By Lucy Chabot Reed
For 30 months, Capt. Ed Collins and Eng. Mary Krieg became part of the owner’s family on M/Y Nomadess. The owners lived aboard their new 121-foot Benetti Classic on a round-the-world voyage, and the couple and their four crew managed to adjust their professional life to mesh with the personal life they were invited to share with the owners.
Nomadess was specially built for this trip, with Capt. Collins and Krieg in on the build from the beginning. That, they say, was the first key to a successful journey.
“It was super important for us to be involved in the build for two reasons: first, we needed to learn about the vessel and trust the vessel right off the bat, and second, we needed to get it right,” Capt. Collins said. “It can take a year to get a boat ready for a trip like that, and we wanted to be ready right away.”
The couple spoke about their trip at the 18th Benetti Yachtmaster, held in Miami in May. They described the other alterations they made to the standard build, including increasing the size of the stabilizers, adding more linkage of chain, and adding larger tenders. They did their shake-down cruise in the Med to be close to Benetti for any warranty issues, which were few.
“The boat is very American, shady and open air,” Krieg said, noting that the owners redesigned the upper deck for their specific use.
Capt. Collins, who has worked for the owners for 16 years, and Krieg, who has worked for them 11 years, had already gone around the world with them on their 75-foot sailing yacht. But then the owner saw a Benetti.
“The owner just fell in love with the design and asked ‘Can we go around the world in something like that?’” Capt. Collins recalled. “We looked at old Deltas and researched other vessels, but we came back to Benetti. It took two years of due diligence to make sure the boat would do what we wanted it to, and for the owner to make up his mind.”
Several other stars aligned to turn this dream into a successful adventure, they said. In addition to being involved with the build from the beginning, Krieg spent months contacting equipment manufacturers and asking lots of questions.
“I asked them what could go wrong,” she said. “They always tell you nothing will go wrong, but I pressed and said if something were to go wrong, what would it be? Then I stocked those parts.”
And believe it or not, one big reason the trip was successful was because the owners lived aboard.
“We had no hard dates to follow,” Capt. Collins said. “With the owners on board, we were able to follow the weather, and that made every passage more enjoyable.”
One of the highlights of the trip, which took them across the Mediterranean, into the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal to Alaska and around the South Pacific, was doing relief work with YachtAid Global. They were in Papeete in French Polynesia when Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, so they made way to the relief center and, working with YAG, loaded the yacht with windows, paint, mattresses and more to rebuild two operating rooms at the hospital. They also visited three villages and, for 24 hours at each stop, made fresh water.
“They collect water from their roofs, but the roofs had all been blown away,” Capt. Collins said. “Mary made 36,000 liters of water that would last them until the New Zealand military arrived.
“The owners loved it,” he said. “They’ve always been YAG clients and have done this work all over the world. And the crew feel good about it too.”
Lest anyone think the adventure was without complications, Krieg tells the story of a computer board in one of the engines failing, but Capt. Collins quickly jumps in to note that she had the parts on hand so downtime was only about 12 hours.
Also, the owners traveled with their dogs, which made customs an adventure in itself.
“We imported the dogs into French Polynesia and got them French passports,” Krieg said. To avoid an unpleasant quarantine ashore, a veterinarian was hired to live on board for 14 days so the two miniature poodles could be quarantined on the yacht.
While cruising with liveaboard owners meant no downtime and very little personal space, the advantages outweighed those problems.
“Everything was family-style – meals, excursions ashore,” Capt. Collins said.
“The owners were very generous with us and included us in all their activities,” Krieg said. “It was a wonderful experience.”
If they had it all to do over again, the couple agreed on one thing: “We’d spend more time in French Polynesia.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton and led a session at the 18th Benetti Yachtmaster in Miami about Nomadess and this adventure. Comments are welcome below.