As a real estate entrepreneur, dry land is Jan Arend de Vos van Steenwijk’s bread, butter and business. Today, he’s the proud owner of the 28-metre Co.Na.Vi and De Vries Lentsch yacht, Ammiraglio. However, it was not until recently that the Dutchman first developed a wistfulness for the water.
At first, de Vos van Steenwijk had little idea how to choose a yacht, what was involved in managing a new boat or how he would go on to use her. Here, he tells us how he first fell in love with yachting, why Ammiraglio is the ideal yacht, and what would-be owners can learn first-hand from his experiences.
1. How to choose a yacht
It was two years ago, while renting a friend’s 24-metre De Vries Lentsch motor yacht for a family holiday, that de Vos van Steenwijk first got a taste for what it might be like to trade land in for the sea. The experience brought back the feeling of freedom he’d had as a child on smaller yachts during family sailing holidays, “It doesn’t matter if you’re on a boat of 12, 30 or 40 metres, as soon as you leave the port, you are out there — you feel free.” And so, the hunt was on.
2. How to manage your boating business
Comparing running his boat to running his business, de Vos van Steenwijk notes, “My work might seem to have little to do with yachting. But from my perspective, it’s a lot like buying a small apartment on the water!” Ammiraglio’s new owner set to work on fixing up the 139 GT motor yacht. While in need of a little love, the yacht, which was built in 1982, was in remarkably sound condition. “I was drawn to her charm, her design,” he explains.
“We added all new carpets, curtains, ceilings, varnish on the wooden panelling, sheets, cutlery, and we are constantly upgrading the interior. I have the captain on the phone every week, or sometimes more often, either because we’re changing decor, fixing engines, a crew member is unwell, or we need to find a new place to port for the summer. There’s always something.” A bow thruster and an interior colour change were also added to the yacht too. Her new owners have certainly been busy. Photo: Jan Arend de Vos van SteenwijkPhoto: Jan Arend de Vos van Steenwijk
3. How to make yacht ownership fun
For Ammiraglio’s owner however, this ceaseless to-do list is like water off a yacht’s hull. In fact, it is all part of the fun, and fun is something the de Vos van Steenwijk family certainly know how to have. From evenings spent in the bustling bay of St Tropez, to retreating to remote corners of Corsica, Ammiraglio is a Mediterranean-based vessel that espouses adaptability.
While hunkered down in vibrant port cities, the family often invite guests and friends on board. “In St Tropez you see a lot of people. We have some friends there and it’s nice to have families come on board for some fun, jumping from the boat with the children.” But after a few days in a hectic harbour, Ammiraglio heads for more tranquil terrain. “When we visited Corsica, there were only one or two ships and many of the beaches cannot be reached by car, it’s very remote. The beauty is in being able to have these two extremes.” Photo: Jan Arend de Vos van Steenwijk
4. How to make yachting a family venture
Year-round, Ammiraglio is based with her all-Filipino crew in Cannes, the south of France. The family visit in the summer holidays and when they do: “it’s like our own little paradise.” Stand-out experiences include visits to small villages, new cities and stays on unknown shores along the way. “I love seeing the beautiful nature spots we end up in when at anchor, and pulling into ports like Bonifacio, sat between big rocks that look like something from the pages of a book.” Photo: Jan Arend de Vos van SteenwijkFavourite spots on board include sitting at the round table on the aft deck to watch the view, or lounging on a sun bed on the yacht’s top deck. It is out on deck in the early morning that de Vos van Steenwijk enjoys his favourite part of the day. “I walk out from my bedroom, take my cappuccino, read my newspaper and look out at the blue sky and beautiful water.” When the children arise, the family have breakfast together and then a day of activities begins. “We have paddle boards, windsurfers, waterskis, a wakeboard, a Seabob and snorkelling gear on board,” he says. “Sometimes we go on land and have a day tour, walk in the mountains, or go horseback riding. My wife is great at looking online for local activities.”
5. How to use your yacht for business
While fun for the family, the boat has been good for business too. “I might fly in with some friends for a long weekend or with business colleagues on a different weekend. It’s great for inviting over business associates,” he tells us. Working on board is easy, “with internet, a computer and a telephone you can really work from anywhere.”
6. How to know if you should buy a yacht
When asked what advice he’d give to others considering investing in a boat of this size, de Vos van Steenwijk laughs, “I’d say a yacht is not an investment!” But adds, “if you have the budget, just do it. Buy the things you love. When it comes to holidaying, it’s the best thing I’ve done for my family, and for myself.”