What better way to explore the New England heart of American yachting history than aboard a luxury charter yacht?
By Ben Ellison — October 2002
Our original goal was to see if a megayacht could be used to visit off-the-beaten-path cruising spots, and we had some success. But the real theme that emerged during four days aboard Indulgence was how gloriously yachting history manifests itself in the Newport, Rhode Island, area these days and what a perfect vehicle a charter vessel like this 102-foot Broward is for taking it all in.
The subject came up right away, as we got underway with a slow turn around Newport's inner harbor. The docks and water were teeming with yachts of all flavors and generations. Well-known Twelve Meters representing six decades of America's Cup competitions were boarding "dude" racers for daysailing, while classic-launch replicas ferried visiting cruisers to their moorings. Across the pier from Walkabout, a thoroughly modern 141-foot Christensen familiar from PMY's "America's 200 Largest Yachts" list, lay the 133-foot Coronet, built in 1885 and "the most original Victorian grand yacht in existence," according to the burgeoning International Yacht Restoration School, which has made her its master project. Gilded Age mansions, lawns undulating down to the water, and finally Fort Adams, massive War of 1812 battlements now housing the Museum of Yachting, completed the splendid scene.
I was psyched. Not only was I finding the flying bridge of Indulgence a superb high, open (and partially sun-protected) observation platform, I was also quickly discovering that my shipmates appreciated boats as eclectically and enthusiastically as I do. Capt. Steve Donohue and the three charter brokers riding along to familiarize themselves with Indulgence all had lots of cruising boat--by golly, even sailboat--miles under their deck shoes.
Let me digress a moment with my theory about the supposed great divide between powerboaters and sailors: it's vastly overstated. Sure, there are some power people who consider "blowboaters" a strange lot who get in their way too much, and there are some snooty "string pullers" who really do call us "stink potters," but I believe that both are tiny minorities that should be ignored entirely. Unfortunately, too many of both persuasions cruise along in a state of mild paranoia, missing the great oneness of yachting: looking and feeling good on the water. I bring this up because if you're going to charter a large power yacht in New England, you're going to see sailboats everywhere, so you might as well appreciate them and assume that they're appreciating you.
My mates and I were enjoying the sloops, yawls, ketches, schooners, catamarans, and windsurfers that winged in all directions as we steamed north toward the port village of Bristol. Narragansett Bay is not only steeped in yachting history, it's alive with vigorous yachtsmen. Not that any of us were in the mood to trade berths; instead, we were just starting to realize what a first-class operation we'd booked passage on.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.