Yacht of the Week: On board 60m Samurai with Captain Gareth Harris

There’s no better way to explore a destination than with a local at the helm. Bequia-born Captain Gareth Harris of 60.3 metre Samurai shares his insider tips for exploring the Caribbean on board…

“A boaters paradise” is how Samurai’s Captain Gareth Harris describes the Grenadines’ island chain. And he should know better than most, being born and raised on the largest island, Bequia.

Bequia is the first stop south of St Vincent. Much like its neighbouring atolls, the island offers pristine bays, colourful coral reefs for incredible dive experiences and awe-inspiring volcanic scenery to explore on shore. Barefoot beach bars and lively local markets are mixed in with luxurious castaway resorts; some are even run by yacht owners themselves like the Bequia Beach Hotel. The unspoilt cruising grounds appeal to high-profile visitors, from royal family members to Hollywood celebrities who don’t want to get gridlocked between other superyachts in St Barths or The Bahamas.
“The Grenadines are a gem,” says Captain Harris. “Still undeveloped, they are great for nature seekers and outdoor lovers.” He cites “the constant northeast trade winds,” “beautiful beaches and blue waters, without the hustle of the major resorts,” as key reasons for adding this yachting hotspot to a charter bucket list.

Samurai, the yacht which Harris currently captains, is certainly well-equipped for Caribbean cruises. Launched as the Alia Yachts flagship in 2016 to a design by Omega Architects, her sprawling outdoor spaces are perfect for soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the views.

A 7.7 square metre sundeck complete with a hot tub offers the ideal spot to unwind at anchor while the Portuguese bridge creates the optimum environment for tropical sundowner drinks while the yacht is underway on an island-hopping adventure.

When it’s time to retreat indoors, her contemporary interiors by RWD offer six cabins for up to 12 guests as well as accommodations for Captain Harris and his 14 crew members. The main deck master, finished with Asian-inspired motifs in a reference to Samurai’s name, spans 87.1 square metres and offers panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling windows.

The impressive beach club with its fold-down balcony is Captain Harris’ favourite area on board. Close to the waterline, this lounge space offers access to a sauna and a fully-equipped gym with glass panels that can be closed off completely for full-air conditioning. Captain Harris recommends finishing off the day at “the beach club with the sunset view, with a cocktail in your hand and music in the background.”

Aside from her luxury amenities, what makes Samurai perfect for cruising the Caribbean is the breadth of local knowledge offered by the captain at her helm. Captain Harris stepped aboard at the end of 2021 when Samurai was purchased by her new owner, but his experience at sea stretches back just over 10 years. Samurai is the most recent in an extensive line-up of superyachts captained by Harris, from 58 metre Carpe Diem to 80 metre Chopi Chopi. The captain has been at the helm on cruises in the Mediterranean, Middle East and US, but is now back home where he intends to treat charter guests to little-known treasures and local flavour.

A hidden gem that might feature on one of Samurai’s Grenadines itineraries is a visit to the black sand beach of Mt Wynne on St Vincent’s Leeward Coast. “It has a beautiful jungle backdrop and is never busy during the weekdays,” reveals Captain Harris. Another of his favourite local surprises for charter guests is a beach barbecue on Mustique’s Macaroni beach, which he says “most other yachts won’t be able to pull off.”

Other activities that might be on offer for Samurai charter guests could include “barbeques with island chefs, bonfire nights or beach games like volleyball, cornhole, soccer and even cricket.”

A keen fisherman, Captain Harris also knows all the best spots for the day’s catch around the islands. His favourite fishing grounds, especially for spear-fishing, are around Baliceaux, where he says the waters are teeming with Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel and Snappers. If the chef is not serving up what guests’ have caught for dinner, Captain Harris suggests trying the national dishes of Jack Fish and breadfruit or his personal comfort food of pelau, made with chicken, rice and caramelized sugar.

Whether you’re thinking of booking a Caribbean charter for the spring break or already looking ahead to next winter, Harris has hinted a number of prime times to visit on board Samurai. “In late January there is the Blues festival in Bequia and Mustique – it’s an epic week. The Easter regattas are a great time as well with numerous sailboats visiting from all over the world. And New Year’s is a fun time with lots of fireworks.”

Though Samurai is planning to head to the Mediterranean this summer, there’s still time to get on board this Caribbean season. Captain Harris will be cruising her around his home islands until the end of May to stretch out the winter and make sure that Samurai and her guests have those quiet cruising grounds all to themselves when the rest of the yachts have already started back on the milk run.

Samurai is managed for charter by FGI Yacht Group with a weekly rate starting from $441,000.

source: boatinternational.com