Once a pastime exclusively of the super-rich, superyacht charter is becoming evermore accessible and growing in popularity with groups of friends and families who’ll share a larger vessel, and the cost, to experience the indulgent luxury and total freedom afforded by this kind of vacation. If you’re not one for the snow and ski slopes each winter, then surely you must head for the sunshine and the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean never lose their appeal. With a huge variety of yachts available, and bespoke itineraries offered as standard, a Caribbean charter continues to be an annual indulgence for many. I recently joined the owners of 43m BINA for a few days’ island hopping to see what all the fuss was about.
Stepping aboard 43m BINA in St Maarten, an island easily reached via direct flights from the east coast of the USA, Paris or Amsterdam, I’m handed a cold glass of Champagne and settled into the comfortable aft deck sofas whilst my bags are unpacked in my cabin. It’s 15:00 on a Saturday afternoon and we’re soon to depart for St Barths where we’ll catch the sunset and enjoy our first meal aboard. What’s immediately noticeable is the inviting comfort of this boat; each exterior space offers relaxed lounge seating and the saloons feel homely with cushions, blankets and artistic décor – it’s a home away from home, a particularly beautiful home…
BINA’s owners offer the boat for charter in the Caribbean each winter and varying locations around the Mediterranean in summer. Having invested so much of their time and emotion making BINA the perfect platform for this kind of trip, they take get pride in sharing their achievement with charter guests, who are carefully partnered with the vessel via Edmiston, their chosen charter broker.
“When we purchased BINA and commenced the refit work, it was always part of our plan to make her available for charter,” says co-owner Sabina Nasser, who oversees the running of BINA alongside her brother, on behalf of their family. “Not for business purposes, but to share our family’s passion for the sea with others, and our belief in the value of quality family time. As a close family ourselves, we try to have two weeks aboard every year when we are all together – BINA plays a very central role in our family, she is an oasis.” This exemplifies the perfectly balanced relationship the Nasser family has with BINA, and why their approach has been so successful. Neither a fully private yacht nor a profit-centric enterprise, the family’s attitude to their yacht and its usage by others is more akin to lending a beach house to friends for the weekend.
BINA’s Captain certainly knows all the tricks, dropping the anchor in the bay of Gustavia, St Barths, in perfect timing for us to watch the clouds turn pink over the island and the sun to blaze the horizon a fiery orange. A full compliment of crew takes care of BINA and the guests aboard, and it’s evident that this talented team is a further source of pride for the Nasser family, “We have a wonderful crew – a happy crew. The competence of a Captain can make or break a charter,” states Sabina. “Our crew are a key part of BINA’s charter success. We wanted a team that was absolutely solid; a fantastic Captain, a gracious and amazing interior crew, and a mix of personalities aboard that are enjoyable to be around. They really are brilliant professionals.”
Having freshened up in my en suite cabin, with a beautifully appointed bathroom that surpasses many of the finest hotels, we sat for dinner al fresco on the upper aft deck, at a 12-seat dining table dressed with incredible attention to detail. Five courses of dinner later, with the culinary skills of BINA’s Chef truly showcased and much enjoyed – including a pasta parmesan prepared at the table for us in the parmesan wheel itself, and a chocolate sphere which melted away under a hot chocolate sauce to reveal the treats inside, we retired to the saloon for drinks before bed. BINA can sleep up to 12 guests in her three double suites, which span the full width of the boat, and two twin cabins (all en suite). The clever design offers extensive wardrobe and storage space, and the lighting, air con & window blinds were easily controlled at the touch of a button.
Overnight, the boat was repositioned to Shell Beach, a bay on the other side of Gustavia port. Waking up in new surroundings is one of the great pleasures yacht charter offers. I rose early, unable to bear missing out on a single minute of sunshine and, sure enough, there’s the smiling crew ready to greet me – coffee poured and a breakfast buffet ready to go. Anchored here, close to the beach, the yacht’s ‘toys’ were unpacked – an inflatable slide, Jet Ski, stand-up paddleboards and a Flyboard jetpack were all laid out by the crew for our enjoyment. BINA has a ladder that extends down from her swim platform, enabling easy access to and from the water, and enjoying these water toys under the watchful eye of the highly trained team, I was confident our group’s fun antics were safely overseen.
Having worked up an appetite, we took the tender ashore for lunch at a restaurant right there on the beach, ‘Shellona’. This casual St Barths bistro has an air of effortless chic; feet in the sand, lobster on your plate, rose in your glass and a view of your superyacht is hard to beat. While ashore, I made the most of St Barths’ array of stores, which encompass everything from Chanel to beachwear boutiques. It’s a spot popular with celebrities, models and the jet-set, but the streets here feel paved with an understated glamour, as opposed to glittering gold. You never know who may be stood next to you at the counter in Lolita Jaca (one of my favourite finds!), but a discreet nod that you both know the secrets of St Barths is all that’s called for.
Returning to BINA, we took to the top deck – the ‘sky lounge’ to take in the view from the Jacuzzi with a late afternoon cocktail in hand, whilst the on-deck cinema was setup for the evening. Pleased with our sun-kissed skin and laughing over those falls from the Flyboard jetpack and excitement earlier in the day, I can only conclude that superyacht charter, and specifically aboard BINA, offers all the finest things in life; great food, good company, and a front-row seat to the sunset of your choosing.