Posted by: yachtcrewsing | June 11, 2012

Charleston Charm

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from Charleston; perhaps rows upon rows of plantation-style houses with large wrap around porches sheltering adults drinking iced tea in suits and elegant hats. Perhaps I was expecting horse stables at every city block, a place that was frozen in its own temporal bubble. Whatever my not-fully-formed preconceptions were, the city did not fully comply with them. Sure, there were many churches and old buildings (expected) and the city was undeniably charming, but the Charleston as generated by my mind was much more antiquated, one which complied with the American South as seen in Gone with the Wind.

   The Charleston of reality is much more international in scope. The restaurants, bars and shops are all ones that would be found in any metropolitan city, with a vast array of options. Most stores and restaurants along the bottom of King Street, the main avenue, are chains which include everything from the relatively inexpensive to the high end.

This being said, there is also a large variety of adorable, independent companies nestled within the city centre. Whatever the shopping or dining tastes of the visitor, Charleston is sure to oblige; whatever the architectural preferences, the array of buildings and streets from historic to modern is sure to delight.

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | May 30, 2012

Forest’s Savannah

“My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates” drawled Forest Gump, perched on a bench in Chippewa Square, “you never know what you’re going to get.”

With those words, the character of Forest also accurately depicted the essence of Savannah, the town in which that famous saying was uttered. Savannah is a city of contrasts, pertaining to the vast variations in architectural methods and style, as well as culture and history.

Situated just slightly upriver from the Georgia coast, Savannah is a stalwart exemplar of Georgia’s history. After it was founded in 1733, the city layout was carefully established by the king’s appointee, James Oglethorpe. He set out a grid pattern in which city squares we’re routinely established amongst the residential blocks; bordering the East and West sides of the parks were municipal buildings while the North and South was allotted for residential purposes. This pattern of parks, roads and buildings all having been carefully laid out gives the city a logical uniformity, while the restored old buildings (and the fact that most structures do not rise above two stories), infuses the area with a sense of peaceful beauty.

It is a challenging endevour to list the vast array of things there are to see and do in Savannah. Merely walking around the squares and streets, browsing through cozy little antique shops, visiting B&Bs situated in old manor houses, listening to live music in the city square or eating at any of the vast array of restaurants available is an exceptional past time in itself.

To those who are more art-oriented, the town is home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), one of the most prominent American institutions for the arts. With this comes incredible displays of talent showcased in fashion shows, gallery exhibitions and unique items available for purchase. In addition to student art, Savannah is also home to two incredible museums- the Telfair Museum and the Jepson Centre. The Telfair Museum houses classical paintings and sketches, including a large collection of work by Kahlil Gibran (author of The Prophet). Contrasting this is the Jepson Centre, an incredible structure of glass and Portuguese Limestone designed by Moshe Safdie, the famed architect of Montreal’s Habitat 67. Built to ‘respond’ to the atmosphere of the park on which it is situated, the extensive use of glass is intended to draw in those on the exterior; this it successfully accomplishes. Housed within this grand work of structural ingenuity are exhibits of modern art, ranging from hypnotizing light displays dictated by specific algorithms to the tactile to portrait photography.

Whatever a person’s taste, Savannah is sure to please and delight. From the historic to the modern, and the artistic to the fashionable, the city is an eclectic veritable chocolate box of assortment. But I assure you- with Savannah, whatever it is you get you are sure to enjoy.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | May 23, 2012

Savannah Waterfront

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | May 8, 2012

Tall Ships: Foundations and Contrasts

Last weekend was the Savannah Tall Ship Challenge. Before we entered the channel into Savannah, Georgia, we were treated to the rare nautical parade of tall ships exiting the winding waterway into the city.

No matter which tall ship you look at, they all convey a quiet, understated sense of majesty and of timeless beauty. They are antiquated insomuch as sail maneuvering requires a veritable army on deck and sail technology is rudimentary at best. On a tall ship, every full hoist is a carefully choreographed show of strength, knowledge and teamwork between the crew.

I experienced this amazing and unique atmosphere when I worked for nearly a year on the beautiful S/V Concordia (a vessel tragically now in her final resting place at the bottom of the sea). There was 66 of us onboard of widely varying nationalities, ages and personalities, but when it came to sailing we quickly adopted the common physical language of kinship and understanding that never ceased to leave me incredulous. The sails were solely run on manpower; if a maneuver needed to be accomplish at 3am, then our entire crew were roused on deck to perform the necessary tasks- setting or dousing the 5 square sails, the 3 jibs and/or the 2 mizzen sails and topsails, climbing up the mast to tie or untie the sail gaskets.

Automated to the point where I and every other crew member save for one are obsolete in the process, the sleek, highly modernized yacht I now work on is a far cry from its tall ship progenitors.

I have now grown accustomed to the relative luxuries provided by a ‘yacht’ rather than a ‘ship.’ The yacht being only marginally smaller than the S/V Concordia, it nonetheless runs with a mere 8 crew in comparison to the tall ship’s 66. The yacht is built for ultimate luxury cruising and to showcase the pinnacle of modern sail technology where a tall ship is basic, containing only needs and not wants. Absent of lavish luxuries, a tall ship is built to accommodate the needs of the crew; a yacht is predominantly constructed to maximize guest space and comfort.

Objectively, neither is better than the other, but despite the common categorization of ‘sail boat,’ they could not be more different. Sailing together at the mouth of the Savannah River, they provided a complete dichotomy in function and aesthetics, the apparent simultaneous existence of the past and present; of my past and present.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | May 6, 2012

Back at Sea

We are now officially finished with our winter season of tropical-island hopping. After having left the Bahamas yesterday evening, we have a two day passage at sea before reaching Savannah Georgia! Having heard so much praise for this ‘quaint’ town, I hope it lives up to its unblemished reputation…

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | April 28, 2012

Yacht Photo Shoot, Day 2

‘Life imitates art.’ That thought formed in my head as I coincidentally opened Vogue to an advertisement depicting a swimsuit model splayed on the deck of a yacht; coincidental because at that precise moment I was in a swimsuit and sarong, lounging in the top deck of a yacht and was pretending to read Vogue at the behest of a photographer.

My foray into modeling was born out of a combination of necessity and stinginess; the initial quote from our yacht brokerage to photograph the yacht (20120428-222356.jpgcomplete with models) and create a brochure for charter purposes was an astounding $98,000. Despite the fact that everything pertaining to yachts is mind-bogglingly overpriced, this was an expense that was difficult for our captain to justify. Thus, we found a different company and cut some costs, (sadly) one of which was the professional models.

Thus, as they were without any viable options I was unwillingly nominated as the crew member who would play the part of the ‘wealthy guest’ in our little pantomime of charter life onboard our yacht.

—–

After acting as the stewardess and setting up a tantalizing spread of breakfast early in the morning, I was escorted to my wardrobe and advised by the photographer on what I should wear. “Oh, that bikini with the metal detailing is perfect. Now do you have large sunglasses and a sort of wide-brimmed hat? Perfect! Now for a sarong…”

Photographers Getting Ready for the Beach ShootI lounged on the deck for photos and videos while my fellow crew members set up at the private beach off which we had anchored. The remainder of the day was a sequence of walking down the beach, lounging in chairs set up in sea/sand divide with cheese and rosé, wakeboarding, waterskiing and tubing for the cameras. After a brief break for late lunch, we headed out in the tender to film underwater shots.

Just off of the pristine little beach lay the wreck of a small tanker ship, well encrusted with sea life but nonetheless distinguishable for its formerly function. It was here that the deckhand and I were happily instructed to snorkel over, dive down and through and to generally take in the vast array of colorful fish and stingrays that populated the shell of the ship.

After a brief plunge with the onboard SCUBA gear, we were taken back to the yacht for a quick shower and change to be guests in a mock ‘lunch.’ I have never sat at the guest table, and it was certainly a strange experience to be served food with silverware and napkins

20120428-222403.jpgbeautifully folded, by my chief stewardess (read: my superior). The food created by our chef for the video was tantalizing with its beautiful, fresh ingredients and presentation; not being able to eat it was a challenge (it was to be photographed following the video).

By the time all was said and done, it was late and I was EXHAUSTED. Participating in all of the activities that the boat has to offer is outrageously tiring- I have a new-found respect for both models and for the active guests that we are privileged to have aboard!

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | April 26, 2012

Yacht Photo Shoot, Day 1

   “Today we will be photographing and filming sailing as well as sunset shots on the aft deck and dinner settings and serving. Tomorrow will be lifestyle shots- beach scenes, snorkeling, water skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding…” My raised eyebrows at the last two items caused Charles (“Chaahls”) our posh British photographer to temporarily cease his listing. “You do have kayaks and paddle boards on the boat, don’t you?!”

His surprised tone of implied that these ‘inadequacies’ we’re rendering us irrelevant in the yacht charter scene.

To this, my colleague snidely replied: “we don’t really have the space to put everything… It is a sailing yacht after all. Let me guess, you mostly photograph motor yachts.”

We had enlisting the services of Chaahls’ company for a 3 day comprehensive photo and video shoot of our yacht, the media from which which to be used to create a charter brochure and promotional video. The necessary shots were wide-ranging in order to showcase every last fabulous feature of our boat, from aquatic activities to our guest cabins to our wine fridge, with no nook or cranny left unexplored.

Our first sequence of shots were taken from a helicopter while we were under full sail. With the stunning blues of the Bahamian waters surrounding us and a sufficient amount of wind to fill our sails without requiring de-powering, the boat was able to beautifully showcase her speed and elegance.

After a few hours of sailing (sans helicopter) we arrived at the Berry Islands, a postcard perfect chain of remote, pristine beaches and perfect blue water. This backdrop provided the setting for our sunset shots on the aft deck where we set up a table complete with champagne and berries, and a cheese board which I was instructed to place on the table and walk away from (for the video). The remainder of the evening followed in a similar vein- my chief stewardess and I hurriedly created elegant table settings, polished wine glasses and cutlery, created martinis as show pieces and generally made the yacht look as beautiful as it would if we had guests onboard that were paying over $100,000 a week.

Surprisingly exhausted from the day’s activities, we finally finished shooting around 10:00 PM, and curled into our bunks before our 6:30 start the following morning.

Posted by: yachtcrewsing | April 18, 2012

A Guest Beach Day…

The deck crew go ahead to set up on the private, white sand beach for you and your guests: a wooden table, chairs and large umbrellas, baskets of towels and sunscreen. You are helped off the aft platform of your temporary superyacht home and into the jet drive tender by two uniformed crew members before being ferried to the secluded beach. Accompanying you are two large wicker picnic hampers with all manner of gourmet cheeses and meats, crackers, breads and salads in addition to cooler bags filled with expensive white and rosé wines, which are carried ashore and set up for you to enjoy….

Such is todays experience for our current guests. After having sailed to Whale Cay yesterday from Nassau, we are now anchored in the Berry Islands for a day of swimming in the stunning azure waters and beach (in)activities… For guests, not us crew. As the euphemism goes, while the cat’s away, the mice will hurriedly iron, vacuum and clean the yacht!

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | April 17, 2012

A Beautiful Day for a Sail in the Bahamas!

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Posted by: yachtcrewsing | April 16, 2012

Places of Wealth in the Bahamas

White sand beaches overlooked by swaying palm trees; steel bands; colourful houses and cute hotels haphazardly scattered along the beach front… these are the clichés often associated with the Bahamas.

My present experience with the island is a very different one.

We are currently docked in Albany, a luxury gated community that bares an eerie resemblance to a tropical version of Pleasantville. White sand constitutes the base for an immaculate outdoor horse jumping arena; an open-air lap pool overlooks the impeccably managed greens of the 18 hole golf course; the compound borders on a white sand beach and the ocean which is seldom used due to the outrageously chic ‘adults only’ pool overlooking it (you know, the type of pool that they would use for a swimsuit photo-shoot, complete with breezy cabanas).

The vacation homes running along the beach are upscale and tasteful, but in my opinion do not warrant the 1 million dollar price tag attached to them (they have little to no land in between the buildings, and are beautiful but not outrageously fabulous).

This blatantly showy wealth of Albany is somewhat contrasted by the nearby Lyford Cay community. While Albany is the vacation spot of the marginally wealthy, Lyford is the gated community where the incredibly wealthy dwell, a place where Sean Connery can often be seen happily cycling down the road, and large company CEOs play amiable rounds of golf and matches of tennis with Wall Street bigwigs. The most amazing part about it is that average-income local Bahamians also have modest houses alongside the tropical manors; the roads are cracked and the bright pink bougainvilleas and palms spread themselves haphazardly around the large compound. Despite impeccably manicured croquet courses (an obvious indication of wealth’s presence), the place is not overtly, obnoxiously a display of rich superiority- it is merely a little tropical Eden which provides an escape for those whose name or face prohibits anonymity.

Whether Albany or Lyford, one thing is for sure: there is certainly a significant amount of international wealth on this small island.

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