PURE LUX­URY PURE NA­TURE

THE 254-FOOT ICE-BREAK­ING YACHT LEG­END RE­TURNS TO ANTARC­TICA FOR AN­OTHER SEA­SON OF EX­TRA­OR­DI­NARY EN­COUN­TERS

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Leg­end’s owner started decades ago in the char­ter busi­ness with a 124-foot mo­to­ry­acht. Then he ren­o­vated the 228-foot Sher­akhan, one of the first char­ter yachts to take more than 12 guests (she sleeps 26). Leg­end ex­pands his large-group con­cept into re­mote des­ti­na­tions.

it was mid­night when Ni­co­las Be­nazeth stepped onto the aft deck as the crew prepped the sub for a dive to about 200 feet. ¶ The 254-foot ex­pe­di­tion yacht Leg­end was an­chored in an Antarc­tica bay that looked like it was “on an­other planet. The light — you have these amaz­ing moun­tains all cov­ered in ice and snow, so ev­ery­thing is smooth with this eerie, moon­light glow,” he says. “The sub has this amaz­ing ar­ray of lights, and you see these alien life forms down on the seabed. And I was think­ing, I’m in a sub­ma­rine at night in Antarc­tica see­ing these jel­ly­fish and worms and things that you see on na­ture pro­grams.” ¶ Even af­ter the sub re­turned to the yacht, Be­nazeth re­mained in awe. ¶ “You think, Did I just do that? Is this real? ” he says. “I came out of that night dive think­ing noth­ing could ever top this, and the next day, I was hang­ing out with a whole pod of killer whales.” ¶ Jac­qui Lock­hart was with Be­nazeth as the or­cas en­cir­cled Leg­end’s ten­der. ¶ “I was on my knees on the bot­tom of the ten­der with my el­bows on the tube, on the side, and I took this pic­ture, and this whale was com­ing straight at me,” she says. “And then it went un­der the ten­der. It was crazy. That same bull whale kept go­ing along­side and look­ing me in the eye — it was look­ing right at me.” ¶ Liz Howard was there too, and equally speech­less. ¶ “I have spent, I don’t know how much time with whales in Alaska,” she says. “I was crew up there for three years. Noth­ing was like this. They would come right up to us — their eyes and face would be less than a foot from the ten­der — and then they’d go un­der the ten­der, and we could feel them there.” ¶ These peo­ple may sound like gush­ing school­child­ren af­ter a first trip be­yond their home­town borders, but they’re ac­tu­ally three of the most ex­pe­ri­enced char­ter brokers in the world. Be­nazeth, who is di­rec­tor of char­ter at Char­terWorld, has been in Aus­tralia’s Kim­ber­ley coast, In­done­sia’s Raja Am­pat Is­lands and the South Pa­cific is­lands. Lock­hart, a bro­ker with Cam­per & Ni­chol­sons In­ter­na­tional, knows top-end yachts so well that she was tapped to run the MYBA As­so­ci­a­tion’s boat-show com­mit­tee. Howard, a bro­ker with Fraser, has cruised ev­ery­where from Fiji and Dubai to the Gala­pa­gos and

PEO­PLE WHO HAVE CRUISED FROM ALASKA TO THE GALA­PA­GOS SAY THIS IS THE CHAR­TER OF A LIFE­TIME.

Myan­mar. ¶ They are peo­ple who have seen it all, as far as su­pery­achts and ex­otic des­ti­na­tions go — and to a per­son, they’ve never seen any­thing like what Leg­end is now of­fer­ing in Antarc­tica. ¶ “The only word that I can use to de­scribe what the ex­pe­ri­ence was like is oth­er­worldly,” Howard says. “Amaz­ingly unique doesn’t be­gin to de­scribe the ex­pe­ri­ence.” ¶ Leg­end is the only Class 1 ice-break­ing char­ter yacht, con­verted dur­ing a two-year project at Icon for use in ex­treme re­gions. Where yachts in the Caribbean might pile pad­dle­boards, Leg­end has gear for heli-ski­ing down Green­land’s peaks. Where yachts in the Mediter­ranean might have ma­hogany sail­ing dinghies, Leg­end has a com­mer­cially rated he­li­pad. ¶ “In­side Leg­end, you would not know that it’s an ex­pe­di­tion ves­sel,” Howard says. “But what he’s done is that in­stead of fill­ing it with Wave-Run­ners and Se­abobs, there’s a sub­ma­rine and iceready ten­ders.” ¶ Ice-ready is a key con­cept in Antarc­tica, where ves­sels of­ten turn back be­cause of the frozen wa­ters. ¶ “Leg­end is set up where, even the ten­ders, they can get through the ice fields,” Howard says. “It was like sit­ting in a huge gin and tonic with crushed ice.” ¶ The weekly base rate for an Antarc­tica char­ter is about $570,000, and all-in with the sub, he­li­copter and other ex­penses, Howard says, the to­tal is about $1 million. ¶ It’s worth it, she and the oth­ers say, for any­one who thinks he’s seen it all. ¶ “It of­fers some­thing that there’s no other way in the world to do,” Howard says. “It’s pure lux­ury in pure na­ture.”

IT CHANGED MY LIFE. IT’S MADE ME SO MUCH MORE AWARE OF THE WORLD AND THE PLANET AND HOW IM­POR­TANT IT ALL IS.

A guest knelt in a ten­der while this whale came right at her and dove un­der it.

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