Trends are changing in the yacht chartering industry. Every time Charlie captains a charter or does an instructional cruise one of his responsibilities is to make sure the crew/guests are fully aware of how to operate all the systems. Toilet operation is one of the most important so no nasty blockages happen and sufficient pumping is done to avoid obnoxious effluvia (posh term for stink).
Water consumption is another problematic issue. Most tourists with homes in affluent western countries are not aware that water is a precious commodity and no more so than on a boat where supplies can be limited. Charlie goes to great lengths to explain that boat showers should be taken thus: turn on the water to wet yourself and then turn the water OFF. Soap up, wash your body and then turn the water ON to rinse off. Then, before complaining that the water isn’t draining away, push the button to activate the pump to drain the water out of the sump. Sounds simple, but old habits die hard.
Electricity usage is another issue. Every morning tourists walk out of their cabin, often groggy from the night before, and leave all the lights and fans on and the hatches open. On a boat this lack of awareness has consequences; at home not so much.
Anyway, Charlie has noticed many positive changes in the latest charter boats. First, catamarans are now the vessels of choice. They are designed like a condo, so tourists are immediately impressed. The cabins are huge, generators are standard, air conditioning is supplied throughout and water makers are fitted and are now easy to operate and more trouble free than ever before – hell, even the ‘electric’ heads are flushed with fresh water. Sails go up and down with electric winches, shallow draft enables getting closer to the beach and deck space allows for more lounging and fun in the sun. Twin diesels get you to windward so you can avoid using that risky mains’l and you can sail downwind with only a jib and maybe an engine ticking over just to help. Of course, these ‘pizza boxes’ are ugly as sin – but who cares – sailing these days is all about comfort and convenience; if you want beauty go and look at a Herreshoff in a boat museum.
Recently Charlie captained a 52ft Lagoon for a week and when he introduced the guests to the boat, cooled down to a nice 70 degrees, with all the mod cons explained, there were oohs and aahs of delight – “no flat batteries, electric toilets, air con 24/7 and even an ice maker,” gushed Charlie with confidence.
“But where’s the bar?” queried the owner’s wife.
“The bar?” Charlie opened a cupboard where wines and spirits were stored and then pointed to the ice maker. “There’s unlimited water with this efficient water maker too,” said Charlie, trying to deflect a possible complaint.
Unfortunately the ‘primitive’ bar arrangements were brought up several times during the week. Charlie now has a recommendation for the 2017 model; a dedicated area in the cockpit with beverages on tap: one a cool white wine, another, a full bodied red, and lastly, ice cold lager. Charlie has already anticipated the next complaint, “Where’s the vodka martini?”
Answer: “That’ll be on the 2018 model.”
Charlie was recently invited to be a yacht broker.
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.