On the bridge deck too, Harle’s design is true to her purpose. There is an outdoor dining table, as well as sliding doors that lead to what is traditionally a sky lounge — but aboard Harle, the teak sole continues all the way to the bulkhead, in anticipation of visitors spilling a bit of red wine. Tables and chairs are modular to allow for everything from boardroom-style conferences to cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres. Large windows can be opened to keep air circulating among dancing crowds.
“We are set up and well trained for events,” Edmonds told me, “but for charter, we are not interested in wild and crazy parties. We like families and people who want things like birthday or anniversary parties. We love nice people having a good time, and we’re good at providing it.”
That was certainly true during my time aboard. I found Harle to be wonderfully comfortable for a “regular” charter with just seven guests, especially on the sun deck, where the hot tub and sun pads are terrific. Harle is, after all, a Feadship, and she embodies the quality construction and interior elegance for which the Dutch shipyard is renowned. From the soundproofing to the zero-speed stabilizers and the state-of-the-art Apple media system, Harle offered a delightful ambience.
I also found Edmonds and his crew to be charming professionals who welcomed the idea of getting to know a small group and exceeding its every expectation in terms of food, service and smiles. They can do intimate, elegant gatherings just as well as they do massive parties, as evidenced by our four-course dinners with beluga caviar, Wagyu beef and fresh foie gras.
As you read this, Harle is in Florida completing her five-year survey and getting a new paint job. She’ll spend this coming summer in the Western Mediterranean with a visit to the Olympic Games in London (what better place to hold a bash?) and then likely will go to the Caribbean for the winter 2012-13 charter season. During summer 2013, the crew told me, it’s hoped that Harle will return to Croatia — where there’s less hobnobbing and a great deal of picturesque solitude.
One-week itineraries (in keeping with Croatian charter laws) can run from Venice, Italy, to Dubrovnik, Croatia, or from Split, Croatia, to Kotor, Montenegro. This region is filled with experiences that are fast making Croatia a favorite Eastern Mediterranean yachting destination. My favorite spot was Dubrovnik, where the hourlong walk around the ancient stone wall was one of the most majestic of my life. Others in our group were just as mesmerized by Kotor.
“The Bay of Kotor is impossibly beautiful,” says Ann Landry, a longtime charter broker with Northrop & Johnson. “It’s in my all-time top five places, up there with the Maori house in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands,
the Lost Man Trail on the Continental Divide and the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. It just feels very spiritual there.”
One might argue that nature built the place, like Feadhip built Harle, with a purpose. In either case, it’s hard to argue with perfection.
See a complete photo gallery here.
FUEL: 10,500 gal.
WATER: 2,600 gal.
ENGINES: 2 x MTU 12V2000M70 diesels
STABILIZERS: VT Naiad Marine zero-speed
SPEED: 14 knots max, 12 knots cruise
RANGE: 4,500 miles at 10 knots
GUESTS: 10 to 12 in five staterooms plus a convertible office.
BASE RATE: $240,000 per week
Northrop & Johnson
Summer 2012: Western Mediterranean with a visit to London
Winter 2012-2013: Caribbean
Summer 2013: Croatia