Which crew are you?
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Territory: This year, despite a cautious emergence from the pandemic, demand for yachts in the Mediterranean “is off the charts”, says Jamie Edmiston, chief executive of luxury yacht brokers-charters Edmiston. In July, things reach critical mass – physical and social – in Italy, with Positano, the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Naples islands (Capri, of course, foremost among them) at its epicentre. Some of the less febrile table-hoppers anchor to the north, at Ponza, or south in the Aeolian islands above Sicily, where they do aperitivo barefoot on the terrace at La Sirena on Filicudi.
The boats: All of them. From classic white yachts built by Benetti, Heesen, Perini Navi, Feadship and others of their ilk, to restored vintage beauties (Altair III, the Jon Bannenberg-refitted 1974 expedition yacht owned by Tod’s chairman Diego Della Valle, is a habitual presence), to the sleek maxi sailing yachts – the Oysters, the Swan 120s and 98s, the Wallys – to, inevitably, an extravagant eyesore or two.
Must-have accessory: Accessories, plural. Toys of all stripes, interior and exterior, are de rigueur: jet skis, Flyboards and quite a few water slides. Some of the world’s most heralded designers have their way with these boats’ interiors, where gyroscopic wine cellars and cinemas are par for the course.
What to pack: Eres micro-bikinis and kaftans for her, Vilebrequin with collarless linen for him; a this-season Dior Book tote; Loro Piana cashmere for evenings (or, more original and kilometro zero, a hand-detailed shawl from Le Farella, on Capri); embroidered maxi skirts from Emporio Sirenuse in Positano; Alvaro leather sandals for both sexes.
Where they go: Favoured watering holes range from the blue-and-white elegance of Il Riccio on Capri to Villa Tre Ville (the hotel’s bar and restaurant, as opposed to the beach club) to Da Tommaso allo Scoglio in Nerano, owned by the De Simone family – where everyone wants to be Beppe De Simone’s best friend (he gives his home-grown tomatoes to his friends).
Who’s there: Who’s not? To borrow novelist Emily St John Mandel’s phrase, the Kingdom of Money descends on these seas in July, from Bernard Arnault (spotted lunching at Carlino, the elegant beach restaurant of Il San Pietro in Positano) to LeBron (they let him pick his own lobster at Lo Scoglio) – with oligarchs, American fund gurus and British aristos, various and sundry Kardashians, and scores of local industry tycoons in between.
Territory: The Subarctic – Svalbard (Norway), Greenland and Iceland; and, this year, Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands, north of Japan. The very committed – or just mega-loaded and supremely crewed – might undertake a navigation of the Northwest Passage; an increasing number of private charters make for the Arctic Circle each year, and despite Covid, 2021 is no exception.
The boats: “We’ve taken some basic Ibiza-style white yachts fairly high up, and they work fine,” says Geordie Mackay-Lewis, co-founder of UK-based private adventure outfitters Pelorus. “You see more of them in the Norwegian fjords than you used to.” For much of Greenland and anywhere north of Svalbard, though, “you need an ice-class vessel” in spring and autumn. Many of these are former industrial ice-breaking or naval patrol ships with super high-spec refits within their hulls; Mackay-Lewis and Edmiston both name-check Game Changer, a 72m support vessel spectacularly redone in 2020. The other star this season: La Datcha, a 77m, six-cabin new build from Damen (the expedition-class arm of Dutch builders Amels) that’s already in Kamchatka – and, according to Edmiston, is booked close to solid this summer.
Must-have accessory: A submersible (dude, yours doesn’t?); at least one scientist on board – major virtue signalling, plus the excellent value-add, should the family be along for the ride, of enlightening lectures of an evening.
What to pack: The highest-tech kit around; Arc’teryx is a perennial, along with sustainable makers (the Scandinavians are good for this: Norrøna, Helly Hansen, Houdini). Next-gen Garmin and Apple watches, and multiple telephoto lenses for the Hasselblads.
Where they go: No air-kissing on champagne terraces here. Shallow drafts, powerful launch boats and the by-now requisite on-board helicopters mean those who charter the top of the market gain access to the northern hemisphere’s great empties: tundra, mountaintops, ice floes and barely-if-ever-ridden waves.
Who’s there: A lot of Silicon Valley, interspersed with New York and London. UHNW alpha masters, basically, many of them with an inclination to better the state of the world (see: that onboard scientist) while conquering one of the few terrestrial frontiers left out there.
Territory: For surfing and scuba diving, Indonesia is still top of the list; Pelorus’s Mackay-Lewis notes there are almost 10 times as many airports across the country as there were 10 years ago, facilitating access. Committed surfers make for breaks both storied and obscure in the country’s far-western and -eastern reaches: the Telos and Mentawai islands, off Sumatra, and the coast of West Papua. Or G-Land, on eastern Java, where the heli can drop you for the morning if you’re more centrally located – say, en route to the Komodo Archipelago, which is where you may well be if you also 1) dive and/or 2) brought the family along. Indonesia’s corals are among the most pristine left on Earth, and June to August is prime season here, from Komodo east to Flores and into the Savu Sea. And then there’s French Polynesia. “It’s one of the first places to open [to the US] post-Covid, so it’s basically like bees to honey,” Mackay-Lewis says. “We’re seeing a large number of yachts either making for those waters or already there.”
What to pack: Chic cotton sarongs by the truckload from Biasa, Indonesia’s homegrown resortwear brand; a wide-brimmed Janessa Leoné panama hat; scuba- and surf-friendly one-pieces from Matteau; an Almond R-Series x Surfrider Foundation board. GoPros and rash guards for everyone.
The boats: 50-metres and up might be on its way to the South Pacific, but in Indonesia the phinisi – the local sailing boats, traditionally built on Sulawesi – is still king. Mackay-Lewis cites Dunia Baru as one of the better entries boasting luxury yacht-calibre interiors (if decidedly not yacht-calibre stabilisation technology; consider yourself warned). “Taking foreign yachts into Indonesia is possible, if a bit complex,” he says, so a few that are locally flagged make life easier; Aqua Blu, Francesco Galli Zugaro’s 15-suite, 60-metre long-range explorer yacht (first seen in the pages of this magazine), is an ideal private diving or exploring charter; it can range to more far-flung points on the map (such as the Forgotten Islands, which are the new obsession down here) in brief time.
Where they go: Pop-up suppers at resorts along the cardinal routes – Amanwana, on Moyo Island off West Nusa Tenggara; NIHI, the fabulous barefoot getaway on Sumba’s south-west coast – bring the social element in. But as with the Expeditionists, back of beyond is the thing here.
Yankee Doodle Purists
Territory: Lower New England (but popular with New Yorkers of a certain stripe), particularly Newport. Traditions hew strongly to sailing, of the accomplished but not necessarily fancy kind. Race weeks punctuate the season, with Memorial Day’s Hyannis-to-Nantucket Figawi regatta a regional highlight (the story goes it got its name from the refrain that rang out of the blinding fog – wherethefuckarewe?? – during its first run in 1972). Summer 2020 saw American yacht owners eschewing Transatlantic crossings, and a pronounced uptick of mega-craft in these parts; Jamie Edmiston reckons the highest concentration of superyachts in North America was in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay – gilded line-ups in front of Gilded-Age mansions that made for some raised eyebrows among locals…
The boats: Because floating gin palaces with helipads = Not Very Newport (not that its swank Shipyard, and the Nantucket Boat Basin for that matter, can’t handle them; both have dockage that can fit 300ft yachts). If you sail, make it something classic; a 20th-century Sparkman & Stephens sloop, perhaps. If you want to really fit in – and get to places faster than about eight knots – get a Hinckley Picnic Boat; it may look a bit like a jooj’d up lobster trawler, but it’s got amazing propulsion technology. And it is probably the only motor yacht guaranteed not to garner you any side eye.
Must-have accessory: A Goslings Newport-to-Bermuda race cap. That you actually earned, in the race. A bar full of rum and Barritt’s ginger beer for sundown Dark ’n’ Stormys. (The ultimate must-have accessory: a Kiwi friend who’s a skipper – New Zealand being the grail of scrappy, world-beating prowess to which all legit Newport sailors aspire.)
What to pack: Him: classic Sperry Topsiders (old, worn); flat-front khakis, and, post-equinox, khaki shorts. A handy length of Dacron rope to belt them. And a navy blazer for dinner. Her: white jeans or chinos; bright printed cotton popovers, brought back from Harbour Island. A tailored sundress or two. (A knee-skimming hem is probably a good bet; Club 55 this isn’t.)
Additional intel by Christina Ohly Evans and Brendan Greeley