The heart of Norway's fjord country, with Bergen as its base, is not your typical charter destination. I find myself here by sheer luck of timing and the yacht owner's personal cruising schedule, which likely will be the parameters for you, too, if you want to charter in Scandinavia. The season is so short and the location so far from the popular Western Mediterranean that only a handful of international charter yachts visit each summer. In January, Peter Insull's announced that the 158-foot motoryacht Grace had just become the first superyacht to position year-round for charter in Norway's fjords, but in general, charters here remain catch-as-catch-can, as mine is. Early Purple's owners are preparing for a 200-mile cruise up Norway's west coast, where the yacht will sail through the fjords at Viking friendly latitudes north of the parallel that crosses Juneau, Alaska. They arrive in a week, which gives the crew time to squeeze in a quick charter with me.
It will be only the third charter that Early Purple has performed since the owners took possession of the 2002 build in 2006.
"Charter has not been the priority for this boat," Houal tells me, rattling off the list of destinations the owners have sailed during the previous three years. There's Houal's own hometown of Brittany, France, followed by the Côte d'Azur, Corsica, Italy, the Caribbean, Cuba, and Scotland. "Beginning in winter 2009-10, we plan to pick up our charter schedule more than in the past. We will start in Saint Maarten and then move during the summer of 2010 to someplace new. Maybe South America. Maybe the South Pacific."