Australian Bill O’Leary was one of the pioneers of Thailand’s yachting industry along with Englishman Andy Dowden and Frenchman Vincent Tabuteau, each of them arriving on the island in the 1980s and developing charter in the region.

Yachts at the first Thailand Charter Week in Phuket; Photos: Aaron Ross & As Credited

O’Leary and Dowden remain co-authors of the Southeast Asia Pilot cruising guide and the sixth edition was available at the first Thailand Charter Week in Phuket Yacht Haven, where the Aussie revealed he’d heard particular interest in this region when visiting the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show late last year.

“Thailand and Indonesia, in that order, are the countries that most people are interested in. This area is so magnificent and amazing that I really do think that it’s going to be the next big cruising destination of the world,” O’Leary said.

“When I got here over 30 years ago, I thought this is going to be populated by superyachts and other yachts within a couple of years. It’s three decades later and it’s only now really getting some traction and starting to take off.”

Rico Stapel, formerly of Simpson Marine and Boat Lagoon Yachting, has recently set up the B2B Yacht Charter Network (YCN), which he describes as a ‘sales system for agents and marketing platform for yachts’.

Musician John Legend chartered the 106ft Demarest last year

Musician John Legend and his family chartered the 106ft Demarest last year

“When I arrived 13 years ago, I managed a 69ft Ferretti which was the only remarkable charter boat in Phuket. Now, the size and quality of boats out here is steadily increasing. Up to about 100ft, the quality is already very good and we’re getting more and more superyachts coming to the region,” said Stapel, who exhibited the Riva 70 Aria Blue at Yacht Haven.

“Many of the larger yachts choose an international brokerage
to represent them, and increasingly the regional and local charter companies are also looking for Central Agency listings. We are in a transition period right now from local boats having a multi-agent scheme to them wanting more professional representation by choosing CAs.”

An industry-only event, the Thailand Charter Week featured 21 yachts ranging in size from a 48ft Moorings sailing catamaran to the Norman Foster-designed Ocean Emerald (135ft), available for weekly charter from €95,000 through Camper & Nicholsons.

SAILING STRONG

Simpson Yacht Charter is one of Asia’s leading regional charter companies and showed two sailing catamarans, the Lagoon 620 Jyohana and the Lagoon 52F Blue Moon, the latter’s weekly crewed charter rates ranging from €14,000-23,000 depending on season.

Thailand: Jyohana, the Lagoon 620, is among a fleet of sailing catamarans operated around Asia by Simpson Yacht Charter

The Lagoon 620 Jyohana is among Simpson Yacht Charter’s sailing catamarans

A 2011 build, the four-cabin Jyohana primarily did day charters in Singapore until its owner decided upgrade the interior and move the yacht into the overnight charter market late last year. She has been operating in Thailand and Malaysia since December, with key charter periods already booked up.

“As Jyohana is flagged in Langkawi, in the peak season she can do cross-border charters from Phuket to Langkawi,” said Reanna Wang, the company’s Group Charter Manager. “Her customers have often chartered cats this size before but in other destinations, so they’re looking to explore new destinations in Asia.”

Jyohana will again be based in Singapore from May to October, but with a focus on special itineraries to Tioman Island in Malaysia and the Anambas Islands in Indonesia. “That will be very, very interesting for customers,” Wang said.

Blue Moon was new when she arrived in Asia in early 2018. With five cabins, she quickly made a splash in the charter market.

The Thailand Charter Week showed off the stunning scenery around Phuket

The Thailand Charter Week showed off the stunning scenery around Phuket

“She’s a fun boat, with kayaks and paddleboards, lots of games, and we try to provide an exciting trip for the guests. There’s also a small tender that can tow small kids on a wakeboard,” Wang says.

“Catamarans are popular because they offer much more space than a monohull of the same length and are slightly more stable when they cruise. Many people prefer sailing cats to power because they’re quieter. We have a lot of very satisfied customers.”

Fresh from a two-month refit, the 104ft Silverlining was the largest sailing boat at the show, where she was exhibited by Fraser, the international brokerage represented in Thailand by Asia Marine.

Silverlining is the only four-cabin sailing boat of this size in this area and has qualified to be listed by Fraser, a member of MYBA, the most demanding association in terms of compliance,” said Vincent Tabuteau, Fraser’s Managing Director – Thailand, who was hoping to also show the 104ft Camara C, but her arrival in Phuket was slightly delayed.

Thailand: The 104ft Silverlining (Fraser) has a spectacular master suite

The 104ft Silverlining (Fraser) has a spectacular master suite

The experienced Captain and other crew members have been with the boat since it was built from an aluminium hull made in China and finished in Thailand in 2011, before the owner sailed it around the world for several years. Now with a new owner, the four-cabin yacht has new investment with the aim of attracting high-end charter guests.

“She’s in immaculate condition, super safe, great for families, has an experienced crew and a large platform in the back with a selection of water toys,” Tabuteau says. “There’s no real equivalent in Asia, so she should do well.”

MAJOR MOTOR YACHTS

Ocean Emerald is a star of any show she attends in the region and remains “very busy” as a charter yacht, according to Nicole Terry of Camper & Nicholsons. The spectacular four-deck motor yacht showed off a refurbished interior with new carpets, wall fabrics and furniture, the latest investment by owner Nigel Plaskett, who stays closely involved with his boat’s charter business.

The sun deck on Ocean Emerald, which operates in the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand

The sun deck on Ocean Emerald, chartered by Camper & Nicholsons

The yacht has a great sun deck with forward jacuzzi, plus a gym, while there are indoor and outdoor dining areas on both the main and upper decks to enjoy food prepared by outstanding French and Thai chefs. There’s also a fantastic selection of water toys, which were on display at Yacht Haven.

“The yacht, service and cuisine on Ocean Emerald are the same level as experienced charter guests are used to in the Med,” Terry says.

Ocean Emerald sleeps up to 12 guests in a main deck-master suite – with two balconies – and up to four lower-deck cabins, including a double with two Pullmans. The two forward cabins can even be combined to make a ‘second master suite’, with beds in one room rearranged into an L-shaped sofa. It’s important to have the option of two comparable ‘master suites’, according to Terry, for when the yacht is chartered by two families.

The new-look saloon on the 135ft Ocean Emerald, Thailand

The new-look saloon on the 135ft Ocean Emerald

The yacht has up to 11 crew and is based in Phuket from December to April and for the rest of the year in the Gulf of Thailand, where home base is Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya. From
June to September, she’s also available in the Anambas Islands (embarkation in Singapore), although other destinations like the Philippines are possible.

Ocean Emerald has a lot of clients from Europe and Asia, and we generally like to charter for a week, although a lot of high-end hotels and weddings may just want it for a day or two,” Terry says.

The 106ft Demarest, the former Aquarius S built by Falcon in Italy, was exhibited by its new owner following the completion of an eight-month refit last August, when singer-songwriter John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen became its first charter guests. Based in Ao Po Grand Marina, the yacht has a flybridge jacuzzi and three large doubles among its five cabins, with two Pullmans meaning up to 12 overnight guests.

The 97ft beige-hulled Mia Kai, represented by Ocean Independence, also has a top-deck jacuzzi, plus four lower-deck cabins that include two large ones of similar size, with a full-beam master midships and an excellent VIP forward.

The 97ft Mia Kia built in Turkey by Bilgin is operated by Ocean Independence, Thailand

The 97ft Mia Kia built in Turkey by Bilgin is operated by Ocean Independence

“It’s always a good selling point to have two doubles of similar size,” says Kirsty Halfacree of Ocean Independence. “It’s perfect for family charters, as two families can each have two adults in a good-sized double and their children in a twin.”

Often based in Yacht Haven, Mia Kai was built in Turkey by Bilgin Yachts in 2006 and fitted with Italian furniture and marble. The four-cabin yacht features beautiful woodwork throughout its interior, where the saloon leads up a step to a dining table and a portside bar/galley for guest use, as the Michelin-trained chef ‘Notty’ has his own galley on the lower deck.

The seven crew also include engineer ‘Mhoo’, a keen fisherman who encourages guests to trawl for large fish while underway, and Captain Chris Green, who has lived in Phuket for a decade, speaks English, French and Thai, and holds a 200-tonne RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean licence.

Mia Kai is well also well equipped with toys including a rib, jetski, waterskis, wakeboard, kneeboard, paddleboard, inflatable sea kayaks, a T-dock and other inflatables, plus snorkelling and fishing equipment.

Thailand-based Aveline, chartered by Northrop & Johnson, offers two ‘master cabins’

Aveline, chartered by Northrop & Johnson, offers two ‘master cabins’

Northrop & Johnson, represented by Phuket-based Charter Manager Lies Sol, exhibited two yachts including the 103ft Aveline, built in Italy by Maiora. Thai-flagged and put into charter for the first time by her Malaysian owner, the four-cabin yacht has been well kept and is suitable for families and overnight charters, as well as day charters for up to 12 guests.

Like Ocean Emerald and Mia Kai, Aveline offers two big ‘master cabins’, convenient for two families. She’s very well equipped for toys, with a new jetski, two tenders, kayaks and a new inflatable swimming pool that can be attached to the swim platform.

Northrop & Johnson also represents the Sunseeker 86 MaXxx, which has four cabins and a jacuzzi on the flybridge. Following an extensive refit, she features a new tender, jetski, water maker and AV system, plus full Wi-Fi and SAT TV, and can charter between Phuket and Langkawi, as well as to Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago.

VARIETY THE SPICE OF THAILAND

Yacht Sourcing showcased its three Central Agency listings in Thailand – the 95ft Lady Eileen II built in Taiwan, the Azimut 80 Mirage from Italy and the 90ft Maha Bhetra, a traditional wooden motor yacht unlike any other at Yacht Haven, her home port.

Designed by Amanpuri architect Ed Tuttle and chartered by Yacht Sourcing, the 90ft Maha Bhetra is a traditional wooden motor yacht unlike any other at Yacht Haven, her home port

Designed by Amanpuri architect Ed Tuttle and chartered by Yacht Sourcing, the 90ft Maha Bhetra was built in Phuket and is unlike any other boat at Yacht Haven, her home port

Designed by Amanpuri architect Ed Tuttle, Maha Bhetra was built in Phuket of hardwood with teak flooring, and delivered in 1994. Usually based at Yacht Haven, the yacht typically charters around Phuket and north to the Similan and Surin islands.

The two-deck yacht features three elegant cabins on the main deck, plus a cosy bench and table in the bow, while the upper deck features the main saloon and dining areas, plus an open lounge forward. The saloon is open on all four sides and makes the most of the area’s good weather, with transparent blinds only used in case of rain or excessive wind.

The 89ft, three-cabin Ajao has only been chartering from Phuket since last year, having undergone an eight-month refit in Boat Lagoon in 2018 after arriving from Miami.

Formerly in Miami, the 89ft, three-cabin Ajao has been chartering from Phuket, Thailand, since 2018

Formerly in Miami, the 89ft, three-cabin Ajao has been chartering from Phuket since 2018; Photos: Ajao Cruises

Ajao, Yacht, Charter, Thailand

Featuring six crew including cruise director Detlef Sarrazin, a Phuket resident for over two decades, the 1989 Baglietto build is among only a few charter yachts in the area properly geared up for scuba diving, with tanks and a compressor, and is also equipped for game fishing.

The yacht can charter to Malaysia and Myanmar, yet most business so far has been day charters around Phuket catering for up to 30 guests at a time, with toys including two motor dinghies, two kayaks, a paddleboard and snorkelling gear.

Foredeck of the 74ft, one-cabin Chowa, designed and built in Korea

Foredeck of the 74ft, one-cabin Chowa, designed and built in Korea

Chowa, Yacht, Charter, Crew, Thailand

Built by Splo Yachts in Korea and finished in Thailand, the 74ft Chowa – Korean for ‘I like’ – is a one-cabin, bronze-coloured motor yacht featuring unconventional design inside and out. Her point of difference is the lower deck, which is dominated by a large entertainment zone with a huge Samsung TV and bar.

Based in Ao Po Grand Marina and focused on day charters, Chowa and her orange-clad crew can cater for up to 50 guests – who benefit from the yacht’s stabilisers – although she has occasionally done overnight charters when guests stayed at hotels or resorts.

If variety is the spice of life, Phuket’s charter fleet is fairly tasty right now, with choice increasing year by year.

www.thaiyachtingbusinessassociation.com

The original article appears in Yacht Style Issue 51. Email [email protected] for print subscription enquiries or subscribe to the Magzter version at: www.magzter.com/SG/Lux-Inc-Media/Yacht-Style/Fashion/

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