First Impression: Seawolf
Date toured: December 2008
It’s not every day that I step onboard a charter yacht capable of simultaneously towing two aircraft carriers.
That’s the case with the 193-foot Seawolf, which started life in 1957 as a salvage tug named Clyde. During her working days, she towed those two aircraft carriers all the way from Boston to Japan. She also once endured a pair of typhoons while towing an oil-filled supertanker from the Persian Gulf to Japan. Each of her two anchors weighs 4,000 pounds. Her crane can lift 7 tons. A single tank of fuel can get her from San Diego to Gibraltar. The crew call the windlass, which lowers the anchor, “the widow-maker” because its 6-inch-wide chain is so heavy. Yowzah!
An expedition-eager yacht owner bought the boat in the mid-1990s and spent nearly four years converting her into a private yacht, with the work ending in 2000. She got a new owner in January 2008, and he put her into charter for the first time during the summer 2008 Mediterranean season. When I stepped aboard in December 2008, Seawolf was preparing to begin her first season of Caribbean charter, after which she had a 2009 schedule expected to include Panama, the Galapagos Islands, and the South Pacific. An April 2009 stop in a San Diego shipyard will include some additional refit work, including adding a glass enclosure around the outdoor dining room, adding an outdoor bar for guests to enjoy on the bridge deck, and installing new carpeting throughout the interior guest areas.
I looked around Seawolf with Capt. Drarg Richards, an Australian who previously worked onboard a private, 209-foot expedition yacht built by Royal Denship, called Turmoil. Richards said he had been in command of that boat in Greenland, which made me think he was exactly the right type of personality to run an expedition charter yacht with an ambitious schedule of going far beyond the typical charter grounds in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
My instinct, given Seawolf’s elegant interior décor and full-deck master suite, was that she is a charter yacht ideal for adult couples. Richards quickly corrected me on this, explaining that the owner has young children and that the crew excel at working with them.
“We love kids,” he said. “We just did a charter with six boys between 8 and 13 years old. We pride ourselves on our outside entertainment areas and water toys, which children love. Because we’re so active, Seawolf attracts crew who want to go places and do things. That’s a good combination when kids are involved.”
Seawolf’s water toys list is, indeed, impressive. She carries a 25-foot tender, a 17-foot tender, a 28-foot sailboat, a pair of Jet Skis, a pair of Wave Runners, a pair of Wind Surfers, plus all the kayaks, snorkeling gear, skiing and tubing accessories, and fishing gear you could imagine.
There is also scuba equipment onboard, and Richards says guests are allowed to dive from the yacht—which is unusual in the world of charter because of insurance concerns. An entire room in the crew space is devoted to stowing the dive equipment, which there’s so much of that when I walked inside, I felt as though I’d entered a Brownie’s Third Lung showroom. “We have a dive instructor and four dive masters onboard, plus all of this” Richards told me, waving his arm past countless regulators and buoyancy compensators. “It’s no problem for guests to dive from the boat.”
Seawolf accommodates 12 guests in a master suite that encompasses an entire deck and includes a sitting room, library, media room, and dressing room. The other five guest cabins are on the main deck. One is a VIP cabin with a queen-size bed, two have double-size beds, one has a double bed plus a twin-size bed, and the last cabin has twin-sized beds.
“I actually like the VIP better than the master,” Richards said. “It just feels bigger to me.”
Personally, I think I’d be happy in any of the guest cabins. So will most guests, who also will likely be happily exhausted from days of water sports fun and touring exotic destinations.--Kim Kavin
Seawolf takes 12 guests with 15 crew at a lowest weekly base rate of $180,000. She’s part of the Fraser Yachts Worldwide fleet. Any reputable charter broker can help you book a week onboard.