A Newbie’s Guide to Yachting the High Seas

When a humble and generous friend invites you on a girls’ trip cruising the tourmaline waters of the Bahamas, don’t waste time carefully looking at your schedule. Just say Yes.

My fellow newbie friend Julie and I couldn’t find our flip flops fast enough, threw our swimsuits and cover ups in a carryon and hastily boarded the plane. Four hours and one uniformed chauffeur later, we found ourselves on a luxury yacht, squealing like tweens, trying to appear as if it wasn’t our first rodeo on the high seas.

Rule #1 – Stay calm and act like you’ve done this before. Many times.

A few things pop into your head when you suddenly find yourself aboard a double-oh-seven-style-fabulous-over-the-water-mansion. “What’s inside?” Followed shortly by “Is that my room?” We unpacked quickly and waited for our group of eight to arrive, champagne in hand, poking around. This might have involved peeking casually into every stateroom, oohing/aahing at high thread count sheets and sniffing around the kitchen . We rounded out hour two (second & third glasses of bubbly) by asking the captain to take photos of us commandeering the ship, peppering him with the who, what, where and when of the yachting life.

Rule #2 – Get to know the crew, they’ve seen it all.

Jared, our captain, is a handsome Louisiana local with kind eyes and an easy smile. Like many sought after captains, he got into the yachting community through his father, who passed down the knowledge and connections. Like any culture built around the lifestyles of the rich and famous, yacht crewing is a tight knit business based on service, professionalism, and reputation. Relationships are king.

Travel with wealthy individuals requires a high level of dedication, discretion – and prediction. The crew are experts on safety, as well as the best spots snorkeling spots. The ease with which they work together to maneuver these million dollar toys in and out of the world’s chicest harbors is a talent gained through years of experience. Captains are paid for their knowledge of destinations, tides, depths, wind and the language of the sea. Jared and his first mate, Alex, a tall twenty something jack-of-all-trades, are constant engineers, mechanics, and cleaners, doing everything from negotiating with harbormasters getting us in and out of port, scrubbing the boat to stop corrosion encouraged by the salty conditions and following us around shutting stateroom doors to keep out damaging humidity that can bring mold into the gorgeous interiors.

As Jared and I walk the harbor, he notes yachts and captains he knows, explaining that they run into each other around the world. The communication vine is strong. If something happens on our boat while in the Bahamas, a crew on the other side of the world will know within 24 hours.

Rule #3  Have a great bartender. Bonus points if she stays one step ahead.

Jared’s fiancee, Savannah, our adorable hostess and cruise director, manages us with ease, although I’m sure she’s exhausted at the end of every day. She works with the chef to get three delicious meals on the table (paying attention to vegetarian and gluten free requests) and is the master of dramamine, sunscreen, shopping tips, spa appointments, and pretty much anything else she figures out we need before we ask. Savannah is a genius at this. She’s also an incredible bartender, remembering favorite drinks, and at least once a day, appearing with a big smile, a full tray, and a call of “Ladies, shots!”. We love Savannah.

Rule #4  Be a velvet hammer with an ocean full of patience.

Jared is a master of making us feel like nothing’s wrong when he gently breaks it to us the next morning that we need to make a hasty exit from our intended stay at stunning Harbour Island when a fast moving weather system threatens. Alex knows the drill, working effortlessly to ready the lines for departure and politely hustles us back aboard after finding us shopping in the harbor. It’s like trying to carefully – and quickly – herd very talkative cats. This crew has a gift. Drinks and lunch are waiting.

Rule #5  Be ready for anything

After we’ve been safely evacuated to a larger port, curled up inside the air conditioned salon of the yacht, we lament our luck over cocktails. The weather chased us from sun drenched snorkeling of hidden coves to a 5 day mooring at the full-of-spring breakers 4,500 room behemoth that is the Atlantis Resort. We bob and roll for days, amidst 30 mile per hour winds and 55 degree temperatures that have no intention of letting up until our trip is over.  Thanks to the gift of female friendships, it’s still a memory-filled trip.

Rule #6  Savor the moment

Stuck inside, something magical happens. Sublime meals are served, conversation and laughter fill the room. Music arrives, dancing follows. I stop and look around as if I’m one of the tourists snapping photos of this fabulous yacht full of women having the time of their lives. Now I get it. The name of the boat perfectly captures the carefree feeling, thanks in no small part to the talent of this crew and the real purpose of this yacht. To make all of us forget for a few stolen days that we have normal people problems – kids, jobs, health scares – waiting for us at home. That for this one shimmering moment on a cold, windy day aboard a spectacular yacht in the Bahamas, we didn’t have a care in the world.

Yes, It’s Noon Somewhere.

 

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