AROUND THE WORLD (Again) By Cpt. Martyn Walker
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"Look famous, be legendary, travel light, act easy, appear complex, seem a dream, prove real!"
These words kept the crew of Montigne by Martyn’s side through thick and thin, through storms and sunshine!
It was a cold rainy day in mid May 1999 that I took command of the Montigne at Lake Union in Seattle. Embarking on board the 47m Feadship ex Paminuch I never dreamed of the places she was to take me over the next seven years. The Owner invited all the new crew to his ranch for a barbeque locally and there I met the man that I was to travel over 60 different countries with. My next meeting was in Chittam locks leaving Lake Union for the Puget Sound. With the lockmaster demanding we exit the lock as the gates opened the first maneuver with Montigne with the Owner stood beside me left a lot to be desired as the wall kept sucking us back on to it. The Owner talked about this day for years to come! I now know the secret is to hide from the lockmaster for fifteen minutes until the boiling water subsides.
The plan was to circumnavigate every two years and be available for charter in different regions for the client who wished for world travel like my Boss but did not want the associated costs of ownership. We completed our first circumnavigation in 25 months. This trip took us first to the waters of Alaska with memorable time spent salmon fishing close to Sitka and Nooktka on the outside shores of Alaska and British Colombia. I was at this time graced with my wonderful daughter Chloe her birth happening as we were on anchor in a valley where I had to use the bow thruster to keep satellite signal so that I could speak to my wife. Quite what the crew thought of their Captain shouting ‘Puuuush’ down the phone when the moment came, I will never know!
Following this was a 96 day shake down cruise with guests on board that had me wondering what I had got myself into. With all parties fished out, I could not eat another salmon burger; we sailed south to the warmer waters of California and saw the Hollywood sign in the distance as we transited the US coast south. Fishing and bear watching behind us it was off to Panama for my first transit of the canal and then a cruise from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, Cancun to Belize and Guatemala. In Guatemala I extensively planned a trip by tender up the Rio Dulce River for the Boss who at the last minute invited me along. Seeing the rewards of the crew efforts for a shore trip was interesting, squashed sandwiches and no plates in the lunch we packed, plus my personal embarrassment of getting a driver who spoke no English. After an hour or so up river we drove to the mountains, a drive that brought me closer than I had wished to the Owner having to small talk for eight hours. An easy feat for me, most would think, especially anyone who has spent a night on watch with me can testify.
Next Florida and, after doing some yard work, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and BVI for a top golf course tour. White Witch in Jamaica, I believe, took the award for best we visited.
With a busy charter season shaping up in the Med our next port of call was San Remo for the boat show to entertain brokers with our expectations of Asian adventures ahead. We chartered in the Med and enjoyed the usual delights with our Owner, everything going as planned with the thanks to the awesome All Services agency and Phil from Yachthelp in Palma. We even managed to get a couple of weeks R&R before the ‘Montigne Experience’ began in earnest. The next trip saw us embarking in Cefelonia, Greece and cruising through the Greek Islands, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon and dropping off in Israel. Now we were seeing the true job. The key was to establish a good relationship with a knowledgeable agent to keep this flowing. Makis at A1 Yachting in Greece and Nagib, Felix Maritime for Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Any country with water became possible from now on. We started to develop a system where we would arrive in port to be met by a guide and agent, this enabled the guests to get a tiptop tour, historic facts and the best restaurant available.
From Israel to Thailand, via Suez, Aden, we bunkered there the day before the USS Cole was bombed, with a fuel stop in the Maldives. We cruised Phuket with Owners and charters whilst we also became the third yacht to visit Yangon in Myamar. Any captain that wants to get away from the wind and swells of the Caribbean should talk to their Owners about Asia. Incredible cruising. We signed SEAL Superyachts as agents who I had known for some years before the area became popular. The diving, fishing, beaches, blue seas make this a must visit to me for any boat cruising worldwide. SEAL as with most agents seem to never sleep. We had needs almost 24/7, and they were there. Assistance with the freshest fish and fruit to jungle tours. They even sorted out a freezer breakdown at two in the morning distributing meat around the local town’s available freezers to save our stock.
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