King of clubs. King of diamonds.
I return my Texas Hold ’em hand to its face-down position and glance across the table. Kevin Bonnie, managing director of International Yacht Collection’s Monaco office, is deciding whether to check or raise. This is a guy whose job depends on sniffing out bluffs at the highest levels, whose most recent sales listing is for a $54 million megayacht. Sure, we’re only playing for 10 euro apiece tonight, and everybody is feeling friendly after a three-course gourmet dinner aboard the 183-foot Benetti Four Aces, at anchor in Corsica’s Girolata Bay under an enchanting night sky — but the fact of the matter is that I have a killer hand. I’m up against a shark, and I want the glory of taking his chips.
Bosun Casey Burrows — who could have a career splitting pots in Las Vegas should her yachting career fail her — lays down the flop. Three of diamonds, seven of spades, jack of clubs.
I raise, but not so much as to seem anxious. Bonnie looks me over. He bites.
The turn is a two of hearts. I raise again, barely enough to raise suspicion. Bonnie deposits more chips in the middle. I try desperately to look nonchalant, which is kind of like trying desperately not to breathe. Burrows readies the river card with an intriguing grin.
And that’s when we hear the scream. We all bolt from our seats and rush to the stern rail, arriving just in time to see a pair of Four Aces guests leap from the bridge deck into the Mediterranean for a refreshing starlight swim. Howls of laughter continue well past midnight, with the wine flowing and the Kaleidescape system pumping out sing-along songs. It’s the perfect ending to yet another perfect day of chartering around the island of Corsica, alternating memorable tours of historic towns with the enjoyment of every possible modern amenity aboard Four Aces.
Today was doing water sports in Girolata Bay, zipping past a centuries-old fishing village on 70 mph Yamaha WaveRunners. Yesterday was standing atop the 900-year- old citadel walls of Calvi after a leisurely nap courtesy of the two-level master suite’s blackout shades. Tomorrow will be exploring behind the imposing cliffs of Bonifacio from the 33- foot Intrepid tender. This charter, I soon realize, is the perfect combination of natural beauty and manmade comfort. We are far from the South of France mainland, substituting flipflops for stiletto heels and replacing thumping discotheques with cobblestone streets. And yet, we have everything that a guest in a five-star hotel in St. Tropez would enjoy, not to mention zero-speed stabilizers, a sprawling sun deck with pool-size Jacuzzi and a drop-down swim platform that turns the lazarette into water-toy paradise.