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On board 34.4m Sunseeker superyacht Settlement with Australian owner Michael Dempsey

18 August 2021• Written by Grace Trofa

Australian owner and founder of Ezidebit Michael Dempsey spends 10 weeks a year on board his 34.4 metre Sunseeker named Settlement, resulting in quite the adventure.

I am from Australia and, though I have always been involved with water activities and boats, my first foray into yachting was only five years ago when I bought a 19.4 metre Sunseeker. I liked the look and at that size, I naively thought I could drive it myself. When my then skipper told me about a 34.4 metre Sunseeker, my first reaction was, I don’t want another boat. But it looked good and so for the hell of it I put in an offer and it was accepted. The boat was in Antibes and though the surveyor gave me a good report, my wife and I figured we better fly over and check it out. The first question I get is always about the name, Settlement; let’s just say the second choice was No Prenup!

Dempsey is relatively new to superyachts
All images courtesy of Michael Dempsey

For our first season we stayed in the Med, followed by a season cruising the east coast of Australia. In 2019 we went to the South Pacific, Vanuatu and Fiji. Covid-19 kept us closer to home in 2020, cruising between the Gold Coast and the Whitsundays, which covers the southern Great Barrier Reef, Treasure Island and the northern Great Barrier Reef, stretching about 600 miles. For sheer natural beauty and sea life, you can’t compare the Great Barrier Reef. On a recent fishing trip 90 miles offshore on one of the outer reefs, we quickly caught a few fish; suddenly a large shark appeared and bang, just bit the fish off the line. That’s what it’s like out there.

Dempsey's family enjoying life on board

I grew up surfing, so we are always looking for surf out on the ledge of the Great Barrier Reef, but you do have a lot of our friends in the grey suits that come out of the deep; you’ve got to be a little bit careful. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, like the time I took my family crocodile spotting in Port Douglas. The engine on the tender overheated and our skipper got badly burned when he removed the radiator cap. He was quickly rescued by the crew on jet skis, but it left us adrift in the tender, floating dangerously close to the riverbank. I was never so happy to see the crew when they returned and towed us out.

Settlement has afforded Dempsey a whole host of new experiences

We like to go deep into little lagoons, so the first thing I did was install a 360-degree sonar. There is a lot of reef that doesn’t appear above the surface, but it protects you from bad weather. When you get a sunset out there, on the eastern side it will be pitch black and as you follow the sky up and over to the western side, you will see an amazing range of colors from black to blue where the sun has yet to set. You can’t see land, the ocean is all around you, and it is one of those life experiences that you can only do in a yacht like that and it’s very romantic.

Dempsey no longer lets his diary dictate what he does

I sold my business, Ezidebit, about six years ago and while I still have investments, I don’t let my diary dictate what I do. If I see a three- or four-day window and the wind is below 10 knots, I say “OK, we’re off.” Three times a year we go off heliskiing in Japan, New Zealand and Canada. My wife is also an adventure freak and I’m sure our children are following us as adventure seekers.

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