Every month, owners from around the world tell us what they have been up to, where they have been cruising and what is next on the itinerary for their beloved vessels...
Yacht Gigi Length 50m Year 2010 Location Florida
You’re redeveloping Walker’s Cay. How’s it coming along?
Walker’s is coming along nicely. Of course, we’ve had to overcome hurricanes and global pandemics and crazy supply-chain challenges but I’m proud to say that we’ve finished the new and improved marina. The floating dock system is state-of-the-art. And for the first time in history, the marina can now accommodate six to eight yachts up to 60 metres long and with a draught up to 4.3 metres. We’ve had a steady stream of big yachts in here since we opened the marina and we’re currently getting ready to welcome 45 large sportfishing boats, and a few celebrities that’ll be coming to our second annual Walker’s Cay Invitational Blue Marlin fishing tournament from 18 to 21 May. We’re still not fully open, but new structures are going up all the time. The chapel will be open for the tournament and we’ll be announcing future openings soon
How long have you spent on Gigi this season? How is the fleet running?
After celebrating the birth of our third grandchild and spending the holidays at home in Dallas, we’ve been aboard Gigi as much as we can. Axis is our 55.3-metre support vessel, which is equipped with a submarine, a small plane and a massive dive centre, which we use for underwater exploration of the waters around Walker’s. And since I love to fish and I’m a big Viking fan, we’ve had a 52 Express, a 68, and we just bought an 80-footer [24 metre] with an enclosed bridge to fish offshore. The fleet also includes our well-loved SeaVee 39CC for inshore fishing, and several flats boats because Walker’s is the fishing Mecca where “the bonefish meet the billfish”. Gigi was actually struck by lightning last year and that completely fried all the electronics and systems. However, the good people at Safe Harbor Rybovich in West Palm Beach fixed everything with all-new electronics, so we feel like we dodged a bullet there. Axis has been good but a problem with one of the stabiliser fins did force us to take her out of commission for a while.
Have you done many interesting sub dives recently?
The Triton was getting its five-year inspection at the end of last season, but it’s been busy since we got it back. Of course, we need the weather to co-operate but we’re planning on exploring some interesting new sites later this season
Have you bought any new tools for Axis?
We’re always upgrading the tools in the fleet. And since we have a big season of exploration work planned, we’ve upgraded our 28ft-long [8.5-metre] military-grade RIB built by Fluid Watercraft. It’s called Chuck Norris because it’s just so damn tough! I’m also looking into investing in an ROV that can help us easily see what’s going on at our various dive sites too. Stay tuned
Owner of Excelerate Z
Length 28.1m Year 2006 Location French Riviera
You run a tech company – is the boat brimming with all the latest gadgets?
This [situation] most definitely allows us to incorporate some of the tech used by our first responder clients. As such, this year will see Excelerate Z fully equipped with unique solutions to enhance onboard pleasure, entertainment and safety
How long do you get to spend on board each season?
It really does depend on how much time I need to put into our Excelerate Marine business in France. But Covid has taught us to work differently, and If I can run my business successfully from home, I can run it successfully from anywhere. This includes from Excelerate Z
Where is your favourite place in the Med?
We don’t always look at the places Excelerate Z visits through the same eyes as a charter guest, but it’s difficult not to fall in love with places such as Portofino – one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited
How is Excelerate Z running?
Historically, our focus has always been on upgrading the tech on board. We are able to use it as a “test bed” and I suspect it gives us the best connectivity of any yacht this size. We’ve also completely upgraded the helm station technology with glass bridges, which both helped our captain and improved the safety and operational effectiveness of the yacht. All work was conducted by Excelerate Marine engineers who do this sort of thing day-in day-out with clients’ yachts
Did you have any work done on her last winter?
Yes, we had reached the point where a major refit had become necessary to enhance her desirability as a charter yacht, and to gain repeat business, which thankfully we are seeing. We also took the opportunity to reposition servers, modems and routers to improve accessibility, cooling and performance. A top-to-bottom refurbishment has been completed along with new lighting everywhere and new soft furnishings, tableware, bedding and even crew uniforms
Do you have a favourite water toy?
This changes as one gets older. I would love to say jet skis and Seabobs but alas no more. We’ve just purchased two new Seabobs, however, as I know they’re a must-have for any charter boat
Owner of G2
Length: 39m Year: 2009/2019 Location: Auckland
You made it to New Zealand! How did your sailing yacht perform on her Pacific crossing?
As a warm-up we had some fabulous cruising in French Polynesia followed by the 12-day sail from Bora Bora to Opua in New Zealand. By Southern Pacific standards it was fairly tame but still felt pretty full-on for a number of days – it certainly tested our sea legs. G2 did not disappoint: her performance in light winds was as impressive as it was in stronger winds
What was the most memorable part of the crossing?
The first part of the trip. We left Bora Bora under a full moon. It doesn’t get much better than being on night watch, sailing at 11 to 15 knots with the sea rushing past and the moon and stars above you
Did you stay on board for the passages?
Yes, in total we spent six weeks on board, initially cruising in French Polynesia as we waited for our entry permit to New Zealand. No hardship, some fabulous cruising, diving and hiking, followed by the delivery to New Zealand and a week or so there. In the end we ran out of time and really had to get back home
If you could recommend one place, which would it be?
Sadly we did not see much of New Zealand as the country was still in a partial lockdown and very restrictive in terms of movement. So it would have to be our diving in the Tuamotu Islands such as Rangiroa, Arutua and Fakarava, only matched by Cocos Island in Costa Rica at the beginning of last year
What work are you having done on her in Auckland?
It’s a fairly extensive yard period at Orams. We are having the hull painted and are improving the environmental credentials by replacing the generators in combination with a custom-designed exhaust system, and extending the battery bank to be able to run the boat in hybrid mode. We are also doing a long list of more standard maintenance work
Which route will you take to get back to Europe?
We have yet to finalise our plans but I expect that we will sail back via Fiji and the Marquesas Islands with a view to G2 returning to Europe by the end of the year
Owner of Asteria
Length: 49m Year: 1970 Location: The Bahamas
Asteria is a tough, go-anywhere explorer, but you’ve been cruising the calmer waters of the Bahamas. How did you find it?
Well, we were not expecting to discover such a beautiful place. It’s so easy in terms of logistics, being very close to Miami. We did an amazing dive with a great hammerhead shark at Bimini; we then cruised down to the Exumas. The Exumas are very beautiful, similar to Polynesia but obviously without the wildlife in the water and the depth of the South Pacific. The beach and landscape are phenomenal. We spent about two weeks on board
Did you have many other encounters with the local fauna?
The main encounter was the hammerhead shark, and many nurse sharks. Then there were the iguanas on Iguana Island and our kids loved the wild pigs in the Exumas
What are your cruising plans for 2022?
We are debating options. We would love to go to Greenland and then the Northwest Passage but unfortunately at this stage it looks like Canada will not open the borders because of Covid-19 restrictions. Our back-up plan could be Svalbard. We could also try to do both
How is Asteria running? And what are the challenges of owning a tough old classic like her?
Asteria is really a very solid boat; we absolutely love her. For her size she offers so many possibilities – long cruises, large tenders and safety. But she is an old lady so she needs attention!
Owner of Dream
Length: 60m Year: 2001 Location: Florida
How was your transit of the Panama Canal? Any issues?
We joined the boat after the canal as we had done that experience before. It’s a very interesting thing to do once
What made you want to explore Costa Rica?
My wife and I love to discover new places with our boat. After spending three years in the Pacific we wanted to explore Central America
Is it the paradise people say it is?
For us, yes. As we like to cruise in areas that have few people and few other boats it was extraordinary. It is still unspoiled and we loved the rainforest. If you are looking for shopping and nightlife you will be disappointed
Any memorable encounters with wildlife?
On land we saw howler, capuchin and spider monkeys, and many beautiful species of birds. Also, large crocodiles, snakes, colourful frogs and extraordinary insects such as leaf-cutting ants
It looks like you’ve been exploring offshore too – what did you find out there?
There is great snorkelling, and we saw sharks, sea turtles, a variety of reef fish and spinner dolphins, and even humpback whales breaching
What’s next for Dream?
We are thinking of Belize before we go to Italy for a couple of charters, and we will use the boat several weeks in the Med this summer
Owner of Globas
Length 42.8m Year 2018 Location Palma
You’re selling Globas...
That’s right. My partner in Globas is going to buy a bigger boat and I’m going back to sailing. I’ll sell Globas first and then go hunting for a yacht. With the brokerage market the way it is, I’m hoping she’ll sell quickly. She is hull No 4, so all the kinks had been ironed out by the time she hit the water, and we’ve maintained her well
Will you build again?
I’m not interested in building – I don’t want to wait three years, so I’ll be scouring the brokerage market. I love Mondango 3, which is a beautiful boat that’s currently for sale, but it’s too big for our needs. We might end up around the 45-metre mark, like my previous sailing yacht Salperton IV. If we were to build, though, I love the look of those Malcolm McKeon BlackCat catamarans. I hope someone commissions one of those
Did you enjoy the motor yacht experience?
Very much so. It was like having a massive luxurious apartment, but to be honest, we just found ourselves sitting at anchor drinking! When we had a yacht, we often did two sails a day when the wind got up, and then maybe we’d go on an evening cruise. I miss it that activity and I’m looking forward to getting back into sailing