Luckily not everything that goes wrong is quite so life-and-death. Sometimes it’s about managing expectations.
- Sam Fortescue -
Even the most experienced adventurers face the odd mishap at sea. BOAT talked to our Co-Founder Jasper Sigon on how V&J endures their own challenges on the water.
Luckily not everything that goes wrong is quite so life-and-death. Sometimes it’s about managing expectations. Jasper Sigon of bespoke yacht charter specialist Voyages and Journeys remembers a client getting hot and bothered about a delayed flight home via Paris after an expedition. "We ended up arranging a private lunch at L'Ambroisie to kill the extra time and everyone was super happy." - Written by Sam Fortescue and published in the article, Epic passages: around the world in 80 mistakes, from Boat International.
Today, we see a lot of individuals or even travel agencies marketing yacht charter services on the mainstream media channels. Since Covid-19 it has become an upcoming market in the travel industry, especially now that these concepts are trending. We even see it on the yacht exhibitions, like Fort Lauderdale and the Monaco yacht show. In Jasper’s personal opinion is not a good development because, there is so much more to it than to just to provide a yacht charter. Unfortunately, for most of the time, these entities will offer a yacht and a destination, then the Client will be forwarded to a Broker to sign the charter contract and they will take care for the basic preparations for the charter and then during the charter the Captain will see what the possibilities are for anchor points. This is such a sad development and definitely not worth the amount of money you pay for a yacht charter. It is not the responsibility of the Broker - the Broker is there for the crew, maintenance and yacht management as service to the owner. It is V&J's responsibility to provide an unforgettable itinerary, and that is why we always have a V&J maritime specialist onboard - to support the Captain and Crew wherever needed and guide them through the itinerary. This way, the Captain and Crew can purely focus on the comfort during the sailing route, what is essential.
“You consult an accountant when you need help with your money and a lawyer when you need help with legal issues. Therefore, you should consult a yacht specialist to plan your yacht charter vacation and build your experience portfolio. – Jasper
Our Co-Founder, Jasper, has 7 years’ experience at land at sea, by working onshore and offshore drilling platforms located in the harshest environments, like the North Sea. Vanessa, the other V&J Co-Founder, brings more than 11 years of experience of not only operating but also managing operations in remote areas of the world where in addition to the logistic changes, one may have to plan for piracy threat. According to both, there is no bigger challenge that to plan drilling operations offshore where all the planets need to be perfectly aligned. Their background brings to V&J a unique set of skills and knowledge from operations at sea.
“Here’s a saying among the boating fraternity that sailors come in two varieties: those who have run aground and those who lie about it. The idea has been claimed and attributed to numerous salty characters down the years but, regardless of its origin, it illuminates a fundamental truth about yachting. That sooner or later, things will go wrong.” – Sam Fortescue, Freelance marine writer
Chartering a yacht is a process, where we take every tiny detail in consideration and carry them all out in house. The process of chartering a yacht with V&J goes as follows:
1. Start to understand Client’s past yacht experiences, in order to manage expectations and explain how the process looks like with us.
2. Define the type of yacht that will fit the best with the wishes, budget, destination to explore, and most importantly, the best weather window for such an expedition.
3. Contact the central Broker and Owner of the chosen yacht to confirm requirements and request a draft of the yacht charter contract.
What is the difference between a Broker and a central yacht Broker? The central Broker is the direct yacht management company of the yacht, the one that has a direct line with the owner. The majority of all yacht Brokers always have to go to the central yacht Broker. If possible, we try to eliminate this step because it represents a big hazzard for planning and it has many ingredients to jeopardize the ideal planning. We strive to ensure a direct line of communication; one of the keys aspects to safely and successfully operate in maritime environments.
4. After gathering all the information, we will sit down and go through every little detail with the Client, advise and even negotiate on behalf if needed.
5. When every party involved agrees to the terms, before signing the contract we will schedule a site visit to the yacht (if possible), so that the Client can meet the crew and get an impression of the yacht.
6. When the Client gives the green light, the contract will be signed, and the first payments will be made.
7. In the meantime we will start creating the voyage and map out the anchor points, permits, supplies, activities, third parties, docking, flights, safety procedures, etc.
This normally happens when you step aboard your vessel and discuss the possibilities with the captain while spending your first night in docks. At V&J we do this inhouse; we operate with our own harbour agencies and local partners around the world, and we communicate this directly to the captain onboard in advanced. Like this we have everything in our control, a direct line of communications, this also takes away some stress points for the captain so that he/ she can fully concentrate on the voyage.
8. When everything is double checked and approved by the Client and owner of the yacht, we request the last payment and confirm every detail.
9. At the end of the voyage, we will receive the APA overview (Advance Provisioning Allowance) - this is the part of the total yacht payment required to cover the flexible costs for preparations, requested supplies, port fees, mooring, permits, fuel, communications, third party services, itinerary, food, beverages, etc. We will go over this overview with the client to see if everything is correct, and the remaining value will be transferred back to the Client.
A very important aspect for V&J is that we always suggest adding marine conservation efforts into our yacht expeditions. During the first contacts with the Client, we evaluate the possibility and interest to donate a pre-defined amount of time and space onboard (if applicable) to local or international marine conservation projects. This initiative always results in unforgettable experiences for the Client, such as tagging Tiger Sharks or testing new equipment, restoring Coral Reefs, or creating observation reports about unreachable parts of the ocean. It brings the Client directly in touch with marine life, and it is a true life-enhancing experience.
To ensure a memorable yachting experience there is always a V&J yacht specialist onboard during the voyage, so that the Client always has a central point of communication, and the Captain and Crew will have a Focal Point to rely for special operations or to deal with Client’s wish-list. As the article from Boat international describes, we can never rule out something going wrong or not going according to plan, especially while afloat and being depending on weather. This is where knowledge and experience come in. We know very well how to anticipate and prepare for these situations and to voyages to the ends of the earth and outside the main sailing routes, so we can always adapt and act on it.
“Expect the unexpected and prepare. These are standard practices operating offshore.”- Jasper Sigon