The ‘season’ is here and this year the Virgin Islands have been the destination of choice for many mega yachts of the rich and famous. And I don’t just mean your average 200’ stink pot but rather the ultimate in floating luxury like Paul Allen’s Octopus and Larry Ellison’s Rising Sun.
Charlie is often out on the water with sailing students and when they pass by one of these monoliths in the ‘A’ class of absolute luxury, Charlie opines that these vessels are purely ego symbols of the moneyed people, take no skill to get from A to B and, in fact, deplete the worlds resources at an interminable rate, pollute our environment, emit nasty, harmful fluorocarbons and make it known that there is a huge gap between the haves and the have-nots. Nods of agreement at this ugly excess do not stop visitors reaching for their cameras to record the fact that they are rubbing shoulders with the super rich.
The 415’ Octopus boasts two helicopters and a ten-man submarine. A crew of sixty is needed to run the ship, man the toys and pamper the guests. Some are reportedly ex Navy Seals. The sub, that sleeps eight, can stay underwater for two weeks. Octopus has a full size basket-ball court, gym, cinema and numerous other facilities.
The whole package cost a meager 200 million dollars and running costs are an annual 20 million. What perhaps is most astonishing is that owner Paul Allen could afford at least another ten of these fully loaded toys without batting an eyelid – he’s reportedly worth 16 billion dollars.
The most relevant fact, though, is that your average person with a thirty-something foot sailboat can have just as much fun, more sense of achievement and a closer commune with nature than a pampered guest on a super yacht. Sailing through the tropics, wind in your sails, compass and chart at the ready, and a zillion anchorages to choose from make for unparalleled pleasure. And snorkeling alongside a coral reef beats watching it from a submarine, any day. And don’t forget – on a hot, tropical afternoon your ice cold beer tastes just as good as his does.