Sailing with Charlie: Boatshows

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

It’s that time of year again – for annual boatshows – where yachts strut their stuff and convince the brokers who book them that there is only one yacht that can provide the vacation experience of a lifetime – Yours.

For weeks before the event crews are seen maintaining, cleaning, varnishing and polishing. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh varnish; it says ‘nautical luxury’. Yacht interiors are spruced up with new and colorful upholstery, linens, curtains and cushions. When all is spick and span the water-toys are attractively displayed. Photographs are exhibited showing happy guests being dragged behind your fast dinghy in an inflatable ring, waving happily; sliding down a chute, perhaps, or wobbling along on stand-up paddleboards. Some crews offer a photographic diary of the cruise, or even a short video – great advertising!  Your guests will definitely want good photographs to send home immediately by social media to make sure friends are envious, “Look, we’re having so much fun here – and you’re not.”

Brokers will be looking for crews that will be compatible with their clients, so you need to get all your answers right. You may be questioned on how you would interact with certain guests. If you’re catering to honeymoon couples then discretion is important. If you were on a romantic honeymoon cruise and your new deckie blurted out, “Last night I was up checking the anchor… Did you hear that thumping noise? It went on for half the night.” This would be embarrassing if the guests were within earshot. If you insisted on playing a Bach concerto whilst the eight guys on their bachelor party were swilling beer and waiting to go to the rave at the beach bar then you might not be enhancing their evening.

Food is important. Crewed charters are expensive so great cuisine is imperative. Dedicated chefs will enter a contest, which will include hors d’oeuvre, entrée and dessert. There are things to remember here because professional chefs will be judging your submissions. They will examine appearance (creativity and originality is important), ingredients (local ingredients get points), texture (whether cooked properly) and, of course, flavor.

Here are a few clues: Before the judges arrive at your boat, have cool glasses of Planter’s Punche ready to serve and don’t be stingy with the rum. Engage the judges with mouth-watering descriptions of your dishes and when a bit of merriment becomes evident (happy judges are favorable judges) offer your dishes for tasting. Portions should not be huge but must look original, elegant and appetizing, like an edible Picasso painting perhaps; garnish is important. Dishes must be delectable and perfectly cooked. You can’t get away with rubbery, overcooked offerings dressed up with drops, blobs and swirls of doubtfully edible goo –this doesn’t fool anyone. A sprig of mint, a raspberry on a chocolate creation, a truffle on a pate – these are more appropriate. With a bit of luck, you’ll win a prize and ensuing photos can be added to your web site and brochure.

For a solid three days brokers will be quizzing you on every detail and taking copious notes. There are parties, theme days, happy hours … Make sure you attend them all and suck up to every broker around. The more you’re in their faces the more likely they will remember you – but a word of warning, don’t drink too much, no politics or religion, and watch the dirty jokes. The idea is to leave the brokers with the feeling that, ‘Wow … yachties have the most fun of anyone on the planet!’

Finally, it’s all over. Sit back and relax and wait for the deposits to come rolling in.

 

Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

 

Julian_Putley
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.