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Travels with 46m explorer yacht Qing by Cheoy Lee

Travel
Written by
Georgia Tindale

What goes through your head when you see an image or a video of a superyacht in an exotic location on Instagram or YouTube? Amazement, excitement, a sense of wonder perhaps? You might also feel inspired, motivated or taken over by a feeling of wanderlust, with, ‘If only I could get out of this office and go travelling!’ running through your head. 

Qing yachtPhoto: Camper & NicholsonsWhatever your reaction, it has to be said that one of the true pleasures which comes as a consequence of working in the superyacht industry is the vicarious enjoyment gained by seeing some of the world’s most extraordinary locations visited by our owners and yachts, an experience which has been heightened by the ever-increasing importance of platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. The motivation to get out there and see the world for themselves is strong among many of today’s owners and is often far stronger than the desire to own a yacht for its own sake. And, in 2019, the urge towards exploration shows no signs of dying down as a driving force for new entrants into superyacht ownership.

When the owner of 46-metre Cheoy Lee explorer yacht Qing was looking to make this considerable step up after previously owning an 18-foot Sea Ray boat, this desire for adventure was high on the agenda. As he explains, “I have always done a lot of adventure sports: I raced motorcycles, I have done mountain and ice climbing and lots more, so I just thought this could be a cool way of having an adventure with your family and having them in comfort rather than camping in a tent in the desert.” As a consequence, his new boat also had to fit the bill with its adventure capabilities. As her owner explains, “I knew I wanted it to have a steel hull and for it to be an explorer. I did not want an Italian boat that would just sit in a marina. No offence to Italian boats as they do look great, but our goal was to go to places that you could not get to easily in any other way but by boat.” 

Qing’s distinctive red hull caught her future owner’s attention at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, who subsequently spent time chartering in the BVI with his family, carefully considering the pros and cons of other boats over the course of a year and then coming back full circle, striking a deal with the Chinese yard, Cheoy Lee, who were selling explorer yacht Qing (then known as Mazu) during what he describes as “a truly terrible time for the global economy.”

Qing yachtPhoto: Camper & NicholsonsTaking his retirement at the age of 43, Qing’s new owner had a bucket list of places to go and soon came up against his next challenge: finding a crew who were willing to spend an average of between 6-8 months a year on board. As he puts it, “We were new to yachting and it took us a while to find a crew that were prepared to be that far away from the world for so long. Eventually, we found the people that were interested in the kind of things we wanted to do. When you spend so much time on board, the crew is the only social experience outside of your family and so they kind of become part of your family. They work 16 to 17 hours per day, seven days a week for months on end, so we make sure that they get time off and split it up - say that they come spearfishing or scuba diving, one half might go in the morning and the other in the afternoon.”

As well as figuring out how to navigate these crew dynamics, dealing with the inevitable practicalities of superyacht ownership came next for Qing’s new owners. A hull repaint, mechanical upgrades to the vessel, changes to the decoration and various other works kept the owners occupied for a year until she was well and truly shipshape and ready to go world cruising. And, over the course of the last five years, world cruising she has been. Owner, family and crew began by testing out Qing’s capabilities in The Bahamas - easily accessible from the family’s base in Miami - a location which still ranks in their top five places to visit, according to her owner. 

Since then, Qing has placed her pin firmly on the map, venturing through areas as diverse as the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Australia, Palau, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Samoa and the Marshall Islands, Yap Island and all around Micronesia. Notably, Qing has never been to Europe: as her owner explains, “We always wanted to use our explorer yacht to explore - that’s the kind of cruising we want to be doing.” As you might expect, over the course of all of these explorations, Qing and company have gathered a vast collection of intriguing anecdotes from these fascinating and remote areas of the world, many of which they have documented using drone footage. Sitting down with Qing’s owner, we get a flavour of just some of the life-changing experiences he has enjoyed on board his unique superyacht.

Qing yachtPhoto: Camper & NicholsonsDarién region, Panama 

“We had our first cool adventure in Panama, in the Darién region. What is amazing about it is that it is so close to America, but yet still so remote. People were coming up in their canoes and you see the older women over the age of 60 with their facial tattoos who are topless and only wearing skirts; you see the middle-aged women in tank tops and shirts and then you see the teenage girls who are dressed like everybody else. Within three generations, they have gone from jungle warriors to modernized young people.”

Travel experience on board Qing yachtPhoto: Artak PetrosyanSpearfishing in French Polynesia 

“There is this spot in French Polynesia where we parked the boat in the atoll and took a smaller boat out around 40 miles to this pinnacle. When we got into the water, we had these two humpback whales circling us and singing for us for three hours. Our guide told us that no one ever has spearfished at that pinnacle as it is just too far out. He had wanted to go there for four years but it was only with our boat that he was able to do this. It gives us access to places that you just can’t get to otherwise.”

Travel experience on board Qing yachtPhoto: Marek OkonShark attack

“Once when I was out spearfishing, I was surrounded by roughly 100 sharks, blacktip and whitetip sharks, tiger sharks, pretty much everything. We shot 18 big fish that day but only got two in the boat. The other 16 were taken by those sharks. With spearfishing, there is this massive physical challenge to hold your breath because you are hunting an animal in an environment completely foreign to your body. You need to be able to understand animal behaviour, how to sneak up on them and finish the job. At the same time, you get this zen-like state because it is all about holding your breath. My average dive is probably 1:30 to 1:45 minutes and I have managed 2:30. But on that one, even my wife does not believe me.”

Travel experience on board Qing yachtPhoto: Jakob OwensPapua New Guinea

“My number one rule for my travels is that I do not want to go anywhere where cruise ships can go, but you can get these small Russian cruise ships with 100 people on board which go to these remote places. We decided to go to this atoll in far eastern Papua New Guinea which we didn’t know anything about. Upon arrival, there were all these people dressed up in their finest outfits who doing these dances and songs and then gave us a tour of the village. We thought this was the most amazing reception we ever had. But we found out that they expected a new cruise ship arrival for the next day and were just practising with us.”

Travel experience on board Qing yachtPhoto: Marek OkonClean Water Programmes

“We have done clean water programs at a lot of the remote places we have been to. We always feel like we are getting something by visiting these places and we wanted to give something back. So we brought in simple systems which are easy to maintain but highly productive. We didn’t want to come in, set something up which people couldn’t maintain and add more plastic junk to the ocean. We outfitted water barrels with filters and they could easily take river water or whatever they had access to and get clean fresh water. We did a big project in Papua New Guinea and there you can really see the need because of the shocking mortality rate. You go to a village and there are 100 young kids, 20 adults and only two older people left out of the whole population.

“We also dropped off school materials at some villages because they don’t have anything. One chief told us that the government has never done anything for them and it was the first time anyone had brought them anything. My son has got stacks of books here, just dropping off 10 books at a village makes a huge difference to their lives.”

Travel experience on board Qing yachtPhoto: Yuya Hata Qing on the market

SuperYacht Times sat down with Qing’s owner and found out why, after buying the boat from her original owner at the end of 2013, he has decided to put this head-turning 46-metre Cheoy Lee explorer yacht on the market.

Qing yacht saloonPhoto: Camper & NicholsonsThe reason for selling 
My family and I absolutely loved the boat -  we still love it - and have had some truly wonderful experiences on board. But at the end of the day, it costs a lot of money to maintain whether you use the boat or not. When we were able to use Qing for 6-8 months per year, we were getting value from her, but now with my son in school and us only doing occasional weekends in The Bahamas and summer trips, it doesn’t make economic sense for us to keep her. We can downsize the boat and do different things instead.

Qing yacht dining roomPhoto: Camper & NicholsonsQing’s future owner

Someone with a sense of adventure who wants to do the same things we have been doing. Qing has proven herself and has been a great boat: she is really well designed, with a great interior, use of space and service areas. I have learned that buying a new boat is not like buying a new car. You can spend $100,000 on new upholstery and redoing the interior, but it is going to cost next to nothing compared to what it would cost you to get a boat like this built right out and all the bugs worked out. We have used it a lot, and our lives really did depend on it, so we spent much more than people normally do to keep her in tiptop shape. The next owner will definitely benefit from that.

Qing yacht master suitePhoto: Camper & NicholsonsOn what’s next 

I’ll be back on the water, even if it’s just doing trips to The Bahamas. My neighbour actually has his own shipyard in Estonia, Baltic Work Boats, which is expanding into the recreational boat market. They have a really cool wave-piercing hull design that is super effective and they sold one boat to the Fort Lauderdale pilot group. We had 30 to 35 knot winds on the day we sea-trialed it and we were going to head in to 1.5-metre to 2-metre seas at 30 knots, and it was so quiet: no roaring engines or smashing the hull. I really love seaworthy boats that you feel safe in. Getting to The Bahamas can really suck due to the wind and the countercurrent but with a boat like this, I could get there in comfort and fish there effectively. I am talking with him about a new design to make it more yachtlike at the moment, so let’s see what happens.

Qing yacht double cabinPhoto: Camper & Nicholsons

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