Martin Secot, La Sirena:
Martin was a high school history teacher until the age of 34, when he retired to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to run his own bar. He also helped open Yacht Haven Grande and its restaurants, including Wikked, where he was the first bartender. Naturally, he saw a lot of superyachts put in, including Rising Sun, and became friendly with visiting crew and owners. When Martin’s buddies returned to Yacht Haven Grande the following season, they persuaded him to get his STCW-95 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) certification.
“I did it and really wasn’t even looking for a boat but some owners of a yacht that were regulars of mine loved my Bloody Marys and hired me out of the bar,” said Martin. “I got into the game a little late but dedication and knowing a lot of people has helped me climb up pretty fast.” Three years after he started, Martin is almost done with his OOW (Officer of the Watch) certification and is the captain of a 90-foot Broward yacht.
Susan Scheer, Phantom:
If you’re a frequent cruiser of Central American and Caribbean waters, you might have run across Susan Scheer aboard her 93-foot steel expedition boat Phantom. A documentary filmmaker who became an independent producer for the Discovery Channel, Arts and Entertainment and the Disney Channel, Scheer began her own stock photo business after 15 years, when her son Matthias was born
“Great American Stock allowed me to manage my own schedule. I sold the library to the Military Channel when my son was about seven and took off traveling across the states in an RV. That was divorce number 1 ... 47 states later I started up Great American Stock again and remarried my former husband, Peter ...” Susan’s husband was a surgeon and together they built a new surgery center in the desert. A few years later, Susan and Peter, who were already regular sailors, decided to sell everything and go cruising.
“I went to get my captain’s license at Chapman School of Seamanship in Florida. Meanwhile, Peter bought a big, old 90-foot crew boat named Phantom and started refitting it. It was almost divorce number 2, but I decided what the hell ...”
Susan and Matthias, who was now 12, moved to Canada and spent a year overseeing Phantom’s transformation from crew boat to expedition vessel. When the work was done, they set off cruising, but somehow Peter never managed to join the party. Now divorced, Scheer kept the dream and the boat, and has cruised constantly for the past seven years, homeschooling Matthias along the way.
Phantom started chartering in 2005 with a treasure hunting adventure in the Perlas Islands of Panama that took it across the canal and into the Pacific. Susan and Matthias ventured to Cocos Island for a diving charter with a few friends and were hooked. “The diving was fantastic ... hammerheads, bait balls, whale sharks, humpbacks ... Phantom has been there four times in the past few years,“ notes Scheer. She has also journeyed to El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Columbia and Ecuador.
“We studied languages and my son graduated from high school, got his dive master training and is on his way to Scripp’s Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego. We were hired for the Panamax Exercises in 2008, 2009 and 2010, military exercises where we acted out various roles as a drug smuggling vessel, a weapon carrying vessel and a threat to the canal. We were boarded by various foreign military navies and searched … All great experiences.”
Phantom is now available to charter for research, as a filming platform, a support vessel or as a mother ship in the Central American and Caribbean regions. www.phantomexplorer.com.