Date toured: November 2006
My first impression of Aldebaran came before I even stepped onboard. I was walking down the dock toward the yacht at the Village Cay Marina in Tortola when a lovely young woman stopped me and smiled. “Hi, Kim,” she said. “How lovely to see you again!”
I racked and racked my brain, but could not place the face. I looked at her polo shirt, which read Aldebaran, and could not remember having ever been onboard the boat. So I politely replied, “Great to see you, too,” and waiting hopefully for some additional information to flow in my direction.
“I’m on Aldebaran now,” she said. “It’s the 57-foot sailing cat at the end of the dock. A lot different from the Blue Harem, but I think you’ll like it.”
Aha! Blue Harem! This lovely young woman was a stewardess named Cayley, and she had remembered me from about a half-dozen years earlier, when I’d written an article about the 138-foot charter motoryacht Blue Harem. She’d been one of a half-dozen crew members I’d met during that story assignment, one of countless I’d met over the years.
And I, undoubtedly, was one among countless guests she’s served onboard boats since then—which made her remembering my face and name all the more impressive.
I was thinking about that level of attention to detail later that evening, when the boat show officially ended for the day and the charter brokers in attendance all began wandering from yacht to yacht for the cocktail hour “poker run.” At each yacht, the captain would give the brokers a new card from a fresh deck, with each broker’s goal being to win the best hand while touring the most yachts.
Brokers were moving quickly from boat to boat, trying to rack up the aces before spinning around and moving down to the next boat on the dock. But when I arrived at Aldebaran, there was a pack of people lingering on deck, not going anywhere. I climbed aboard and saw that Cayley and her husband, Capt. Justin Smit, had organized a full-on casino theme complete with a roulette wheel, additional prizes, and lush hors d’oeuvres including salmon pinwheels and cucumber-wrapped tuna sushi. It was megayacht-level quality service on a mid-range sailing catamaran, the kind of service that made people want to stick around.
When I combined this moment with the fact that Cayley had remembered me from so long ago, I realized that Aldebaran is in fact one of those smaller yachts that pulled its crew from bigger boats—and therefore its level of charter service, as well.
Convincing me even further was the story that Justin told me about their first charter onboard Aldebaran, for repeat clients of the boat who were used to the previous crew.
“We had a lot to live up to, but we got a 40-percent tip,” he explained. “The people had an outrageous time and were obviously ecstatic.”
That’s high praise in my book, enough to make me feel confident in recommending this six-guest yacht (with a seventh bunk bed—no private bathroom—if you want to bring along a child to sleep outside the three guest cabins with queen-size berths and en suite facilities).
Aldebaran’s weekly all-inclusive rate is $16,900 for two to four guests, or $17,900 for six guests (just shy of $3,000 per person with a full boat). The seventh guest, ideally a child, charters for free in that bunk-style bed. The yacht is part of the fleet at Regency Charter Services.--Kim Kavin