St. BarthS

Yachts International - - Sternlines -

evokes rem­i­nis­cences of the Mediter­ranean, blend­ing ma­jes­tic French flair with a rugged Caribbean land­scape of soar­ing moun­tains, sun-soaked beaches, lush gar­dens and turquoise bays. There are many ways to ex­pe­ri­ence this mul­ti­fac­eted play­ground, but if you’re look­ing for un­fet­tered wa­ter ac­cess, care­free re­lax­ation, to­tal soli­tude, tony ac­com­mo­da­tions, five-star ser­vice and Miche­lin-qual­ity din­ing, then a lux­ury char­ter yacht is the only way to go.

Fly­ing will get you to par­adise quickly, but there are no di­rect com­mer­cial flights from the United States to St. Barths, so itin­er­ar­ies of­ten be­gin at Princess Ju­liana In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Dutch Sint Maarten. A 15-minute pud­dle-jumper will take you from there to the yacht at St. Barths, but be ad­vised: The run­way in St. Barths is one of the short­est in the world, which makes for a white-knuck­led land­ing that’s one hell of a thrill.

A far less twitchy ten­der ride from the ma­rina at Gus­tavia Har­bor de­liv­ered me to the swim plat­form of the 197-foot (60-me­ter) Abek­ing & Ras­mussen Dream, where Capt. Ben Craig-Cameron and his crew of 14 greeted my party with cu­cum­ber-scented cool­ing tow­els and a well-de­served glass of Cham­pagne.

Dream’s strik­ing metal­lic sil­ver hull color per­fectly com­ple­ments her Zen-like in­te­rior, with a cool fu­sion of pre­cious woods, Euro­pean cus­tom fur­ni­ture and Asian art­work. Ac­cord­ing to the yacht’s owner, the fu­sion is by de­sign. Hav­ing char­tered ex­ten­sively for 15 years prior to pur­chas­ing the 2001-built Abek­ing, he wanted a yacht that he could cruise him­self and that would ap­peal to char­ter­ers. He knew that with seven state­rooms, an of­fice and a yoga/spa room, the yacht, named Ex­cel­lence III at the time, could ac­com­mo­date more ameni­ties than other yachts her size. A year af­ter buy­ing the boat, he com­mis­sioned a re­fit with Ban­nen­berg & Row­ell as the in­te­rior de­sign­ers. with its un­mis­tak­able red-roof build­ings sprin­kled amid the lush green land­scape, Gus­tavia Har­bor is con­sid­ered one of the most ex­clu­sive su­pery­acht ports in the world; Fresh-made nat­u­ral juices are a break­fast tra­di­tion aboard the faint of heart, the st. Barths land­ing strip is among the most chal­leng­ing, and thrilling, on the planet.

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