20 Aug 2019

Where Are They Now: Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart is a delivery captain and former SAS officer who lives life to the fullest and at the world’s most extreme edges. With over 30,000nm under his belt, Mike specializes in high-risk sailing in extreme and unforgiving environments. However, he finds himself especially drawn to the icy seascapes of the Arctic, whether it’s taking scientists on an award-winning expedition to East Greenland, or participating in The Polar Ice Challenge, which raised awareness for climate change through completing the never-before-achieved circumnavigation of the Arctic in 2016.

Mike talked to us about the importance of risk assessment, cowboys, formula one, and how Reliance gave him an outlet for his need for the extreme.

What are you up to currently? Tell me a little bit about what kind of work you do now.

Professional Captain of long-range expedition vessel specializing in Arctic climbing, extended remote treks and the like. Mainly for experienced clients who want something different and extreme. High-risk sailing, limited chart support, very little logistics support, inclement unforgiving environment and weather ice negotiation, etc. etc. East Greenland Arctic mainly. Also, freelance deliveries, and security professional in high-risk areas.

How did you first meet Nick, or start working for Reliance?

Around 5 years ago, I took on a specialized delivery that needed my skill set. Nick was very supportive and professional. He has vast experience and guided and supported me to the successful completion of the task.

How long did you work for Reliance, and what work did you get up to?

Deliveries of all types – mainly the more difficult or challenging ones, including repossession of occupied yachts and recovery. Anything a bit different and challenging. Still on the books and want to remain that way. Probably never stop working for Reliance they are probably the best.

Do you have any highlights?

That first job! Bank repo of yacht physically opposed by clients and captain. The yacht was successfully returned to the client in another country; it was undamaged and safely alongside in the time frame we set – a challenging job.

Captain Mike in East Greenland

Why do you think you are drawn to these ‘challenging’, high-risk opportunities, is it one of the reasons you got into sailing in the first place?

Challenging, well… I was an officer in the SAS, in a prior existence. After a lifetime in that area, I now look for difficult, hard, horrible jobs that no one else will take because it reminds me of my service; you get used to doing that hard stuff – achieving the mission and getting the job done – it’s kind of ingrained, anything else is a bit boring, to be honest. It’s kind of like being a formula 1 race driver then having to drive the number 45 bus… just doesn’t cut the mustard. Lots of our guys find life after their service difficult  and the coping mechanisms can be destructive, I just stay busy and hard at it.

In June 2016 you were the skipper on the 4th leg of The Polar Ice Challenge, aiming to raise awareness about climate change by circumnavigating the Arctic for the first time in history, what was it like to work on such a unique project?

The Polar Ocean Challenge was right up my street – a very late crossing of the Atlantic, enormous seas, 9 meters at one stage, underage kid on board and inexperienced crew – the exhibition leader, Sir David, was a good support at home, and we had fun and did the job – everyone home safe. That’s the kind of job I like, no one else would take it on, but I’m used to assessing the risk and putting in place proper safeguards and doing the job. I’m willing to take on the risks because I have the confidence to do the task, and I’m willing to take responsibility…. these days it’s a rare thing, I think. I’m definitely not a cowboy, most of the risk mitigation is backed up by detailed planning and preparation. And some luck, but you make your own luck.

Did you ever feel a touch of irony about the Challenge? It was an incredible feat to have achieved, circumnavigating the Arctic, but in turn, achieving it ultimately meant that climate change was real and incredibly serious. What were your thoughts at the time?

Yes, the arctic is melting which meant much more ice was actually in the water, ice that was broken off bergs etc. and floating – very dangerous and unstable – so it was a bit dodgy. For sure there is a big melt on!

We are going back there in 2020, and we have just bought a new boat. I’ll fly the Reliance flag this year for you. We will be doing another bigger, better polar ocean challenge to East Greenland.

Watching polar bears from a safe distance

Thank you, we would be honoured! What skills have you brought forward into the current work that you developed while working for Reliance?

Professionalism, understanding the importance of procedures, and SOP [Standards of Procedure], looking after the client, some difficult clients, looking after the vessel especially new vessels, which need a particular skill set. Dealing with unruly or less than competent crew; relying on Nick to deal with client issues when at sea – very helpful and responsive – Nick was always there for you if needed.

How did working for Reliance help you get to where you are now?

Developing client base, contacts, and mentoring from both Nick and other skippers. The dynamic and communications between the office and crew work well, Nick has great experience and people skills. Always there for advice or will direct you to sound advice from other staff captains. Nick takes the time to look after his crew and captains, very good.

What influence did Reliance have on your career?

Highly Positive. Provided Contacts and credibility. I felt supported by Reliance, no matter how challenging the role given to me, they were there even when things did not go to plan – which sometimes happens. Very supportive and professional. Back office functions well and no issues with administration. Professional is the word that comes to mind. Good leadership. Good bloke.

 

For more of the Where Are They Now series, check out interviews with Dùghall Maclachlainn and Conor Fogerty

19 Aug 2019

Owner Assisted Passages

Among the many services Reliance offers, owner assisted passages are perhaps the most popular. Clients can take part in the delivery of their yacht, alongside a professional Captain and crew.

An owner assisted passage could be the perfect answer if you are enthusiastic to start sailing, but not quite ready to complete a passage alone. If you feel qualified and confident however, it is also the ideal way to get to know a new boat or visit a new cruising area.

If you are a newbie boat owner who needs help relocating your vessel to another destination, Reliance Yacht Management can help you

An owner assisted passage can be a fantastic opportunity and experience: the perfect way to learn more about a new purchase and benefit from the skill and experiences of a professional yachtsman. As passionate sailors, we are always keen to help our clients get the best from their yachts and maximize their enjoyment. We can help you get the experience and confidence to carry on without us.

Fountaine Pajot 60 delivery, the captain (far left) and owner (far right), along with his two son’s

There are many reasons why an owner assisted passage can help you. Whether you have upgraded to a larger yacht or from a monohull to a catamaran, having an experienced captain on board can be invaluable. For your first overnight passage or maybe you want to sail across the Atlantic, a captain with thousands of miles of experience can give you that essential peace of mind.

 If you are studying towards sailing qualifications, our captains can sign off your passage, adding to your logbook.

 

Recently assisted passages include

Leopard 46 Puerto Rico to Jacksonville

Saba 50 – Guadeloupe to Florida

Lagoon 450 France to the Caribbean

Prestige 500 Italy to Greece

Balance 526 Crete to Cannes

Fountaine Pajot 60 – La Rochelle to New York

 

Contact us about owner assisted passages. Tell us about what you want to achieve. If your schedule is limited, and you are unable to complete a whole delivery, then consider joining for part of the passage. We are flexible and committed to helping clients enjoy their boats.

14 Aug 2019

Captain Justin delivers yacht and clients to perfection

At Reliance we make it our central goal to give our clients the smoothest and most efficient delivery service possible; we take care of all logistical concerns so our clients don’t have to, tailoring our service to meet each individual clients’ needs.

Clients, left; captain right.

Last week Cpt. Justin did just that. While on delivery from Puerto Rico to Jacksonville, Fl, Justin and his crew were accompanied the yacht’s owners. Justin not only delivered the yacht with the greatest care and professionalism, but really showcased how important the client experience is to a Reliance delivery.

While the clients were aboard, Cpt. Justin took the time to make sure that they got the most out of their experience. They were not just simply passengers on Cpt. Justin’s logistical delivery, but active participants in discovering all the yacht had to offer under the guidance and helping hand of a professional captain. As the owners explained, Justin ‘is very knowledgeable of yachts and is an expert ship handler. He imparted much good, practical help and advice for our yacht and was overall a pleasure to sail with.’

The sun setting on the way to Fort Lauderdale, Fl.

Cpt. Justin provided a unique opportunity for our clients to gain tailored knowledge and experience of their new yacht from a professional who had sailed it right alongside them. By sailing with a professional, our clients have time to find their sea legs and learn about their new purchase while still finding joy in the experience.

The client was keen to emphasize how ‘safety conscious’ Cpt. Justin was, picking the best routes and providing a calming presence. He was especially ‘patient’ with one of the owners, ‘who was on her first multi-day passage.’

Our clients were provided with a professional but personalized experience, instantly set at ease by Justin and his crew who were not only knowledgeable and professional, but pleasant and ‘a good fisherman’, on Fabio’s part.

Captain, back; mate front; clients, right.

 

The client’s final remarks on Cpt. Justin’s conduct speak for themselves:

Cpt. Justin was a true professional in every sense of the word. His knowledge, expertise and skill were above reproach; coupled with his attitude and demeanor, he is a credit to your company. The mate Fabio was the perfect complement to Justin. I strongly recommend you endeavor to keep both in your employ, focused on delivery with owners on board.

Cpt. Justin went further than simply delivering the boat, but by accompanying the clients onboard their first journey, he tailored his own knowledge, expertise and skill around our client’s specific yacht, and their own personal needs. He was able to test the yacht, check its safety features, its engine, make sure if it was running at its optimum – an incomparable service.

If you would like to find out more about owner assisted passages contact us, all our details are on the website.

25 Jul 2019

Climate Conscious Yacht Delivery: The Ultimate Guide

As sailors, we see first-hand the effects of climate change. From the increasing plastic and debris in our oceans, to the decline in outstanding natural habitats. While we have been employing best practice when it comes to conservation for many years, including fines for fuel spillage and the conservation laws surrounding areas such as the Galapagos. There is still so much that we can do to protect our oceans, as we see them slowly die before our eyes. This post is a handy guide for best practice while completing sailing deliveries.

REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE REFUSE

Yacht deliveries are all about trying to be as economical as possible; trying to use the least amount of fuel and create the minimum amount of waste. This handy guide just reinforces the practices most of our captains do without even thinking, while also providing some extra little tips to be more climate conscious as well as money conscious.

PROVISIONING

  • The ultimate philosophy is to be mindful of how much you are bringing onto the ship, minimize the amount of packaging that you bring, minimize the amount you will have to throw away at the other end of the delivery.
  • Buy in bulk. Less packaging and more economical, especially on transatlantic or other long trips.
  • Shop locally! Support local entrepreneurs and go to the local market, a generally much more enjoyable experience than the supermarket.
    Butternut Squash Stew (Fiona Sims)
  • Eat simply and well; if you’re buying fresh food buy what’s in season and is grown within the region. The Caribbean seems to be an especially sore spot for our delivery captains as everything is imported. Perhaps instead try make some simple local recipes; plantain travels well, so does citrus fruits. Buying local spice mixes can transform any piece of meat or rice dish.
  • At the same time, bear in mind how long the delivery is. Don’t stock up on loads of beautiful fresh produce if it will only be left to spoil in the galley. Tins are durable in all weather conditions and don’t take up room in the fridge.
  • Try not to buy overly packaged food – such as ready meals, sweets or biscuits – as it just takes up space. Bring your own reusable bags and Tupperware if you can. If not, reuse plastic bags to protect the boat’s interior while underway.
  • Buy less meat and dairy products! This is the single biggest way that you can personally reduce your own environmental impact. It is also one less thing to worry about going off in the fridge while under sail.
  • If you do need that extra boost of protein, and you are offshore, try fish for your dinner! One or two fish caught by a captain does not have nearly the same environmental impact as buying it from the store. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t make too much of a habit of it.
  • Here are some links to some sailing-friendly recipes:

 

WASTE

  • Don’t throw anything overboard that is not organic; and not until 12 miles out of the coast.
  • Dispose of food and organic matter before reaching land; food can bring unwanted bacteria and insects to a new destination, disrupting the ecosystem, especially in such diverse but fragile environments like the Caribbean.
  • The ocean is not a dumping ground, and an out of sight out of mind policy is a luxury we can no longer afford. Things might sink and go deep but that does not erase the damage they can cause. Glass, cans, cardboard, paper, and especially plastic cannot go overboard. Do not throw anything overboard that will not decompose quickly. Up until recently it has been recommended to throw such materials as tin and glass overboard as they are made from natural materials.
  • Prevent loose items going overboard. Keep everything tied down while under sail.
  • Cigarette ends can last up to 5 years and can cause birds to starve if swallowed. Provide butt boxes for stub ends.
  • Only empty the heads offshore if it necessary, about 3 miles offshore in the open sea where waste will be quickly diluted and dispersed by wave action and currents. Consider the environmental sensitivity of the area before emptying tanks, in Europe it is illegal for boats to not have a holding tank but in the Americas and Caribbean, be mindful when using the head. Empty holding tanks at pump stations whenever possible.
  • Use starch-based rubbish bags
    Nifty captain recycling plastic and plastic bags to protect the boat
  • Recycle recycle recycle – this not only means keeping your recyclable items separate from other waste, but it also means reusing materials yourself. For instance, reusing plastic and cardboard to protect the boat’s interior, leaving it spotless for the client.
  • Try and pick a marina with recycling and waste facilities to moor on at the end of the delivery. In the Caribbean especially, more waste is produced than can be processed. It is worth making a brief stop, if you are in the Caribbean, on one of the islands that does have safe rubbish disposal facilities, before carrying on to your final destination.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic and single use items that you buy beyond plastic bags: cloth napkins instead of paper; wooden pegs instead of plastic ones.
  • If there isn’t a water filter on board, buy the 20L bottles to reduce the amount of plastic that you consume. Water bottles are one of the biggest ocean polluters and is perhaps the biggest focus of change for individuals currently. Here is a great post offering cheap and travel-friendly water filter solutions.
  • Create a waste system down in the galley with 3 buckets/containers:
    • Organic waste, can be thrown overboard
    • Recyclables (paper, cardboard, some plastic, glass, metal, etc.)
    • Waste bucket – a last resort that hopefully shouldn’t get too full!
  • Rinse waste with saltwater to avoid smells and the introduction of invasive species when disposing of in a new destination. Especially meat, cheese and dairy packaging should be rinsed well.
  • Once full get it out of the galley and into a storage container. It helps to separate plastic, tins, cardboard, and glass right away into different bags. So far cans and bottles are preferred crushed (Greening the Caribbean).

 

CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE

  • Try and reduce the amount of Grey Water that enters the sea from the yachts’ tanks by choosing more environmentally sensitive products, avoiding chlorine and bleach which are toxic to flora and fauna, and phosphates which encourage algal growth. Baking Soda and Vinegar + water remains a good DIY cleaning product.
    Optimarine – a water-based environmentally cleaner (The Green Directory)
  • Check out The Green Directory to find greener boat cleaning products, although it is U.K. centric.
  • Try and use fresh water to clean your boat while on the water as it reduces the amount of chemicals introduced to the sea.
  • Minimize the use of soaps and detergents used in onboard sinks, showers, and washing machines.

 

OIL AND FUEL

Fines are already enforced in many countries when fuel and oil is spilled into the water. Although not as catastrophic as crude oil, lighter fuels are still toxic to fish and other water species. Over time, exposure to fuel oil can affect reproduction, growth and feeding. These toxins can build up in the food chain and eventually find their way back to us. Here are a few tips to help you prevent fuel entering the water:

  • Use a funnel when pouring fuel or oil.
  • Avoid overfilling your tank to reduce the risk of fuel overflowing from vents
  • Allow room for expansion in the tank
  • Maintain fuel lines, connections and seals to help avoid leaks
  • Transfer oil and fuel in proper containers
  • Dispose of waste oil at appropriate facilities
  • Dispose of oily or fuel-soaked materials in hazardous waste containers
  • Avoid using oil and fuel on the pontoons, other than on those dedicated to refueling
  • If possible, on land do not use oil and fuel within ten meters of the shore
  • Do NOT use detergents to split oil if it does end up in the water as this exacerbates the problem. Detergents break down oil into smaller particles, making it harder for fish and aquatic life to avoid encountering. They can strip the oils from gills making breathing difficult. Furthermore, phosphates in detergents can cause algal blooms which in turn lead to a loss of oxygen and death of aquatic life. Consequently, preventing oil from entering the water is key to protecting our oceans.
  • Use nappies to soak up spilled oil in the bilges! The most absorbent tool engineers could ever design! Remember to dispose of properly, however.

 

Best practice in sailing has often focused upon streamlining delivery times and practicality to ensure efficiency. However, we must re-orientate ourselves towards a more environmentally conscious perspective. While tins and glass for a long time, has been recommended to throw overboard in the name of space – a natural material, right? – Bottles and tins have been found in the deepest trenches ocean trenches with the brand names and logos still readable. A healthy ocean proves to be far more urgent than convenience. With conscious provisioning and creative, economic use of materials, you can reduce your negative impact on the earth.

We are working to reduce the environmental impact of our deliveries from all sides.

USEFUL RESOURCES:

25 Jul 2019

Captain Hoiem: Stella Superstar!

Following on from Captain Kenneth Hoiem’s safe delivery of a Saba 50 from Guadeloupe to Ft. Lauderdale, the client could not sing Hoiem’s praises enough. He said,

Kenneth Hoiem is a superstar!! Can’t thank you enough!!

The client was aboard with their wife during the delivery and was able to see first hand Captian Hoiem’s professionalism and skill. Hoiem helped the couple feel confident and excited about their new yacht; he really showcased what a gift it is to be able to sail in the Caribbean Sea.

While the client has already commented upon Hoiem’s ‘stellar’ delivery, he went out of his way to make sure we knew for certain that Kenneth Hoiem is a great captain.

Kenneth has just completed another delivery from Guadeloupe to Houston, Texas, and is now travelling home for some much needed rest.

Well done Captain Hoiem!

24 Jul 2019

A new California adventure!

Last week one of our captains safely secured an Astrea 42 on a ship headed to the beautiful coast of California. They sailed the new yacht from Fountaine Pajot’s dock in La Rochelle to Antwerp in what would be the first leg of its journey to San Diego.

This is a regular route now for Reliance Yacht Management with many more planned shipments to the US West Coast.

 

22 Jul 2019

Climate Conscious Changes to Shipping

Earlier this year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) took action on the environmental impact of international shipping; they agreed to implement tougher rules on sulphur emissions in what has been called ‘the biggest shake-up for the oil and shipping industries for decades.’ (Reuters)

Currently ships, on average, use fuel with a 3.5% sulphur content. From January 2020, the IMO will be enforcing a flat out ban on ships using fuel with a sulphur content above 0.5%. There is the option for ships to continue to use high-sulphur fuel, but only if they are fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices, scrubbers. Cleaner sources of fuel, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), will also be offered to ship owners as another option.

IMO’s aims are to improve human health by reducing air pollution, and has cited their own study that estimates over 570,000 premature deaths will be prevented from 2020-2025 through the introduction of these tighter regulations.

If ships fail to comply with the new global regulations fines will be enforced and ships could even be detained. This could affect vital requirements such as insurance cover.

This will inevitably affect those seeking yacht deliveries through shipping; prices will increase through the impact of adapting ships’ fuel systems , as well as secondary costs such as insurance. We will be keeping our customers updated as things unfold.

 

 

01 Jul 2019

Where Are They Now: Conor Fogerty

Conor Fogerty was voted Irish Sailor of the Year in 2017 for his outstanding performance in the transatlantic single-handed OSTAR race, surviving a mid-ocean storm, in his Jeanneau 3600 Bam!, and far outstripping the rest of the fleet to place second overall and first in the Gipsy Moth class. Since then Fogerty has been speeding onto bigger and better things: he has launched a campaign for the 2020 Vendee Globe race, a single-handed non-stop global race in which he will sail Ireland’s first foiling keelboat, Raw, and will then be aiming for the 2024 Summer Olympics. 

‘Here’s a more recent pic of me, with more laughter lines’

Q. What are you up to currently? Tell me a little bit about what kind of work you do now.

A. My current project is “Raw” a Foiling Figaro 3, This year I’m racing the RORC circuit, including a Transatlantic and the Caribbean 600. Next year I will be doing the Solitair de Figaro single handed circuit, leading up to the possibility of the Olympics in 2024 in the double handed mixed keel boat.

Q. How did you first meet Nick, or start working for Reliance?

A. I first met Nick in 1995, almost 25 years ago! A lot of water has passed under the keel since then, for both of us. I signed up as crew to do a delivery, a Mooring 505, from St.Gills to Tortola, with Tobais Arnold as skipper. It was a wonderful experience, and gave me a thirst for more.

Q. How long did you work for Reliance, and what work did you get up to? Do you have any highlights?

A. My first skipper’s Job with Reliance was a Med Job for Sunsail in 1996, I then went on to do numerous Transatlantic’s, Med and Indian Ocean jobs, accumulating over 200,000nm. Some of the more memorable trips where: The longest Delivery ever! Sailing from Australia to the BVI, instead of heading East in to headwinds, it was decided to head West, an extra 4knm ontop! So Sailing half the world plus the extra 4k must be some sort of record… Or Canalling through France, passing some 150 locks and the stunning aqueduct in Lyon, whilst on passage from Greece to the UK.

Q. What skills did you require and/or develop while working at Reliance?

A. I think the most important skills I learnt from my time with Reliance, was people management, which came into play when I was selected as Skipper for the Clipper Round the world race in 2005/06, managing a crew of 18 racing around the world takes skill and experience, and my many miles as skipper with novice crew when working with Reliance was a definite advantage. I also believe that high standard of boat preparation (as with every delivery) has played a major role in my career. Having the knowledge and experience of what to expect, helped in winning the Single handed Transatlantic OSTAR in 2017.

Q. How did working at Reliance help you get to where you are now?

A. Through doing back to back deliveries to the BVI, I have met some characters, one was so impressed with my deliveries and stories, that plans where made under the Caribbean sun to buy him an Oster 70, which I ended up sailing around the world for three years with my wife back in 2000-03.

Q. What influence did Reliance have on your career?

A. I am now a professional offshore racer, without gaining valuable miles (100’s of thousands) with Reliance, I’m sure the path would have been different. And in the back of mind, I’m pretty sure my days with Reliance aren’t done!

Conor’s website, focussing upon his RAW project: http://conorfogertyracing.com/
For more in this series check out: Where Are They Now: Dùghall Maclachlainn

 

27 Jun 2019

‘Stellar’ delivery from Captain Kenneth Hoiem

Last week Captain Kenneth Hoiem completed a delivery of a Saba 50 from Guadeloupe to Fort Lauderdale. The boat’s owners were aboard, and from start to finish Kenneth greatly impressed them with his level of care and professionalism. They were above and beyond happy with the service he provided.

Captain Hoiem is absolutely stellar in every respect. Astounding professionalism. He inspires confidence.

Captain Hoiem aboard the Saba 50 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

 

Delivering a boat by sail rather than freight stringently tests it, and by a seasoned professional in its natural habitat. Our captains ensure to deliver boats in better conditions than that under which they received them. They take every opportunity to clean, recondition and repair the boat along the way so that by the time it glides lovingly into the owners’ arms there is nothing left to do but enjoy!

The owners of this Saba 50 saw that process from start to finish and enjoyed every moment of Captain Hoiem’s ‘stellar’ delivery, inspiring their confidence and trust from the beginning.

Captain Hoiem and the owner enjoying the evening sun aboard.