There were over a thousand boats, eagerly waiting to take their sailors for a ride from the Gateway of India. On a smaller boat I was taken to the yacht that awaited me, a Sundancer Sea Ray. My legs shivered with nervousness and excitement as I stepped onto the ‘dancer’. It brought back memories from my childhood when I would watch clips of Lady Diana cruising away in a private yacht and I wondered if this is what really defines royalty.
It picked up speed steadily and whooshed across the Arabian Sea, almost like a ballet dancer on the waves. The sea-breeze caressed my face and blew my hair back. Never before had I been so close to nature and I yearned for this tranquillity to last forever.
But it wasn’t meant to be as I was pulled out of my dream-like state by one of the crew members who suggested I see the yacht from the inside. Reluctantly, I went inside but to my amazement, I saw an entire room there. It had everything that one needed for a vacation: bed, washroom, TV, microwave, grill... a floating hotel, if you will. I am told that the bigger yachts like the Ferretti have a proper living room and bar as well! “Apart from the Sea Ray, we have Ferretti Yachts which are the world’s most renowned premium yacht brand and are handcrafted. Then we have Riva, which is an iconic brand and is around 150 years old. It is the kind of boat owned by the Prince of Monaco, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. It appreciates in value over the years so it is a collector’s item. Rivas were very famous for their 30 footer Aquarivas, which are still manufactured today. We also have the Pershing. It is like the Ferrari in the water. It is a fast performance yacht which has a very powerful drive and turbine engines and can go up to 55 knots. It’s a sporty yacht. Then there is Jeanneau, which is a French brand. A yacht with proper cabins and bathrooms could be anywhere around Rs. 5 to 7 Crore depending on which brand one chooses. ” Anju Dutta, Managing Director, Marketing & PR at Marine Solutions, told me.
I wondered why someone would spend such a colossal amount on something they won’t even keep at home! “It is leisure!” said Anju. “It is like your private villa and it can give you exclusive luxuries. It gives you time for everything from bonding, to entertainment and business. It is extremely unique. You can go to any five star hotel but this becomes your own private villa!” And how difficult is it to maintain a yacht, I wondered. “Many people, who are based inland and have business very often in Mumbai or Goa, keep the boats with us, we maintain it for them and when they come, they stay in the yacht rather than staying in a hotel.”
Since there are so many yachts available in the market, are there good yachts and bad yachts? “No. Just like there are no good cars and bad cars. It is what a person can afford to buy. One can go boating in a nice little dinghy as well. The yacht clubs have these freebirds which have been manufactured in India for 100 years. Those are also nice boats to go out in but it depends on what kind of luxury are you looking at. But it takes a lot more to make a good boat. Ferretti group of boats are the only ones in the world which belong to the class A category. This means, they can also go into the deep sea. Sea is a very corrosive medium to be in.
To build and maintain a boat is much more difficult than building and maintaining a car. The boats are expensive because it is made from very high grade materials which are anti-corrosive. These are the boats which, 10 years down the line, do not start turning yellow. When you have a better quality product in the water, it has longer life, less depreciation and it is easier to maintain.”
After seeing so many boats at the marina I was curious if there was such a big market market for yachts after all. “It is such a big market; we have people who are new to money; people in the banking sector; professionals. Today the world is changing. When people are travelling they want to spend quality time with their friends and family. Anybody who has got a boat, whether it is a 17-foot small boat for 10 lakhs or a big one for 10 crores, will never sell it. I’ve got people upgrading, buying bigger boats and as they say, after you buy your first boat, you’ll own at least four more in your lifetime.”
“The distance from Mumbai to Goa is 220 nautical miles. Since a Sea Ray can go up to 200 nautical miles, we refuel it midway in Ganpathipule Jaigarh. The bigger ones can even go up to Maldives. The coast between Mumbai and Goa is very beautiful. There are many forts built by Shivaji like Murud-Janjira, Jaigarh which are stunning. All these forts are untouched and pristine. In years to come, these can be some of the best destinations to travel to. Only the sailors know about these places,” signs off Anju and gives all the non-sailors a reason to don the sailor’s cap and experience the life of a captain.
A Sailor Speaks...
Shakeel Kudrolli, one of the finest yachtsmen in India, founded Aqua Sails India to promote the sport of sailing and trains people to sail. Aqua Sails India also sells boats and yachts...
What is the best thing about sailing?
It is an environment-friendly sport. When you sail a boat it has its own romance and it has its affinity because you are weaving in the natural element to enjoy the activity on the water. Of course you enjoy the activity at a very high adventure level, as at times you are sailing in very rough conditions. But it is also a great sport.
Five things you’d want to share with those who have no idea about sailing
1. A person should not buy a boat out of impulse because it involves huge expenses.
2. They should be involved in the activity and therefore learning to sail becomes a key factor even before you buy a boat. It’s not just about the money but about the engagement and commitment you want to make towards the sport.
3. You should do your homework and seek good advice before you buy the boat.
4. Where you buy it from becomes very important as there are huge differences in prices from place to place owing to customs and other duties.
5. Buy a boat for the conditions you want to operate it in. For example, you could be coastal sailing from Mumbai and buy a sea certified boat which looks good but is actually meant for the lake and not the sea. It will probably cost the same but it is the wrong design.