The Seychelles


CWP’s Claire gets the VIP treatment with 3 days of island hopping in 
the Seychelles aboard RED DRAGON.

Captain Ben Marshall and his crew are in the minority these days; not many are willing to undertake the risky passage down the horn of Africa and the Somali coastline to the Seychelles, but he and his team are well prepared to risk it for what’s waiting at the other end.

Greeted by Ben at Mahé’s “toy town” airport, we stopped at the nearby Banyan Tree Resort for a 90-minute “flight recovery” massage overlooking what is surely the most beautiful beach on earth. Before heading to RED DRAGON we had dinner at Takamaka – a restaurant set next to an old rum distillery where they serve fruit bat ravioli (as well as other more conventional creole fare, thankfully). 

The winding journey to the harbour is idyllic. Mahé is dominated by lush, Jurassic peaks covered with giant ferns, flowering trees and smooth granite rocks. It may look landscaped, but this is all Mother Nature’s creation. The Seychellois do their bit; the roads are flanked by neat, tropical gardens and there’s not a scrap of rubbish in sight. Nature’s presence is so strong: giant fruit bats flap from tree to tree and the hills reverberate with the whooping and cackling of rare birds, even here, close to the island’s tiny capital. How lovely to arrive at a destination which exceeds expectations.

Arriving at dusk into Mahé’s smart new superyacht marina, the eye is drawn straight to the twinkling light atop an awesome 63-metre mast. Below it sits “The Dragon”, and approaching from the pontoon, underwater lighting sets off her sleek, dark, 52-metre hull. This is all most people will ever get to see – around the Seychelles she has acquired superstar status. With her Alloy/Dubois pedigree and having been kept in a state of perfection by her Anglo-Kiwi crew, even to the critical eye of a yachtbroker she is a beauty.

Ben explained that the islands are divided into the “inner” and “outer” islands; some are mountainous and lush, others flat and sandy, and every one of them scattered with beaches. The sand only comes in white in these parts. The cruising distances are ideal; a couple of hours and you’re somewhere new. With so many islands uninhabited, and in the absence of any cruise ships, you’ve got the place pretty much to yourself. On a one or two week charter you could make it to the northernmost landfall of the African Banks, two sandy outcrops – one of the remotest, most beautiful spots on earth.

Ben is a dive instructor and was keen to show us the best drop offs and reefs, and what lives there. Most of the deck crew also dive, so a couple of them joined us. When a large nurse shark came too close they immediately put themselves between it and the anxious guests and with a gentle prod it disappeared into the blue. As a broker, it’s reassuring to know that this crew even look after their guests impeccably and instinctively at 20 metres underwater.

The crew’s enthusiasm for the surroundings is infectious; they’re determined to eek as much as possible out of every day, and don’t waste any time. Whale watching can be disappointing, but when Ben announced “We should see some whales around here…”, a pair of sperm whales followed by a pod of pilot whales appeared as if on cue. It quickly turned into whale-chasing, the DRAGON heeling right over as Ben criss-crossed the ocean, determined to give us a closer look. 

Bird Island is one of the low-lying coralline islands, fringed by a steep stretch of white sand and frothing surf – and the crew still managed a seamless transfer to shore. The island is inhabited by an astonishing array of wild birds and giant tortoises – incumbent “Esmeralda” has lived here since 1771. This is a good place to spend the day if you’re feeling burnt out – reassuringly there’s no WiFi! Robbie, the local bird fanatic (part surf dude, part David Attenborough) showed us around. With no natural predators, tiny fluffy chicks are left by their mothers in ground-level nests and show no fear of humans. There’s no need for binoculars, or traipsing through the jungle; in fact you have to tread carefully to avoid trampling the nests, and keep your head down as rare and weird birds swoop at top speed. At the right time (March-May), visitors can help escort precious hatchling turtles to the sea, and will be told to stab the blue crabs with sticks to increase the turtles’ chances.

Back onboard The Dragon, the fishing line is out and it’s not long before we have a bite. Not a biggie, but enough tuna to feed six guests at lunch. Morgan, The Dragon’s Kiwi chef, turns this humble offering into five different types of sushi, then pops up from the galley and says, “Shall I keep going?!”. With his 3-star Michelin training he seems to effortlessly turn out course after course of exquisite food; each dish a classic with a subtle Morgan twist. At breakfast the stewardess asks “What type of toast would you like?”. I think I counted five different types of freshly baked bread.

The crew were fantastic with the 7 year old boy who came along; piggy backs, hide and seek, rugby on the beach and a gun fight on deck with huge water pistols. Yachtbrokers are often pre-occupied with specification, layout, interior design; on this trip, it was clear that it’s the crew that make it. The combination of this yacht, with this crew, in this destination is unbeatable.

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