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Recollecting voyages
Tristan Rutherford
8th January 2019

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Recollecting voyages

The travel writer Bruce Chatwin cut an untrodden path through Patagonia armed with nothing more than a Moleskine diary. His task was to craft recollections from a land of lost memories. Above Tierra del Fuego, where Ferdinand Magellan had sailed four centuries before, he wrote of volcanic fantasies and phantom beasts. His reminisces became a rock during arduous journeys ahead. In Chatwin’s words: “To lose a passport was the least of one’s worries. To lose a notebook was a catastrophe.”  

The recalling of voyages past is a touchstone. A propitious moment during a rainy day in London, or wherever one’s office might be. Guests might recall dawdling dinners with family, or belly laughs with friends. Other sailors like Captain James Cook revelled in the recollection of sailing off the map. “Our present navigation is upon an unknown coast and surrounded by perpetually thick fog,” as he wrote aboard HMS Discovery in June 1799 – no doubt thrilled at the promise of virgin land just beyond the Arctic mist. To set glorious memories in stone is why many set sail in the first place.

Guests in search of similar memories as Cook may charter 77.4m M/Y Legend. The fully classified ice-breaking ship was carved in steel at a Dutch shipyard in 1973, then converted into a sumptuous superyacht by Icon Yachts in 2016. Up to 26 guests can cruise the seldom-seen coasts of Greenland and South Georgia in unparalleled luxury. The inclusion of a ten-strong expedition staff – in addition to the 19 crew – allows for an ice pilot, polar guides and naturalists to accompany a trip of a lifetime. As Sacha Williams, Camper and Nicholsons’ Charter Marketing Director, attests: “There are yachts that have commercial helipads and submarines. There are yachts that go to the Arctic and Antarctica. But all of the above? Legend has all these capabilities and then some.” One could conceivably paddle an ice floe by kayak and snow scooter to a crevasse. Then rejuvenate with a rum soda in the Balinese spa while the drone footage of your day is edited for screening in the on-board cinema. “Memories don’t come much more indelible than that,” says Williams. 

Maritime writer Joshua Slocum, author of Sailing Alone Around the World,  recalled a golden age of sail during the gathering cloud of steam. The first man to circumnavigate the world solo, he was something of an old seadog, who blithely disregarded both danger and any form of local culture. He relied solely on dead reckoning and took only one lunar observation during his 46,000 mile trip. We can recall his carefree style when his 11m gaff, the Spray, turned turtle. “I grasped her gunwale and held on as she turned bottom up, for I suddenly remembered that I could not swim.” Slocum’s mission was not exploration, but sailing for unadulterated pleasure.

In the Western Mediterranean, 62m M/Y RoMa provides a similarly spirited experience for a dozen guests – with 17 staff to ensure safety levels unseen on Slocum’s wooden boat. “RoMa’s bosun taught Latin dancing before he got into yachting,” explains Charter Manager Charline Francis. “He can teach the guests to tango in between everything else the yacht has to offer.” Yet there’s more to the Espen Oeino-designed yacht that a shimmy under the stars on the capacious sundeck. “She also has an approved PADI dive centre,” says Francis. “Guests can even start their diving initiation in the huge pool on the sundeck.” A tailor-made scuba trip to a marine park, like Mallorca’s Cabrera archipelago or Cinque Terre’s area marina protetta, are what personal stories are made of. A photo of loved ones, grinning through a mask and snorkel, would cheer any bureau top.

The most receptive of memory banks can be found in one's taste buds. That’s why 38.4m M/Y Le Montrachet prowls the rich marine waters of the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. “The friendly captain keeps a 35’ Marlin tender rigged for fishing,” says Americas Charter Director Charter Manager Janina Martinsen. “The translucent seas between Bimini and Nassau are particularly rich in wahoo and marlin, as the sailor-writer Ernest Hemingway found to his great pleasure.” Staff will clean the catch before serving on the bridge deck lounge as sushi, ceviche or au beurre. As Le Montrachet‘s name suggests, the bespoke bar has enough New World vintages to satisfy Hemingway’s dyspeptic thirst. That comes as good news as guests page through his novels, seated beside the yacht’s baby grand piano. 

For a final set of yachtsmen, endeavour holds the key to lifelong memories. That’s the serendipitous ability to relive the discovery of a deserted bay, a lost island, or a banana curve of powder soft sand where the footprints were yours alone. Herman Melville once spent 18 months cruising the islands of the Pacific. When he reached Tahiti, “the clouds floated away, and showed the three peaks standing like obelisks against the sky: the tears gushed.” Those thoughts stood him in good stead when he penned his trans-world quest of Moby Dick. Indeed, the sailing trips in his youth inspired him to even farther shores: the Galapagos, Cape Horn, the Holy Land.

One of the finest Benettis afloat, 64.5m M/Y Silver Angel, charts similarly distant waters – in style. Over the coming year she’ll meander through the lesser known Caribbean and across to the Galapagos while porting 16 sets of diving equipment, plus a Bauer Dive compressor to boot. It’s hard to say whether memories will be inscribed by a guided scuba tour of the Bonaire Marine Park with 400 sealife species. Or by a family cocktail party in the art deco interior decorated with a Gatsby-esque array of white onyx, silver leaf and Lalique. All we can do is provide the once-in-a-lifetime setting for ideas to take root. The memories are yours alone.