The allure of islands in literature


by Erica Wagner from Boat International

From the buried treasure and pirates in literature to the drama of total isolation when renting a private island, Erica Wagner explores why islands exude such allure

“No man is an island,” John Donne wrote. And yet we are drawn to them all the same. When the great poet and cleric wrote those words in the 17th century he spoke to a culture that had truly compassed the world. “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” his meditation continues, and it is worth recalling that it was only a few decades before that the great seaman Sir Francis Drake had circumnavigated the globe; English men and women, denizens of this “precious stone set in a silver sea” as Shakespeare had it, could perceive their own island nation as one jewel among many.

Yet when it comes to literature, not all islands count as such. You might try to make the claim that any book set in Britain, Australia, or indeed Manhattan counts as “island literature”, but it’s best to acknowledge that would be going a bit far.

No — when we’re talking about island stories we have Robert Louis Stevenson in mind: “the map of an island, with latitude and longitude, soundings, names of hills and bays and inlets, and every particular that would be needed to bring a ship to a safe anchorage upon its shores. It was about nine miles long and five across, shaped like a fat dragon standing up, and had two fine land-locked harbours, and a hill in the centre part marked ‘The Spy-glass’”.

That’s the map which leads, of course, to Treasure Island, Stevenson’s iconic adventure. From wooden-legged pirates with parrots, to yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, Stevenson’s yarn created the pattern for island exploits, and illustrious writers have followed in his footsteps. Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate in the UK, sent Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver’s daughter, Natty, off on their own adventure in his follow-up to Treasure Island, called Silver (Vintage), which also now has a sequel, The New World (Jonathan Cape).

Speaking of footsteps, one can’t ignore Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719; Crusoe has been the model for every castaway since, including Tom Hanks’s marooned character in Cast Away. Filmed in Monuriki, Fiji, the island is now one of the most popular movie locations to visit on a luxury yacht. Defoe’s tale was based, it is said, on the story of Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who, in 1704 – after an argument with his captain – left his ship for the isolation of Más a Tierra (known today as Robinson Crusoe Island), 400 miles off the coast of Chile. In Selkirk’s Island, Diana Souhami returned to Selkirk’s tale, but with a twist: “The hero is the island, not the man marooned there.”

Even if we are not marooned, islands cast us back on our own resources. Not long ago I was in Shetland – the wild setting for Ann Cleeves’ sequence of mysteries which began with Raven Black (Pan) in 2006. When island-hopping, I’ve always got the high north in my heart; I’ll never forget standing by the graves of explorer John Franklin’s men on Beechey Island, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic. Frozen In Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by John Geiger and Owen Beattie is a book to make seafarers glad marine technology has moved on since the 1840s and enabled the remains of Franklin’s ships to be found at the bottom of the sea. 

“Islands are metaphors of the heart, no matter what poet says otherwise,” wrote Jeanette Winterson in answer to Donne; and it’s true. We want to sail away from ourselves to find others with whom we may connect; we build bridges, but still our souls are set in the sea of ourselves, and we are always cast away. 

The World of Winch Design

By Alexandra Groom for Super Yacht World

"I always say the next project is more exciting than the last,” is a thrilling sentence to hear coming from a man who counts Madame Gu, Ace and Dilbar among the yachts in his extensive portfolio. What ever could come next? The mind boggles.

This year Andrew Winch is celebrating the milestone of 30 years of Winch Design, and there is a significant amount to reflect on. Not content, however, with being one of the industry’s elite yacht designers, he is also celebrating 15 years of the Winch Aviation Studio team and ten years since the inception of his Architecture Studio. It’s an impressive tally, and speaks volumes about a man passionately dedicated to design in all its forms. Only one other thing left to celebrate this year: his 60th birthday.

“I grew up on the South Coast in Bosham, Chichester Harbour. My father still lives there, and I learnt to sail with him. Sailing was what initially got me into boat design. I sailed across the Atlantic as a skipper when I was 21, on a 52-footer. When I came back to Europe I decided I didn’t want to be crew, I wanted to design!”

After initially training as a sculptor, Winch moved into 3D design, before joining the renowned studio of Jon Bannenberg.“I spent six years with Jon Bannenberg as an apprentice. I’m still very good friends with his son Dickie, which is lovely, and also one of my former colleagues, Tim Heywood, who I’m working with now on five projects.” Winch isn’t name-dropping, and although a conversation with him about his projects will inevitably involve lots of ‘big names’, it serves not to impress, but to show the quality of his collaborations and the mutual respect he enjoys with his peers.

Winch is also enjoying two specific yachting milestones in 2016, both collaborations: “We’re celebrating delivering Dilbar, the largest private yacht in the world by volume, and also celebrating probably the most successful 64-foot sailing yacht ever, the Jeanneau 64, at the same time!” says Winch.

On the superyacht spectrum, there isn’t really an appropriate metaphor to describe how far these two landmarks are apart from each other. But according to Winch, that’s not important: “The size is not the issue, but the success of the project,” he insists. “The quality, the success and the pleasure that people get from using it, seeing it, and living on it.” So, whilst on a metaphysical level the two projects are the same, an elemental comparison shows the sheer range of Winch’s work: Dilbar weighs 15,917 gross tonnes; the Jeanneau weighs just 30.5 gross tonnes.

Winch ensures his studio give the same amount of attention to detail to every project, which goes some way to explaining his success across the ranges. The Jeanneau came about through a close collaboration with French designer Philippe Briand, and Dilbar was a project with Espen Øino, who drew her exterior lines. Winch and his team put their expertise to work on the interior spaces of Dilbar: “We have been lucky enough to work on some of the most beautiful and noteworthy superyachts and it has been a privilege to work on Dilbar. She was a large and complex project but we had the experience and scale to manage without compromising other projects,” explains Winch. “The yacht team worked very closely with our interiors team so we had a large number of people working together to achieve the best results – Dilbar was a wonderful project for all who were lucky enough to be involved.”

However you package it, Dilbar was a monumental project, and is currently the most sought-after yacht for yacht-spotters and aficionados to get close to. “The main challenge with a project of this size was just the sheer amount of resource needed. We give every project the same attention to detail so it was just about scaling up,” says Winch. “We have obviously learnt a huge amount over the past 30 years and each project teaches us something new. We harnessed all of our combined experience and design talent to ensure this project was run in exactly the same as every other Winch project. The complexities of design has obviously changed over 30 years and client expectations have also developed, but this is a good thing, as we enjoy the challenge and want to push boundaries. The end result is very much worth all of the hard work.”

And it’s not just enormous yachts the Winch design team work on. “We’ve just drawn an A380 for a client – it will be great if it ever happens!” says Winch. Boeing Business Jets and Airbus Corporate Jets are mainly what the Aviation Studio focuses on, and they have four projects on at the moment, one of which is the first Dreamliner-900, the longest 787 yet.

“I’ve got at least a few clients that have multiple Winch products. And that’s great, it’s a great treat!” says Winch. “I love the synergy of our clients living in a Winch house, flying in a Winch plane, and stepping onto their Winch yacht having gone out to it on a Winch tender or helicopter. Each of those experiences should be fun and a pleasure, and they are about a culture of life. We build a life for our clients.” Winch also somehow manages to take on projects accidentally: “I had a client who walked in here and said ‘I know you do yachts but I don’t want a yacht, so don’t talk about yachts, I want a plane.’ And half way through he said ‘I actually really like the yachts, let’s do a yacht as well.’ So we started a yacht project!”

The technicalities needed for interior yacht design is what has enabled Winch to seamlessly navigate the waters of aviation and property projects. “We just finished an apartment in London for a family with two children and 30 staff. We had to design the interior like a yacht, which is why he hired us. He said ‘I can see what you do on the yacht projects: you never see the crew in a Winch yacht.’ They can be completely invisible because of the routes we work. They have their own back-of-house and I’ve been doing that for some time. It’s a very British tradition and it works very well. In this London project the chef has separate kitchens in another apartment, which might seem strange to some, but that happens on a yacht anyway, the galley is on another floor. So it’s absolutely the same designing a yacht as designing a fantastic apartment in Knightsbridge.”

For Winch, building a relationship with the client is just as important as building the project, and he will only take on clients with whom he can build that emotional connection. “Our clients are our patrons. They commission the construction of something unique, whether it’s a yacht or carpets and artwork. It’s thinking about lifestyles: we put ourselves into the equation in every detail. So we ask questions: how big should the shower be? Well, how big is the shower at home? He’ll want the same. Which side of the bed does he sleep on? Because then that’s the side for the bathroom. Little things make a big difference.”

Good design can be so spectacular that even the creators are in awe, “I walked back into Ace last year and I went, ‘Crickey, did we design this?!’ It takes your breath away when you haven’t seen it for a couple of years,” laughs Winch.

But one of the most important qualities is being able to start from the right block. “I think the most important thing is to listen. It’s very difficult to create a great project if you don’t know where the target is.” And sometimes you can hit the target too well. “The sad thing sometimes, is some clients have said, ‘Andrew I’d love to do a new boat, but I love the one I’ve got too much already!’ The owner of Cyclos III kept it 25 years! He said ‘I’m never going to change it because it fits me like a glove.’ I should have done it not so well so he would have bought more projects! But in all seriousness, I’m very proud that our clients keep their yachts for such a long time.”

As well as listening to his clients’ wishes, Winch knows when to include more personal suggestions. “On Sea Owl we carved a four-storey magic tree based on Peter Pan. I grew up in Kensington and going to the gardens to see the sculpture was an inspiration. I told that story to the owners who are grandparents and they loved it. They said: ‘Let’s make a magic wall of everything about America!’” The yacht was an interesting project for the Winch studio. “We were building the first Sea Owl, a 43-metre at Burger Yachts, when the clients said: ‘We’ve already realised it’s not going to be big enough. Andrew, we want you to start designing a new boat. Maximum size is 62 metres, let’s get on with it!’ So we hadn’t even finished the first one when we started the bigger one.” The clients kept both yachts for different types of cruising. “Every weekend in summer they get on a boat. It’s a sense of freedom, and it relaxes the parents and the children and grandchildren. It’s about them loving their spaces.”

An occupational hazard for Winch is designing masterpieces that only a small community will ever be able to appreciate. In comes Portonovi, a new high-end development in Montenegro, with a brand-new marina and Winch-designed yacht club. “This is the first public space project for Winch Design which makes it even more exciting!” says Winch. “The building will be a fantastic showcase for the architecture team, and the free-form design will challenge all of us that are involved with this project and will produce an iconic landmark building of which we can all be very proud. So many of the projects that we work on are confidential so it is a wonderful opportunity for us to show the world what we can do.”

As would be expected for such a milestone year, Winch and his studio want to celebrate. “I love parties I must say!” says Winch. But Jane, Andrew’s wife and business partner, came up with a better idea. “She said we should do something that gives money rather than spends it.” And so, the London to Monaco bike ride was born. Winch and members of his team, along with anyone else who wanted to participate, cycled from the Tower of London to the Palace in Monaco, arriving in time for the yacht show, to raise money for the Blue Marine Foundation. “We wanted to do something for the sea that’s given us 30 years of our industry. We really care about the Blue Marine Foundation and trying to clean up the seas and stop overfishing. We wanted to do something that wasn’t about spending money. We can spend £100,000 very quickly on a piece of furniture for a client if it’s got to be unique. It’s not until you try and raise money for something like sponsorship that you realise how much £1,000 is.” It’s a dichotomy the team are challenging, with the initial aim to raise £500,000 for the charity.

So what does the next 30 years look like for Winch Design? “I want to enjoy every opportunity for creativity, because that’s the inspiring thing that keeps us all wanting to be here and work,” says Winch. “We’re a studio of dream makers, but with a heritage of knowledge. We dream big dreams to create the future of design the way we see it.” And it’s not only yachts he has his design eye on. “I’d love to do more waterside architectural projects and furniture collections. It would be fun to be showing our work a little less exclusively.” The studio has a lot to be proud of, and has brought to life some stunning yachts. Their unique design makes them stand the test of time; a surprisingly slender bow, or a dramatic aft staircase: “Winch Design is about producing dynamic design, whatever the project. We don’t have a house style and view each project with a completely fresh eye.”

Winch employs around 70 people in his offices on the Thames, the same stretch of tidal river he’s been on for 30 years. Those waters could never have imagined in 1986 the yachts that they would inspire in 2016, but that’s the gift of Winch Design.

European Yachts vs. American Yachts: What’s the Difference?

By Kim Kavin for YachtWorld

Craftsmanship, cost, and cutting-edge technology are all parts of the consideration, when it comes to European versus American yachts.

In the superyacht sector (say, yachts 150 feet length overall and larger) there’s a pecking order of shipyards when it comes to pedigree. Plenty of builders in the United States, Europe, and beyond turn out fantastic yachts, though when it comes to super-sized custom yachts, the European yards continue to be considered by many to be the best of the best, all around the world.

Yachts like this 153 Heesen Lady Petra, built in Holland, are nothing short of works of art.

Yachts like this 153 Heesen Lady Petra, built in Holland, are nothing short of works of art.

LurssenBlohm+Voss and Nobiskrug in Germany; Benetti and Perini Navi in Italy; FeadshipAmelsOceanco and Heesen in the Netherlands—these brand names of yachting are akin to Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce in the automotive world.

Why? Partly because of tradition, and partly because of product.

Shipyards like Feadship, whose roots date to 1849, and Benetti, which traces its history to 1873, are considered to be almost national institutions in their home countries. Their craftsmen are sometimes the children of the children of the children of the craftsmen who came before them, with everything from fairing and painting to welding and carpentry deep within their family heritage. That level of craftsmanship results in yachts that, in many ways, simply outclass those built in other parts of the world.

Certainly, there are fine craftsmen in America as well—Derecktor delivered the 281′ Cakewalk in 2010 as the largest yacht built in America since the 1930s,and builders from Christensen to Trinity prove regularly that they can turn out some fantastic yachts. In fact, when it comes to semicustom builds, those American yards are competing at the top of the worldwide game. All three build yachts 150 feet and larger that let owners customize a great deal of the design, without having to commit to the kind of years-long process that a custom build in Europe might require. (Though if you’re willing to spend more time, Christensen and Trinity offer fully custom designs too.)

Beyond the quality and timing of construction, the euro-to-dollar exchange rate has an impact. Right now, it’s affecting the popularity of European yards compared with American ones. For the first time in years, the U.S. dollar is gaining strength against the euro, and that means top-end yachts from pedigree builders in Europe are suddenly within the financial reach of Americans who previously couldn’t afford them. Whereas the French used to come to America looking for good deals on yachts when the euro was strong and the dollar was weak, the Yankees are now heading to Holland and Europe to get while the getting is good. And as the order books at the shipyards fill up, those yards are able to invest in advancements that keep their friendly rivalries going. Each is always trying to outdo the others when it comes to the world’s largest yachts, over 200 feet in LOA, leading to a winning formula for yacht buyers who want to be on the cutting edge of technology and design.

Some of the most recent examples of this envelope-pushing excellence in custom yacht-building from Europe are Feadship’s 273-foot Savannah and Heesen’s 229-foot Galactica Super Nova, both of which wowed the crowds as the stars of the recent Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Savannah is Feadship’s first hybrid-propulsion motoryacht, not to mention a design with an underwater lounge with a big glass window beneath the sea. Galactica Super Nova is the largest Heesen ever built, with a fast-displacement hull that lets her achieve 30 knots (a stunning speed for that size vessel). These yachts dominated the docks in Florida, not only because of their sheer size but also because of the innovations they brought to the superyacht marketplace.

Galactica Super Nova is nothing, if not impressive.

Galactica Super Nova is nothing, if not impressive.

Want to see for yourself? Some European-built stunners are slated to appear at Yachts Miami Beach this month. Look for the 206-foot Benetti 11.11 (for charter through Y.CO) as an example of a newer Italian build, as well as for the 230-foot Lurssen Martha Ann (for charter through IYC), an example of a pedigree German yacht that continues to elegantly stand the test of time.

And while you’re there, also check out the American-built 190-foot Trinity Skyfall (also with IYC), the 164-foot Westport Wabi Sabi (exhibited by Burgess) and the 164-foot Christensen Silver Lining (part of the builder’s high-volume series). They may not be quite as big as the European builds in the nearby slips, but they’re impressive in their own right, with beautifully crafted interiors and features that will leave you picking up your jaw off the dock.

Buying A Yacht For Your Retirement? Here’s What You Need To Know

By Lind Card, from 

When my husband, Al, and I bought our sailboat Carina back in 1993, we knew she was close to perfect for our planned life cruising the Caribbean. At 37 feet long, with a large center cockpit and aft cabin she was big enough for two, and the price was right at around $50,000. We lived aboard her for 16 years, sailed in five countries, and navigated hundreds of nautical miles before moving back on land and selling her in 2012.

Photo courtesy of Hugo Ghiara,

If you’ve decided to buy a boat and live the cruising lifestyle, you have all the same questions we did. Where do you start? What makes a good boat? How much will it cost? Where do you shop?

The first thing you need to do is research. Back when Al and I bought Carina the Internet was in its infancy. We did it the old fashioned way, with print publications. Now things are much easier with a vast amount of information online.

Your initial goal is to learn as much as you can about the boat market as a potential buyer. What kinds of boats are available, who are the manufacturers, what reputation do they have, what’s the price range, where are they docked, who are the main brokers?

Boat sales took a nose dive after the crisis of 2008, and as inventory grew a buyers’ market evolved. Today, many of the bargains are gone and the market has stabilized. But there are still a lot of used boats on the market, so you will find good value at a reasonable price. For instance, I spotted a well-built 42-foot Tartan sailboat, fully equipped for cruising in the Caribbean and at $89,900 it looks like an excellent value. See this website for more information on boats like this.

You’ll find “hot spots” where boats are concentrated, including Florida, Texas, California and Maryland in the U.S. Wherever boat manufacturers are located you will find a higher number of boats on offer. For instance, Catalina and Island Packet yachts are built in Largo, Florida, making it a “hot spot” for both new and used sailboats. Popular cruising grounds are also good places to shop, such as Rio Dulce, Guatemala, or Croatia in Europe.

As you do your homework, create some files (you’ll refer to them later). Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What kind of boating do you want to do? The type of boat you need will depend on how you will use it. Will you do long-distance offshore sailing, deep-sea fishing, coastal or lake day-sailing, or tropical island hopping? Think about this and be realistic. If you plan to live aboard, size matters. A 38- to 42-foot sail or power boat is a manageable size for a couple, providing multiple living spaces and privacy at an affordable price.

2. The type of boating you want to do influences the answer to the next question: Do you want a sailboat or a power boat? Both require knowledge of seamanship and marine maintenance, but reflect distinct approaches to life. If you are the laid-back type and believe that “getting there is half the fun,” a sailboat may be right for you. If you just want to arrive at the next fishing waypoint or marina slip as easily as possible, you may be happier with a power boat.

3. Do you want a new or used boat? This is a big decision—think new car vs. used car. Of course, your budget will dictate a lot. New boats will cost much more, but you can order a custom yacht to get exactly what you want. The used boat market is huge, you will have more room to negotiate price, and most likely find what you want. To give you an idea of the difference in price, a new 2015 model 36-foot Island Packet starts at $357,000, while a comparable 37- or 38-foot model built in the 1980s will sell for around $150,000. That’s a big difference!

4. The next question to answer concerns the basic structure of the boat. Most are built with fiberglass, but steel, wood and even carbon-fiber, are also available. If a sailboat, do you want a monohull or catamaran, and how many masts? If a power boat, do you want a trawler or a fishing boat, and how many engines? A fiberglass hull is the most common because it offers the best combination of cost, strength, maintenance and appearance. Catamarans (boats with 2 hulls) are more stable in the water, but cost more to build, dock and maintain because there’s more boat surface area. Trawlers are made for comfort and roominess, whereas a power boat intended for fishing will have a completely different design.

With all the above in mind, make a list of the features you want in a boat. It will help you narrow down your search once you start talking to sellers and brokers. You may also find it useful to make a “do not want” list, citing the things you want to stay away from.

There are a lot of boats out there so you need a clear idea of what you’re after so you can ask informed questions and focus on only those boats that meet your criteria.

This is a process rather than an event, and you may keep fine-tuning your list as your boat search progresses.

Once you’ve got your lists, files and criteria, there’s nothing else to do but go look at boats. Boat shows are held all over the U.S. and are a great opportunity to see a lot of boats in one place, talk to dealers, brokers, vendors and other boaters. Take advantage of show specials and learn all you can about the latest gadgets, products and services on the market.

Go to marinas! We planned our yearly vacations around going to places where we could see boats and walk the docks. Nothing beats walking up and down the quays, checking out other peoples’ boats in the sunshine and fresh air and imagining, “That could be me...that could be my boat!”

The final step once you’ve identified your dream boat is to check it out in person. There are folks who buy boats online, unseen, but it is not recommended! Go aboard; make sure you don’t bump your head. Can you get in and out of the cockpit easily? Are the galley and the head big enough to turn around? How’s the stowage? Is there easy access to the engine? What gear is included and what shape is it in?

Don’t be shy, check everything. Are there water stains down below, suggesting leaks? Is there rust on any of the hardware, and how bad is it? Are there cracks or soft spots in the fiberglass or wood of the deck? Grab your flashlight and poke your head inside the compartments and under the bunks. You want to see clean, dry surfaces that don’t smell bad! Cosmetic issues can be fixed, and you will most likely make superficial changes to suit you, but you need a solid, undamaged structure to carry you out to sea.

If she passes your inspection, it is wise to have a professional surveyor investigate the boat. A good surveyor gets in all the nooks and crannies, knows how to spot problems, can sniff out dubious areas, and save you a lot of headaches. Most surveyors charge by the size or length of the boat, so agree on a fee in advance, and insist on a written report. If you are financing and/or insuring your new boat, both the bank and the insurance company will insist on a written survey. And one more caveat... do not hire the boat dealer’s or broker’s surveyor, as convenient as it may be. Find your own independent guy or gal to do the job.

Just like with any other big purchase, you can spend as much as you want on a boat. No doubt you will have a budgeted amount, at least a “ballpark figure” that you can invest — at least, most of us will! In general the asking price is not the final price, so go ahead and negotiate. If you are buying through a dealer or broker, the seller typically pays their fee, but that can raise the price by 5% to 10%. If you buy a boat in a foreign country a dealer/broker can help you with the paperwork and documentation, which may be worth their fee. 

Where Should You Buy Your Boat and Start Your Adventure? 

The most obvious answer to this question depends on a couple other questions; namely, where are you and where do you want to sail? Don’t be afraid to buy in a foreign country if that’s where you plan to do your boating. Here are some examples to pique your curiosity and jump-start your search.

East Coast U.S. — If you live in Ohio and you want to get out on the water closest to home before sailing farther afield then you can cruise the Chesapeake Bay and the eastern seaboard. For this it makes sense to shop in Maryland and Virginia. Visit to find sailboats all over the U.S., and you can search by state or manufacturer. They list a 1983, 46-foot Island Trader, which is the perfect live-aboard blend of a sailboat and trawler, for $155,000.

West Coast U.S. —If you want to navigate down the Baja Peninsula to the Sea of Cortez, then southern California is the obvious choice. has hundreds of boats, all over the U.S., and it has good options to refine your search.

Gulf of Mexico—Both Texas and Florida are excellent places to shop, with several boat manufacturers and plenty of marinas. has new and used, sail and power boats, including a 1994, 38-foot Manta Catamaran listed for $175,000 in Palmetto, Florida—a great boat for a family.

Caribbean Region — Rio Dulce, Guatemala, is a boater’s paradise where good deals can be found, and if you buy there, you’re already near the Caribbean! Guatemala Yacht Broker is a local broker with dozens of current listings and knowledge of the area.

Asia — Boats in Singapore or Hong Kong may cost more, but again, if that’s where you want to sail, think of all the time and money you’ll save because the boat is already there. is one site to check, and doing a search for “Asia boats/yachts for sale” will yield several more. You can still find good deals, such as a 2013, 40-foot Bavaria Cruiser sailboat in Singapore for $208,000.

Europe — The Mediterranean is a spectacular boating destination. Everything there may cost more, but maybe it’s worth it. The site is a well-known brokerage site, with many listings from Europe and Turkey. If a cruising power boat is on your list, they offer a 1989, 42-foot Ocean Alexander located in France for $166,000.