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My Life In Boats: Carlos NúÑez on refitting Kontiki Wayra

20 December 2023 • Written by Grace Trofa

All my life I have lived by the sea in Manta, Ecuador’s fourth- largest city. Manta is the tuna capital of the eastern Pacific Ocean, and my father founded our family tuna company 30 years ago. Growing up, I was always on the water, spending time with my uncles on their small fishing boats or enjoying watersports. I went to college in New Orleans to study economics and business and when I graduated in 1999, I returned to Manta to work in the family business. Later my father bought tuna boats, and I managed the fleet; I worked with him for 20 years.

Credit: Getty images

One day, five years ago, while looking for solutions for our tuna business, I saw a big yacht in a shipyard in the port of Guayaquil. The boat was previously used for scuba diving but had been abandoned for years. At that time, I already had an idea to cruise along the coast in a catamaran, but when I saw the yacht, I thought I could go bigger and had the idea to restore it and start a charter business. It was a big change in my life, a challenge, so I talked to my family and they said, “If you want to do this, we support you.”

Carlos Núñez refitted a dive boat into Kontiki Wayra, which charters through Edmiston. Highlights of trips in Ecuador include encounters with native communities, humpback whales and manta rays

I had always wanted to do something in the yachting industry. I started following the industry many years ago, believe it or not, when I bought my first issue of BOAT International at Miami airport. At 39 metres, Kontiki Wayra is big for my first boat, but as they say, go big or go home. We have nine guest cabins and 13 crew members. She has had a complete refit and redesign for yachting purposes. My wife, Soledad, studied interior design in Barcelona, and she took care of all the beautiful details in the interior.

Our tropical itinerary takes guests along the coast of Ecuador to explore unspoiled places and connect with the native communities. Accompanied by local guides, travelers learn about their crafts and traditions; we visit a cacao farm where trees are 125 years old, spend time on pristine beaches and explore small islands. Each morning dawns in a new location. From January to June, we will move the yacht to Costa Rica where we will offer the same type of immersion travel. But from June to December, we are in Ecuador to witness amazing natural wonders: the humpback whales come from the south to mate and give birth, and the giant oceanic manta rays, which can grow to 30ft, mate near Isla de la Plata in that season.

Credit: Getty images

Our dream is to have a bigger fleet. If all dreams are free, then you are free to dream. So far it has been the greatest experience of my life. I dedicated many years to the tuna industry, traveling the world and I loved it. That experience gave me all the tools I need to live better and be wiser, and I now enjoy every bit of every day.

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