|Queen of Andaman in Thailand|
|Crewed Yacht Charter Reviews|
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This Phuket-based, a 134-foot sailing yacht is setting a new standard of international-quality charter in Thailand—a nation striving to become a premier winter yachting destination
She left a Turkish shipyard as a new build in December 2007 and arrived in Phuket in February 2008, when her European owner began a two-month tour from Thailand to Indonesia. The boat’s first charter took place there, after which the owner spent eight more weeks onboard, cruising to Malaysia and Singapore. It wasn’t until September 2008, just a few weeks before my arrival, that Queen of Andaman returned to Phuket, which will be her regular winter charter base (from early November until late April).
Mine was her first trip with charter guests since that single Indonesia charter, and her next booking would not be until Christmas, when her itinerary would include Myanmar. I thus had the opportunity to be one of the first people in the world to assess her amenities and crew skills.
I can honestly say that the yacht’s British captain, Kiwi mate and engineer, Thai and Philippine stewardesses, and Indonesian chef and deckhand showed me the spectacular scenery while providing every comfort that I have come to expect onboard similar-size charter yachts from St. Maarten to St. Tropez. The yacht itself was comfortably elegant, with all the amenities I would expect in her price range.
Capt. Graeme Lawrence was a standout in my opinion. He's a British ex-pat who has been working on and around boats in Southeast Asia since 1995. I especially liked the attention he had given to building the yacht’s medical kit. During a two-week charter, guests will usually be no more than a day’s cruise from a town, but the medical services in these small towns—often villages, really—are not necessarily up to international standards. That’s why Queen of Andaman carries a medical kit worth about £10,000, including a defibrillator, oxygen, a stretcher, and a neck brace. The yacht also subscribes to MedLink, a remote-diagnosis service, should a doctor’s assistance be needed far from shore.
Queen of Andaman's owner cares deeply about quality, Lawrence told me, and the attitude explains the gorgeous mahogany that covers the yacht inside and out--woodwork that Lawrence and his team take great pride in maintaining. “We’ve had 15 coats of varnish so far,” he says. “I’ve had five coats done in just the past two months. When we get to 20, it’ll really be great.”
The elegance of the yacht and the skills of the crew are especially noteworthy in Thailand, a destination that is still refreshingly raw. At one point during my charter, a local longtail boat zipped across our bow, showing us its stern, Lawrence said, “because they believe it rids their boat of evil spirits.” Several hours later, we cruised past an island cliffside littered with building-height bamboo poles. I spotted a small, thin, practically naked man squatting on the edge of what was basically an intricate tree house; I have no doubt his hawk-like gaze had been pinned on us for miles before we even knew he was there. He’s a scavenger whose life’s work is collecting and later selling the makings of bird’s-nest soup. It’s a Chinese delicacy.
When our gaze parted, I realized that I was standing about 15 feet above the water’s surface on Queen of Andaman’s top deck, enjoying the kind of privileged vantage point that typically can be found only on motoryachts. This motorsailer with gulet lines, as her owner describes her, had left me feeling not just ultimately relaxed, but also like an explorer in a beautiful haven of fascinating culture.