What makes the perfect yacht? Ask this question and a clamour of industry voices will instantly jump in with replies as diverse as ‘the build quality’, ‘an innovative design’, ‘excellent performance on the water’ – the list goes on.
Providing an answer is one of the key drivers behind the superyacht business: shipyards and brokers make it their life’s work to manufacture and sell the ‘perfect yacht’ to potential clients, which can prove to be both an exhilarating and a challenging task.
For one particular superyacht owner, however, the perfect yacht is already very much in existence. It comes in the form of the 39.6-metre Maiora superyacht Always Believe, originally built under the name Why Worry back in 2008, and has been under the proud ownership of Belgian-born Nadine Abrahams since 2014.
Photo: Stuart PierceWith the ongoing coronavirus pandemic causing an unfortunate stall in Nadine’s plans to spend time on board with family and friends, we take this rare opportunity to catch up with her over a slightly grainy Skype call to discover what makes this particular Italian build so special, and how she’s looking to expand her fleet in the future.
Photo: Nadine AbrahamsLove at first sight
Nadine Abrahams is not, by her own admission, a ‘born and bred boatie’. She was actually in the market for a different kind of investment altogether when she came across Always Believe (then cruising under the name Why Worry) in Port Adriano in Majorca.
“I was looking for an apartment at the time and didn’t have it in mind to buy a boat,” she laughs. “My daughters and I had recently seen a few boats and they were really not good looking at all. Then we stepped out of the car and saw this one, and it was like, 'Wow, she is so beautiful’. Inside she was even more beautiful, it was a fantastic moment.”
Photo: Nadine AbrahamsReady-made luxury
With her exteriors originating from the drawing boards of Italian designer and long-term Maiora collaborator Roberto Del Re, and her contemporary interiors created by the shipyard in collaboration with the Portuguese studio SA&V (Sa Aranha & Vasconcelos), Always Believe, to Nadine, was flawless.
“She was really beautiful as she was. I didn’t want to change anything. The only thing we changed was the towels and the plates: the rest we kept the same.”
Photo: Stuart PierceOver the course of Nadine’s six-year ownership journey so far, Always Believe has undergone just one minor structural alteration – a hardtop was added to the sundeck three years ago to protect those on board from the worst of the elements.
“Now it is a space that you can always use,” Nadine explains. “Before it would get too hot or there was too much wind. Now you can sit there even in wintertime, and in summer you can open everything up. If you ask me about my favourite part of the boat, I can’t choose. When I want sun I go and sit in the front, when I want shade I go to the back. It’s ideal!”
Photo: Stuart PierceMagical Majorca
Boat bought at last, the next question on any owner’s lips is, of course, where to take her. For Nadine, the answer was simple: her all-time favourite holiday spot, Majorca, where she loves to spend quality time with her two daughters.
“Last year, I went to Cote D’Azure and Portofino and I liked it very much, but I like to be in Majorca so much more because of all the bays there. When it is bad weather in the north, you can go to the south and vice versa, so you can be out on the water every day without having to move anywhere.”
Photo: Nadine AbrahamsThis affinity for the Balearic island also means that Nadine can keep her crew close to home. As she explains, “My four regular crew are all from Majorca, meaning that they can all go back to their houses after working on the boat and don’t have to sleep there.”
Photo: Stuart PearceNaturally, relationships between crew and owner vary dramatically, from those who look to maintain a clear distance to those keen for the crew to feel part of the family.
For Nadine, it’s all about establishing mutual respect and understanding. “They are good to us, and we are good to them. If it’s too hot for me, it’s also too hot for them so I say, ‘go on and have a swim if you want!’ We have a very good crew and a fantastic captain.”
Photo: Stuart PearceA Starter for charter
In a classic example of unfortunate timing, this summer was set up to be Always Believe’s debut charter season. This plan has, understandably, now been delayed until next year due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic. “I think it’s better: I have owned her for six years already so I can wait one more year to charter her. I’m not sure I like the idea of having strangers staying on my boat during these times.”
Photo: Stuart PearceIndeed, despite it being just a quick two-hour flight between Nadine’s home in Belgium to Majorca, current travel restrictions have prevented her from accessing her boat at all this year, and she is unsure about when she will be able to visit again at the time of writing.
This stands in stark comparison to last year, when she managed to spend a whole summer holiday on board with family and friends. Speaking to straight-talking Nadine, it is clear that she genuinely values sharing her good fortune with others. “It's not that you have a boat and that you're worth more than somebody else. So I just try to be good for everybody - sometimes in a bigger way, and sometimes through a small act.
"In general, I am very happy and grateful that I have what I have and I want to let people enjoy a little bit of that. Because I really do know that I am a very lucky lady.”
Photo: Stuart PearceCanine companions
Outside of yachting and other travel (recent destinations include New York, the Maldives, Dubai and Bora Bora, but always by plane, not yacht), one of Nadine’s most obvious passions in life is animals. Indeed, two of Nadine’s most enthusiastic companions on board her yacht are her two dachshunds, Lilly and Dolf.
Alongside these two tiny terrors, Nadine’s menagerie at home includes four cats, two Great Danes, Poppy and Lou, as well as two donkeys - whom I have the pleasure of being introduced to over video by their animated owner, and who, unfortunately, don’t get to enjoy much quality time on board the yacht.
Despite no longer having the freedom to hop on a plane and head to her yacht, the slower pace of life enforced upon all of us recently has given Nadine plenty of time to reflect. “We are all used to having a fast life.
"Things were always going faster and faster and people were used to being able to do whatever they want. Now people must stay at home and we don’t go anywhere. We’ve all been made to stop. Enjoying life and staying healthy - that is the most important thing. If I am still doing all the things that I am doing now in the future, then I’m all good.”Photo: Stuart PearceFast forward five years, however, and Nadine might just have another toy to show for herself. “I already know what boat I would buy next. I will always keep this one and I won’t be looking to sell her, but I spent some time on a 50-metre Mangusta 165 last summer and really liked her. She is so beautiful and so fast. That’s the kind of boat I like: more of a sporty look, I don’t like ones with three decks, so my new boat would need to be like this Mangusta.”
However, she’s in no rush at the moment: “The right Mangusta will come to me when the time is right. I’m not going to search for her - whether it’s this year, or the next, or after three years, I can wait. And when she does, I must have the same reaction as I did when I first stepped on board Always Believe, it must be ‘wow, I don’t want to change anything’, otherwise I’m not going to buy it.”
Photo: Nadine AbrahamsIt’s a sentiment driven by a long-held belief that patience, determination, hard work and good fortune will get you where you need to be. “Every year we’d go to the port in Majorca and I always saw the big boats and said to myself: ‘Someday I’m going to have one like that’ – and then I had a little bit of luck so I could. When your dream comes true, it’s amazing! Buying a boat was the best decision I ever made in my life.”
And who can argue with that?
This article was first featured in The SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscribe now to receive your copy straight to your door and never miss another issue.
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