An afternoon on board St David Super-yacht with Captain Bitouzet
by Kay Hare
I was invited on board my favourite super-yacht, St David at Cannes Yacht Show. Luckily it was anchored out so we took a tender to enjoy the views and afternoon tea on board.
The friendliest yacht, we are greeted with savoury snacks and melt in your mouth freshly baked cakes. Cannes this year was warm and late afternoon was the perfect time to relax on board and find out a little more about what has been happening over the summer.
I wondered why we were moored out this year and not in the port. Captain Jean-Marc Bitouzet explained that Cannes is quite easy to manoeuvre around the port and it was just more convenient this year to stay out of the port. However, with a 60m super-yacht like St David, some ports are not so easy. There is one position in Cannes which is quite tricky and the yacht club area of Monaco is pretty tight but with experience and a good crew, most ports are easily managed. The first thing to do is to look at the current, wind and exactly how the boat will be moving. One of the most difficult ports is Porto Cervo in Sardinia. Another port that has its challenges especially with 60m to turn around is Bonifacio in Corsica. This is a fjord that midway you have to turn the boat around as there is only 5m one side and 5m the other side.
Once the manoeuvring at the port is over there is the more time-consuming job of administration. Each port has different rules that have to be respected. Sometimes specific courses are required to follow and understand the regulations which can be 3-4 pages long. The trick to some of the hot spots in the Mediterranean is having your smaller private yacht then life is much easier than chartering and less administration.
The best part of Bitouzet’s job is his office window which changes each day. However, this comes at a price. There are more and more serious rules to comply with in order to enjoy this luxury. The Captains workload and the Chief Officers duties are going up each day. The three main administrative bodies that come with strong environmental rules; Marpol, ISM and IMO. These can involve 2-3 different forms which have by law be respected. ISM and IPS regulations also come with a weeks course to understand the forms and the safety rules. IMO is the controlling body and the crew have to take courses to comply with their regulations. Every few months the crew and staff have to train onboard and follow the health and safety drills. The yachting industry has one of the most challenging rules and regulation precautions and administrative duties of all the industries. If a helicopter is on board a whole new set of legal rules have to be understood and complied to. Not forgetting the coast guard rules, paradise is not so easy.
Jean-Marc loves Croatia and I asked how it compared to Sardinia. He said Sardinia is good especially the South, West and East coast, however, the North coast is too busy. It is like a boat park for yachts. In his opinion, there is more to offer in Corsica but Croatia still tops all of them for the quietness and unspoilt bays that you don’t need to visit twice.
Frequently sailing in Croatia Bitouzet really enjoys anchoring off near a lake in Croatia that you can take a tender to, there you will find three small idyllic private islands, a real treat for charters. Also, just off Montenegro, to the North side, there are two islands with two churches. This area is called Kotor Bay and is heaven on earth. He described another area of outstanding natural beauty, Mali Ston. Apart from having the best seafood restaurant he described anchoring one full moon night that was full of stars on a 9-week charter that has fond memories. With these magical settings and islands that are framed with willow trees it is difficult to beat. Another area is Trogir near Split which has a fantastic bay to anchor down only 30 metres from shore. Once here you have the whole bay in which to play.
Apart from the views changing every day Jean-Marc loves to spoil his clients and will listen to their requirements and ideas. When a client is truly happy it is the best job in the world.
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