owned by Joe Johnson, is a builder of custom boats located on the Gulf Coast in lower Alabama. Begun in the 1990s, Real Ships specializes in yachts with all-steel hulls with custom interiors. The company’s shipyard in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, features a state-of-the-art CAD-CAM design team. This design team works closely with customers to either modify one of Real Ships’ existing layouts, or to draw up a completely new design. Real Ships can also construct a design from an outside company. Construction uses plate steel for the hull and aluminum for the pilothouse, bonded by a patented DuPont bimetal strip. The production team at Real Ships includes skilled welders, designers, and former ship pilots and captains. Real Ships focuses exclusively on custom yacht production, not as a “sidelight” to other production lines.
Pricing for a Real Ships’ yacht varies according to the customization chosen, but a typical 77-foot model costs an estimated 3.5 to 4 million dollars. A used model may cost anywhere from a million dollars upwards.
- All-steel construction.
- Custom designs.
- Durable, luxurious build.
- Design is for durability and distance, not speed.
- Limited size range.
- Steel construction requires careful maintenance.
Real Ships features two basic lines, the Voyager and the Expedition series. However, each line is widely customizable, and no two finished yachts are the same. Real Ships also constructs yachts to other designs apart from the Voyager and Expedition series.
Real Ships resides in the center of the Gulf Coast shipbuilding industry, and takes full advantage of the technology and resources available. Their focus on custom yachts with all-steel construction does have certain limitations; Real Ships’ yachts focus more on durability and long-distance cruising than speed or flashy performance. Nor are they the grandest or largest yachts on the seas. However, Real Ships uses the latest technologies in paints, assembling, and design and has gained a reputation for quality construction. Their yachts are characterized by a low center of gravity and a long nautical range; Real Yachts hulls feature innovations such as keel “pods” which increase stability. The ability to fully customize the designs has made Real Ships a steady competitor in the custom yacht market; Real Ships is one of the only custom steel boat builders. In 2009, Real Ships followed a successful showing at an international boat show by expanding their representation into a foreign market, opening a dealership with Compass International in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Today, the company continues to constantly improve their designs and production methods, insuring that each new Real Ships yacht is better than the last.