|Early Purple on charter in Norway|
|Crewed Yacht Charter Reviews|
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Norway’s fjord country is not a typical charter destination, which is why the owners of the 62-foot Swan sailing yacht Early Purple were so excited to base their boat there.
Capt. Charles Houal maneuvers our Swan 62, Early Purple, past the bulbous bow of an oil tanker tied up near the ferry dock. It’s one of at least a half-dozen behemoths sharing the harbor with pleasure boats tonight, like a collective welcome mat announcing Norway’s status as Europe’s leading oil and natural gas producer. Mate Arnaud Tallemet and chef Aurore Brin scamper on deck, and soon we’re tucked in just like the big boys.
Our lines look like the thinnest pull of dental floss next to the commercial-grade monsters, but no matter. We’ll share the cleats for the night—that is, what little of night there will be. This is the city of Bergen, Norway’s second largest after the capital of Oslo. We’re about 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is early August, and the Earth’s axis is tilted just so. The sun will be back up in about four hours. It doesn’t so much set here as wink at its forced insomniacs between fleeting moments of dusk and dawn.
The heart of Norway’s fjord country, with Bergen as its base, is not your typical charter destination. I find myself here by sheer luck of timing and the yacht owner’s personal cruising schedule (which will be the parameters for you, too, if you want to charter in Scandinavia, where the season is so short and the location so far from the popular Western Mediterranean that only a handful o
f international charter yachts visit each summer). Early Purple’s owners are preparing for a 200-mile cruise up Norway’s west coast, where the yacht will sail through the fjords at Viking-friendly latitudes north of the one that crosses Juneau, Alaska. They arrive in a week, which gives the crew time to squeeze in a quick charter with me.
It will be only the third charter that Early Purple has performed since the owners took possession of the 2002 build in 2006.
“Charter has not been the priority for this boat,” Houal tells me, rifling off the list of destinations the owners have sailed during the previous three years. There’s his own hometown of Brittany, France, followed by the Côte d’Azur, Corsica, Italy, the Caribbean, Cuba, and Scotland. “Beginning in winter 2009-10, we plan to pick up our charter schedule more than in the past. We will start in Sint Maarten and then move during the summer of 2010 to someplace new. Maybe South America. Maybe the South Pacific.”
Traipsing the globe aboard the beautifully maintained Early Purple seems to be Houal’s natural calling. He came aboard with the new owners, whose first yachting experience was a charter he performed for them aboard another Swan 62 in the Caribbean. They stole him away to show them the world, as opposed to frequenting the harbors from Antigua to Antibes that become home bases for so many other charter yachts. The cruising style requires an attitude and skill set that not all skippers possess. Houal and Early Purple’s crew arrived in Norway just a few days before I did. None of us speaks the language, we don’t yet have a proper chart, and we’re all doing mental calculations to determine the equivalent worth of a kroner. Even still, Houal is ready to explore. And I feel perfectly comfortable going with him. He simply embodies that level of trust.
How amazing it would be to explore not just Norway, but any waters aboard a well-appointed charter yacht like Early Purple, bringing comfort and solitude and fine dining along for the journey.