The first superyacht I ever chartered was the three-masted schooner Friday Star (now Yamakay). It must have been 25 years ago and back then this boat was a big deal. It held the record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic under sail, or something like that. We took all the kids and the captain would hang the boom out the side and the kids would jump off it into the water. They’d also jump off the bow under sail, and grab a trailing rope in the water and haul themselves back on board, which, on reflection, seems a little risky – but also very cool. They thought it was the best fun ever. The captain was such a star I actually poached him to run my boats for years and years.
We’ve chartered all sorts of boats – big and small, sail and power. One of my golden memories is when we hired a boat in Australia. I wanted to be part of the armada that sits outside the harbour for the start of the Sydney to Hobart race. A few days later it was New Year’s Eve and I remember having far too much to drink on board as we were bobbing off Woolloomooloo Wharf (try saying that after a few beers). It turns out the guy bobbing next to us was Russell Crowe, but no one was trying to grab his autograph or anything. It was all very Australian and laid back.
We were at the wharf because one of my good friends – Neville Crichton (pictured above), who used to own the Feadship Como – owned an apartment there. Incidentally, he also owned the yacht that won the race that year, Alfa Romeo II, so he was in a very good mood.
A little north of Sydney is the Hawkesbury River, which is one of the most beautiful rivers anywhere. I was driving the charter boat and it’s here that my reputation for trashing tenders was born. The kids never let me forget it, which is fair as I was a complete idiot. I thought because we were on a river, it wouldn’t be tidal, so we tendered into shore one time to do a bit of shopping, and had something to eat, but when we came back to the beach – no tender. And I’m saying: “Someone’s nicked the tender!” This old fisherman turns up the next morning towing the thing. It had been taken with the tide and drifted about seven miles.
The thing people need to realise is chartering a boat doesn’t have to cost the earth – we’ve used companies like Sunsail and The Moorings. I would advise always going for one a little bigger than you think you need. There’s nothing worse than climbing all over one another on a boat. And take friends. There’s nothing like coming into a quiet harbour and setting the anchor, getting the barbecue on and having a little drink as the sun slowly sets. You can’t beat it.
And a piece of advice if you’re an owner thinking of making your own boat available for charter – don’t do it yourself. Get some representation. Unless you’ve got loads of time on your hands, it’s not worth the stress of getting contracts in place, making sure the money’s in the bank, working out the expenses, etc. Yes, brokers are expensive and you hate paying for it, but you get peace of mind. If you play it right, you can totally offset the running costs – and then all that’s keeping you awake at night is depreciation!
Eddie Jordan’s fee for this column has been donated to charity.