Captain Chris Stollery talks about the Berret Racoupeau-designed luxury catamaran LIR, his years of professional experience as well as life aboard this fantastic vessel. LIR is a beautiful Victoria 67 sailing yacht and at 20.44 meters (67 foot) provides comfortable and stylish accommodation in four spacious cabins to up to eight charter guests in total. All cabins have their own en-suite facilities, air-conditioning, and feature contemporary and elegant decor. The vast open plan living areas, both inside and out, are ideal for relaxation and socializing with family, friends or colleagues. For endless entertainment and fun, she is equipped with a great range of water toys, such as diving and snorkeling gear, donut, wakeboard, paddle surf, kayaks etc. LIR is available for luxury charter holidays in the Mediterranean during the summer and Caribbean in winter.
What was your first encounter with yachts and how did you begin your career in yachting?
Chris Stollery: I sailed with my family for pleasure until I was eight-years-old when my brothers introduced me to the dinghy class. Since then I have been involved with different projects as crew, in charge of deliveries, maintenance and trimmer during regattas.
When I was 18-years-old I decided that the sea was my passion, and a perfect way to keep traveling and meeting people around the world. For this reason I followed my career path for two years obtaining different commercial certificates, and today, I continue updating and upgrading my knowledge and certificates.
What attributes does one need to run a yacht?
CS: The ability to connect with all kinds of people to make them feel comfortable. Be positive and kind with guests, to create a nice atmosphere on board. Show good manners at all times. Be a leader whom people trust onboard to conduct all kinds of activities. Entertainment and teamwork are key within the crew for success.
There are many aspects to working as a Captain on a luxury yacht. What is the most pleasurable part and what, on the other hand, is the most challenging?
CS: The most pleasurable part is showing people amazing places on the sea, the inland or under the water, and observe how they enjoy their holidays. It is challenging to please everyone and to be lucky with the weather.
Can you tell me about the most memorable or magnificent experience you have had on the water?
CS: The most recent experience was after a perfect sailing day from Capri to the Aeolian Islands, just arriving at the Stromboli Island with a fantastic sunset at our stern and seeing the constant flowing of lava coming from the crater toward the sea ahead of us.
Last year in Montenegro sailing the salt water lakes, where we felt as if we were sailing in the fjords. We also really enjoyed diving around the wrecks from the Second World War.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
CS: As an active person I love to go with Natalia to wild places to practice kite surfing, diving, find various adventures like renting a bike to discover new and different places and things to do. I also like to meet local people to share experiences with and have fun.
You work together with Natalia Sanchez, Stewardess and a talented Chef. Can you introduce her to our readers and charter guests?
CS: Natalia, without a doubt, is the person on board who naturally loves to take care of all the small day-to-day idiosyncrasies, starting by connecting with guests to please them right from the beginning. Regarding Victoria 67 Catamaran LIR she is always giving that little touch to the interiors to be seen by the guests as if each day was the first day of their charter. In the galley she is a real surprise due to her love of cooking based on the fresh food found daily wherever we might be, to complement the main dishes. As she has a strong background in catering she can improvise all week in different ways depending on each day’s needs or likes of the individual guests.
In the water she loves to teach people using the wake board, snorkel or jump into the water to tighten the stern line to a tree. Natalia always goes with the dinghy to find the local markets, to buy fresh food in the mornings and during sailing she helps me with everything, including skippering when needed. In a few words Natalia is a joy on board and always smiling.
LIR yacht spends the European season in the Mediterranean and moves to the Caribbean for winter. What is your favorite place in both of the destinations?
CS: In the Med the top one has to be the Aeolian Islands in Sicily and Montenegro in the Eastern Mediterranean as an interesting destination with plenty of things to see and do. The Balearic Islands are also a fantastic place for a yacht charter.
In the Caribbean the British Virgin Islands as a well-organized place with a lot of different itineraries for a week’s charter, depending on the guests’ preferences. Grenadines are a great destination for guests whom prefer the wild and natural habitats.
For those less experienced in yacht charter, what can guests expect when embarking on a holiday aboard LIR? Can you describe a typical day aboard charter yacht LIR? How do you determine a yacht charter itinerary?
CS: First of all, we greet our guests with a really nice welcome cocktail, then we introduce ourselves, explaining our roles as a crew, followed by the captain. We continue with a safety briefing explaining how to behave on board a vessel at sea. We need to find out if any guests have allergies so that they can inform us of the best way to assist in case of an emergency. Before taking them to their cabins, establish if any guests are sensitive to seasickness to allocate them the stern cabin. Normally, before dinner, we talk about my suggested itinerary so that the guests can discuss this during dinner.
The following morning, during breakfast, I normally take the chart to the table to explain my initial plan and be ready to change it according to our guests’ suggestions. Following this I would set up a plan for the week, showing them the weather forecast and making sure that they are aware of the fact that if the weather changes the itinerary might change as well; this is to avoid possible misunderstandings during the week.
CS: Before setting off, I will invite the guests for a swim to cool down and get used to the local sea conditions. Normally on the first day I do a check dive for the divers, so that we are ready once we have arrived at the nice spots. Lunch should be light and fresh, followed by an afternoon sailing, water sports, beach time, dive or siesta before cocktails.
Dinner time is when guests will find the cockpit and dinner table properly dressed. After dinner we usually offer drinks, followed by the crew going to bed. Normally, for safety reasons, each night one of us will stay up until the last guest has retired.
Then improvise day-by-day by asking and recommending the options of each island, cove, village etc., and change the itinerary according to the weather conditions.
Would you recommend LIR to families with children as well as couples holidaying with friends?
CS: Yes, why not, we love children and we are prepared with different equipment for them. We have experience with different types of charterers, from couples that don´t know each other to groups of guests invited by the company where they work or just families, friends etc.
What activities would you suggest for families with small or teenage children?
CS: We have water sports for all ages excluding diving. When the child/children are older than 16 years and depending on the situation, I can, as a fully qualified dive instructor, conduct a Discover Scuba diving program. In addition we have plenty of films, games etc.
What would you say to clients that never chartered a yacht and are considering it, as opposed to staying at a luxury resort or a hotel?
CS: On a boat there are many aspects that make a big difference as opposed to a hotel. Just arriving at the marina, where the boat is waiting for her guests, is a fantastic and more personal experience. The crew is ready and waiting for you, and that feeling of exclusivity and luxury is priceless. During the entire trip guests will not need to organize any visits to places they would like to see, adventures to be part of nor take care of their dinner bookings. On board LIR, the crew will take care of all the guests’ needs at any time. LIR is well equipped with amenities and water toys, where guests can enjoy water sports, diving, snorkeling, going to the beach for a picnic or just relaxing in the hammock with a cocktail.
With reference to the food, LIR has a high quality galley where the chef cooks to the same standard as a luxury restaurant on land. There is no need to go out, unless of course the guests wish to go ashore. The crew is well trained and qualified in all aspects, so that guests will receive an exclusive and professional service. Holidays at sea are a totally relaxing experience where, in one week, there is enough time to satisfy almost everyone’s wishes and expectations.
A yacht can, for example, access coves that would result impossible to reach from land and the landscape is constantly changing during a yacht charter, compared to staying in a hotel in one place the entire time.
What do you think makes LIR unique, compared with other catamarans on the market?
CS: What makes LIR special is the happy and totally professional ambience on board the most beautiful catamaran designed and fitted out to date. LIR is also the latest Fountaine Pajot Flagship Class Victoria 67 yacht and she was designed by Berret Racoupeau. At the moment it is the second unit afloat and possibly the only one offered for charter, as well as being a brand new catamaran launched in spring 2014.
“It could not be better. Chris – Great captain, smart, well-educated knows the area and very helpful. We saw much more things than last time we’ve been here. We owe this to Chris. Natalia – We never ate so well before. We had good chefs before, however, Natalia did a great job every day through the whole charter. She is a great chef and very nice! Steward – Connor is very helpful and friendly. Great team and nice cat! Maybe it was the best crew we’ve ever had.“ - Charter Guests chartering Catamaran LIR in Italy, July 2014
[This interview originally appeared on CharterWorld-Luxury Yacht Charters]