Capt. Warren East not only commands the 73-foot sailing catamaran Wonderful, but also helped to build her.
Captain, 73-foot sailing catamaran Wonderful
Date interviewed: December 2009
Your charter yacht, the 73-foot sailing catamaran Wonderful, looks entirely different than when I toured her a few years ago.
We spent from August 2007 until January 2008 doing a refit. The yacht had switched owners, and the new owner, who was one of our previous charter clients, asked me what I thought the boat needed to have done. I knew Wonderful well—I had helped build her, and I had run her for three and a half years—so I had some definite ideas.
The most visible change is that we painted the hull black. It looks so much more sleek and contemporary, and it’s no hotter than it used to be because our hull is aluminum. We got black rigging to match, and we painted the superstructure silver. It’s really special now.
Didn’t you also do work that is less visible, but just as important to charter guests?
We did. The biggest thing was installing two new gensets, which upgraded our air-conditioning capacity by 35 percent. That’s obviously important for comfort when you’re cruising in the islands.
We also now have three satellites for telephone and Internet access, including high-speed WiFi. It’s not included in the charter rate, and it’s not cheap; to get into my Hotmail account, I open three windows and pay about $15 before I even reach my in-box. But we do have the system just in case local, free WiFi is unavailable, in case guests absolutely need it.
Another addition was two receivers for satellite television. The guest cabins on the port side of Wonderful can watch whatever is playing in the main salon, and guests in the starboard-side cabins can watch what’s in the salon or what’s playing in the owner’s cabin.
And these sofas we’re sitting on in your main salon right now, they look different to me, too.
Yes, they were also upgraded. We went with a lot of black and silver accents, which are much more contemporary than the previous Caribbean color scheme. I think it’s safe to say we are not your average sailing catamaran that looks like every other sailing catamaran for charter.
Wonderful is an established charter yacht with an award-winning chef and you, a captain most brokers know well. How are you faring business-wise as the global recession lingers?
We’re hanging on. Business is not great, but we’re hanging on.
The problem right now is that we made so many concessions last year to get any charter business at all that we were nearly operating at half-price. Now, a year later when business looks to be starting to come back, the brokers are calling me and wanting the same deals. It’s not sustainable for the boat.
What we are doing during this winter season is offering random free days, which you can see on our website calendar, if you book a week’s charter during certain times that we have set aside. So that is something where we can keep the rate at what we need it to be to maintain the boat, but where the charter guest also gets something extra.
You’ve been in charter for quite a number of years now. Do you still love it?
It’s really in my blood, and I’m getting to do really interesting things with this boat.
I grew up on the South Coast of England, and I would sail on Sunday mornings. I went to school for industrial design and got a yacht master license, and I worked on Moorings boats in the Caribbean for a while, and then a charter guest told me that he wanted to build a yacht. He let me design and help with this build, which also led to my becoming a yacht broker for the builder, Yapluka. I actually re-sold this boat to its current owner.
I’m 36 now, and I figure I have at least one or two more years of running this boat left in me. I really do enjoy having all kinds of charter guests onboard. I would say that I especially like having kids as guests, because I have two girls and the kids remind me of them. But a group of adult drunks, well, we can have good fun there too.