Sherakhan is a charter yacht that has always been beyond the norm. She launched in 2005 to great acclaim — a gorgeous, 228-foot yacht rebuilt from the remains of a dilapidated commercial ship. She was among the first crewed yachts to offer true-luxury accommodations for oversize groups, taking 26 guests during a time when it was virtually unheard of to welcome more than 12. Sherakhan’s 18-person sun-deck hot tub fast became the stuff of legendary cocktail parties, and her two-story formal dining room remains among the most impressive spaces in yachting. Did I mention the onboard spa? She was one of the first charter yachts to have one of those too.
Now it’s eight years later, and Sherakhan’s owner is eager to make new waves. The yacht has enjoyed a successful charter career in the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds, and she has dabbled in far-off adventures with two trips to Patagonia and Antarctica, first in 2010 and again earlier this year.
It was there that the owner had a vision for how Sherakhan can set yet another bar for unique charter experiences.
“I met some other guys when we were in Antarctica, and they were going to South Africa,” the owner says. “I thought, ‘Why aren’t we going to South Africa?’ Because from there you can see the Maldives, the Seychelles, and from there go to Southeast Asia and to Fiji. We can combine all of the best destinations. Sure, we can keep doing what everybody is always doing — back and forth to the Mediterranean and Caribbean — but I think there is a big group of people who are like me. They also want to see something special.”
Sherakhan is thus planning a circumnavigation that will follow a charter-driven path around the world for the entirety of 2014. She will start in the Caribbean this winter and then go to Antarctica, South Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Central America before returning to the Caribbean for the winter 2014-15 season.
The owner has planned a route that not only will include emerging charter hot spots such as the Maldives and Bali, but that also will avoid piracy zones like the one off the coast of Somalia. He wants to take guests scuba diving in little-visited locales like Irian Jaya, and then tender them ashore in parts of Papua New Guinea where tribal culture still dominates. He wants to show them the surprisingly British culture of the remote Falkland Islands, as well as help them navigate places like Madagascar and Brunei, where luxury yacht charter is practically unknown. His goal is to offer both returning and new charter clients experiences that they simply can’t find aboard any other yacht.
“When I go cruising in Croatia, I don’t even need a map because I know where everything is, from cruising there so many times,” he says. “It’s really exciting to go beyond the basic itinerary.”
Enjoying the adventure comes at a price. In most parts of the world, the day rate to charter Sherakhan will be 55,000 euros, or about $72,000 based on the exchange rate at press time. That per-day base rate will go up to 65,000 euros, or about $85,000, in the Amazon and Antarctica, where, among other things, special gear and tenders must be used to keep guests safe and comfortable.
Included, though, will be the years of experience that Sherakhan’s owner and crew have earned while chartering near and far. Clients will enjoy a level of service that is common in a five-star hotel, but aboard what is essentially a small steel ship with enough freezer space to carry food for half a year. System redundancies are already in place, and communications networks have been sorted out. There’s even an electric generator on board that can serve as a get-home engine to power the yacht to the nearest port at 8 knots in case of main-engine failure.
All the charter client has to do is point at a location on a map, ask which dates Sherakhan will be there next year and then step aboard with a sense of adventure.
“People all go to the same bars, to the same restaurants, to the same beaches; they eat the same food and they see the same things,” the owner says. “When you go into these other parts of the world, everything changes. Our clients want to show their kids that there is more to the world than St. Tropez — and I really believe in that.”
Sherakhan takes 26 guests with a weekly base rate that varies upon destination. YCO Yacht, +33 622 167 778; ycoyacht.com