Owner/captain, 47-foot sailing catamaran Tachyon
November 2008 update: Eric still owns Tachyon, but is leaving the boat for the birth of his first child. A new captain is coming onboard.
Date interviewed: March 2007
How did you realize you wanted to become a charter yacht captain?
I learned how to sail as a kid in Southern California, and I loved it. I spent time in Australia, Annapolis, San Diego. ... I was working as a U.S. Sailing coach, teaching people to sail and race and do coastal pasagemaking. All the while I was earning sea time, with a goal of getting my captain’s license.
About 10 years ago, I got the idea of running a charter company. I went for an MBA at the University of Colorado, and my focus was entrepreneurship, and we had to make a business plan for one of my classes. I ended up doing mine on the charter business, and it looked like it could be viable, something we could have success in and have a lot of fun doing.
Then I was fortunate enough to meet Jacque, who’s now my wife, and she’s a gourmet chef and dive master. It was amazing how well her life fit right into the plan. We took it to a couple of friends who were potential investors, and they liked what they saw.
We incorporated in June of 2006, we bought the boat in July, and in November we introduced ourselves to the brokers. We’ve so far had four or five charters, and we already have 13 or 14 on the books. Our goal was ten. It’s been unbelievably fun and terrific.
What training did you undergo to become a captain?
I have a U.S. Coast Guard 50-ton master’s license. We passed the STCW-95 course, which is a firefighting and safety course that is required to operate down here [in the Virgin Islands], and I have a U.S. Sailing Instructor’s Certificate that I used when I was teaching and coaching.
What yachts did you work on before joining your current yacht?
Tachyon is my first. I’ve worked as a first mate down in Australia, sailing around the Coral Sea and Papua New Guinea, and I’ve worked as a captain in regattas and as a coach where I’m teaching people how to cruise and anchor, but never on a charter yacht. That’s new to me.
What do you think makes your yacht’s crew unique or special?
The best advantage we have is that we’re a really good team, and we also own the boat. We have a vested interest in its success.
We’re relatively young. I just turned 33 and Jacque is 29, and so we’re enthusiastic. The main thing we want to do with our company is grow it and be successful in the long term. We don’t just want to go sailing for a little while, or fill in the gaps in our own cruising lifestyle. We want to succeed, buy another boat within the next few years, and build up a clientele to become a larger company.
How do you determine what itinerary you will set for a given charter?
We don’t have any set itineraries. When the guests come onboard, we sit down with a chart and ask them what they want to do and where they want to go. Some people want to do more snorkeling, some want to go partying at the beach bars, lots of options. So we ask them what interests them the most, and then we go from there.
One of the things we’re striving for is flexibility. Whatever they want to do, we do our best to accommodate them. We’ve been sailing around here for nine months. We know the fastest way from A to B, and we can accommodate the guests’ wishes.
How flexible are you about changing the itinerary on a day-to-day basis?
Totally flexible. We had a day when we went to White Bay at Jost Van Dyke, and we’d planned to go for one night, but the people liked it and wanted to stay an extra day. So we stayed an extra day. Of course we stayed.
What are some of your favorite cruising destinations, and why?
We do both the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. I love to go up to Anegada and go fly-fishing. I’m from Colorado, and we do a lot of fly-fishing in the streams there. At Anegada, we can go for bonefish. Plus there are a lot of great dive sites on Anegada, and that’s what Jacque likes. Plus, kite surfing and wind surfing on Virgin Gorda, we love to do that if our guests are into it.
If our guests would rather relax, that’s fine. But if people want to go diving and kayaking and go out and have fun, we’re ready.
What features onboard your yacht do you particularly enjoy sharing with guests?
The reason that we picked this boat—and we went and looked at every catamaran that was for sale in the Virgin Islands—is that we have a huge cockpit, which is where people spend the majority of their time.
We also have a big swim platform, which is great for the swimming and diving. The outside of this boat was the best that we saw for the kinds of charter we want to do.
Describe a typical guest’s day onboard your yacht.
We wake up about 6:30 or 7 and get coffee going for whenever people wake up. Then, we make a full breakfast of whatever the guests want, whether it’s eggs benedict or cereal.
Usually people like to take a morning swim, and then depending on the itinerary we’ll either go diving or snorkeling or for a sail. Then we do lunch, and most of the time it’s light, like chicken Caesar salad and fruits and veggies, because that’s what people request.
And then we’re on the move if people want to be. We try to get to our night’s destination in the mid- to late afternoon, in time for the guests to explore or go to the beach or go kayaking or whatever they want to do.
Then they come back and we serve hors d’oeuvres, cocktails around 5 or 6 o’clock, and then dinner, which is steak or fish or chicken. Jacque’s passion is baking, so there’s always a fancy cake or something like that for dessert. Her hazelnut cake is just fantastic. It’s a clean-plate club here. My job as dishwasher is very easy.
What kind of charter guests are your favorites?
We’ve had a couple guests who just wanted to lay around and read and enjoy the sun and relax, and that’s fine. It’s actually easier for us. The last group we had, they were on the kayaks and hiking every day, and they were very active, which is fun for us. So we like all kinds.
We are also kid-friendly. We’ve got DVDs from Disney, a PlayStation2, kids’ water skis, a wakeboard, kids’ snorkels and fins, and a tube. We’ve had four kids onboard so far, and half of the charters we have from now until June are families, so we have all kinds of kids coming from age 5 to 18. I enjoy hanging out with kids and having fun with them.
We honestly like the variety of different kinds of guests. We really do.
What else should CharterWave readers know about you and your yacht?
My wife’s background is that she’s an Ivy League, Dartmouth athlete, a three-time All-American in lacrosse. And she’s absolutely the best chef, and she’s completely detail-oriented. The way that she’s wired and the effort that she puts in is just phenomenal. She’s enthusiastic and so happy to help people out, I think that she’s a great asset.
She’s much smarter than I am, too, so she makes sure things run smoothly.
Tachyon is part of the fleet at Regency Yacht Charters. Her high-season all-inclusive weekly rate (for pretty much everything except scuba gear and gratuity) is $12,300 for six guests, or about $2,000 per person.