Every month, superyacht owners reveal where they are in the world, how they're dealing with Covid-related disruption and share their future plans.
Inside the adventures of superyacht owners around the world
Owner of Star of the Sea
You’ve been assisting after the La Soufriere eruption on St Vincent. How did you first become aware of it?
The sheer size of the ash cloud and height of it was daunting, following live news reports of the evacuation of the northern part of St Vincent and calls from our hotel staff to assist with housing and support of their family members made it clear it was serious.
Could you see the ash cloud from Bequia?
Yes, reaching an estimated height of 50,000ft, despite a distance of some 40km to the volcano, it was very clear. Thankfully Bequia and the Grenadine islands have been largely unaffected. However in following eruptions some of the ash cloud reached Bequia and other Grenadine islands and more blew towards Barbados. A layer of ash covered everything, and it remained on the ground and on roofs unless you brushed it away or removed it. It sank to the bottom in our swimming pools which had to be emptied and cleaned. Cleaning of our hotel rooms and all outside areas and roofs is still ongoing. Star of the Sea used its fire pumps to wash off the entire yacht after its various trips to St Lucia, where it had to pass close to the erupting volcano. There was minimum visibility in very dark grey dust, and all the doors and windows had to be closed and sealed.
How did you deploy Star of the Sea to assist?
We were contacted to assist with transporting first response personnel who flew into Canouan with supplies and aid, followed by evacuation trips northwards past La Soufriere to St Lucia. The yacht returned with more than four tonnes of bottled water and various other supplies for displaced persons. The captain and crew have been absolutely fantastic throughout.
Is the danger over for the island?
Eruptions continue venting ash. At the time of writing, the humanitarian needs are extremely high. Luckily the Grenadine islands of Bequia, Mustique and Canouan are largely unaffected. Volcano specialists have noted the volcano has now entered a period with fewer and less explosive eruptions as magma, ash and steam can more freely surface without sudden eruptions. Although no one really knows and after a few days of calm there was an eruption a few days ago with a 8km high ash cloud, this time passing west over the Caribbean Sea. All Vincentians are praying for the volcano to go back to sleep so everyone can return (circa 13,000 persons were displaced) to whatever is left of their homes. We will continue to assist where we can, along with the many aid organisations now on the scene.
What are you having done to the yacht at Royal Huisman?
The major project is a PLC upgrade as the previously installed PLCs have been end-of-lifed. This is our first return to the shipyard since launch so an opportunity to do some works that are best done by the builders.
The yacht is known for having one of the first hybrid drives ever installed on a superyacht – how is it performing after more than a decade?
It is working very well and the hybrid drivetrain has recently been successfully overhauled. We plan to replace the battery bank this year after 13 years of reliable service.
Have you added any more sustainable solutions over the years?
Nothing major as space constraints on a sailboat limit the possibilities. We would love to have fuel cells instead of diesel engines and generators as this would make the most difference, but this still seems a ways off; maybe such an upgrade will be possible at the 20 year survey in 2028-9.
When will the work be finished?
Hopefully by June 1.
You’re then headed to Norway – why did you decide to cruise there?
We loved cruising Fjordland in southwest New Zealand and wanted to see and compare Norway. We have been mostly in the Pacific and are close by in Holland so this is a rare chance to visit.
Owner of Voyager III
What attracted you to the Nordhavn?
A Nordhavn was something I had always wanted. There were several attractions, most importantly the way the brand seems to hold value. Not forgetting cruising economy – my model, the N78, has a range of 3,000 miles. Seakeeping and ease of operation are other factors. With five control stations I can manoeuvre on my own and cruising with two people is not an issue provided the sectors are not too long.
What is it like to cruise in Fiji?
It’s a great cruising destination. There are over 300 islands with most having superb anchorages, and unlike some of the other Pacific island groups just about all the recognised anchorages are within enclosed lagoons and as a consequence the water is clear and smooth. One can cruise all year but caution should be exercised during the cyclone season which runs from October through to April. During the remainder of the year south-easterly trade winds prevail with generally milder temperatures and less rainfall.
Do you have a favourite island?
Some of the best and easiest to access are in the Yasawa chain, situated on the leeward side of the main island of Viti Levu not far from Vuda or Port Denarau marinas. All the 20-plus islands are surrounded by white sand beaches, are in sheltered water with short distances between. Famous amongst them are Nanuya Levu where Blue Lagoon staring Brooke Shields was filmed and the famous Sawa I Lau underwater caves.
How far into the Pacific have you explored?
One of the reasons Voyager III was acquired was to further explore. Alas Covid-19 has temporarily put a stop to this. In previous boats though I have travelled to Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu (formerly Ellis Islands), Vanuatu and most recently New Caledonia. The Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Tokelau are on the wish list!
What would be your advice for superyachts visiting the region?
Plan on spending from May to September in the Fiji group and the remaining part of the year in Australia or New Zealand for the cyclone season. For ease of access to great cruising clear at Vuda or Denarau, or if you’re feeling more adventurous head to Savusavu or Suva which are closer to the more remote Lau group. Note also that Fiji has introduced the Blue Lane protocol whereby time spent travelling to Fiji from the last port counts towards the 14-day quarantine period, the balance of which can be spent on board in a designated space.