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My life in boats: Bruce Thompson, owner of 39.6m yacht Antares

My life in boats: Bruce Thompson, owner of 39.6m yacht Antares

Bruce Thompson tells Grace Trofa how the adventures on board his 39.6m Antares have profoundly changed his life...

My family and I are boat people. I have a 36ft Yellowfin, a Hell’s Bay flats boat, a 12.8 metre Cigarette Huntress, a Carolina skiff and a 1944 50ft workboat that I restored and play with on Chesapeake Bay. My father gave me a rowboat when I was seven years old and I would row out on the bay to set my crab and minnow pots. I sold crabs for 50 cents uncooked and $1.25 a dozen cooked – that began my love for the water.

I started by buying small, centre console boats, then a 16.5 metre Fountain but I wanted to be able to travel to the islands. I bought a 23.7 metre Hatteras next, but I thought the crew was a little too close for me; I’m a single guy and I need my space. My business partner, who shares my love for boats, agreed we needed a bigger boat for privacy, so we bought a 33.5 metre Broward, but then we decided we wanted a yacht to travel the world.

Three years ago, we bought a 39.6 metre Westport and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. Antares is fast and comfortable. We’ve logged 36,000 nautical miles since we bought the boat. I really loved the Med, in particular Croatia and Montenegro. I would go back to Alaska tomorrow, and the San Blas islands were one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

We’ve had the same crew with us for all these voyages and they are like family. I am in the hospitality business and I know that if the help is not having a good time, neither will the guests. We recently restored the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. We spent so much money on the project that I figured the only way we would make any of it back was if we put a small-batch distillery in the hotel. We call it Tarnished Truth because there are so many stories about the guests that frequented the hotel, but who knows what the truth is?

Antares is my only escape and a great place to spend time with family and friends. Every year we dock at Soho House for Art Basel in Miami and I have a big party. But I really love the traveling by boat the most. One time in Alaska we watched as a 1,000-pound bear climbed straight up the side of the glacier. Another time we woke up to find 20 whales surrounding the boat forming a bubble net to trap fish.

In the San Blas Islands, families in dugout canoes sold us their lobsters and fish at sunrise. We ended up going to their village where they cooked. I could never have imagined being able to have these experiences – I came from no money. This boat has changed my life in profound ways.

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