I’ve been posting quite a lot of broker interviews and boat show coverage out of the West Mediterranean, Greece, Turkey, and New England, where the summer charter seasons are now under way. Today I thought we’d go to the other side of the world and Alaska, which is also a terrific summer yacht charter destination—and which rarely gets the coverage it deserves because there are no major boat shows there for reporting opportunities.
I caught up with Michael Sawyer of Infinity Yacht Charters, which is one of the leading retail charter agencies for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Here’s what he told me about happenings in the region right now.
Little seems to change in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The same handful of charter yachts appear to be available again this year.
Yes, from Seattle up to Alaska and the Inside Passage, not a lot changes. It’s not super user-friendly to bring a boat down the coast to Mexico or Central America for the winter charter season, so we don’t get a ton of new boats coming to Alaska for the summers.
But we do have one new and noteworthy boat for charter this summer: Reflections. She’s a 98-foot Broward that was built in 1982, which I know scares some people in terms of her age, but this is a great boat. (That’s Reflections in the photo at right.) I spent a night on her and looked over every inch of her, and she’s a great package. The owner, for the past 10 years, has been aboard Reflections from May through August pretty much nonstop with friends and business guests in Alaska. He spent $1.25 million refitting her over the past couple of years, and he has the yacht completely dialed out for chartering in Alaska, including a 30-foot sport boat. You can hire something like that as an add-on for other charter boats, but it’s rare to see that size of a tender with a charter yacht up here.
Plus that boat has Capt. Clint Cropper, who was born and raised in Alaska. He was a captain in the Mediterranean and Bahamas, and now he has returned to Alaska. So he knows the standards of international charter yachts, and he’s bringing that to Alaska—with a total of five professional crew. On a boat with an inclusive weekly rate of $54,000 for six guests in three cabins. A boat with that level of crew and at that price? Reflections is big news up here.
It’s now getting toward the end of June, and the charter season in Alaska is short. Is there still time to book?
There’s some availability for certain weeks right now, but, as happens every year, a lot of the long-term, been-there-forever boats are completely sold out. It would be time now to start planning for next summer.
What about September? I know it gets dicey toward the end of that month with weather, but the beginning of September can be great in that part of the world.
Early September is gorgeous. Later is a little more variable weather-wise, but all the kids are back in school and the tour boats are gone.
One of the best boats out here, Pacific Yellowfin, she is having her busiest season after a decade in charter. She’s booked through mid-August already, but there are dates open in September, and many people here feel that September is the best time of year to visit.
And Pacific Yellowfin has continually refined its Desolation Sound itinerary into being this spectacular journey through fjords. They have motorbikes, they have a new 24-foot sport boat, they run with two tenders—it’s also a great package.
Major tenders have been a part of the larger charter-yacht scene in the Bahamas and Mediterranean for a couple of years now. I guess that’s a trend coming to Alaska, too?
You could say that. The 72-foot Viaggio, she now has a 29-foot sport boat. That’s included in the rate—which is an unbelievable thing. It was already one of the smartest values I’ve ever seen, and now it’s a whole other level.
Learn more about yacht charter in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest by contacting Michael Sawyer through the Infinity Yacht Charters website.