Our existence seems to be a series of silos, each representing a chapter of activities. In our 12 years in Charleston, SC, my silo was property development and construction, with the two going hand in hand. Around 40 historic renovations with a “Whitelaw Award for Preservation” from the Historic Charleston Foundation along the way. Fifteen new builds around town and Folly Beach, and 50 individual workforce homes on the peninsula at Union Heights. More recently, we moved our family to Palmetto Bluff, SC, where we also have built four custom homes and have a handful of renovations underway. Time passes for all of us, and it is a trade that must be sensitive to how the market moves. Two years ago, we saw that change coming and decided on a change in personal direction. Here follows our story.

I was a sailor in the UK Merchant Marine when I was young. In truth, I ran off to sea, which was much more fun than High School in 1970s Britain. My family has nine generations of sailors, with my first born son being the 10th. I always loved the sea, though she has her cruel moments. As time has passed, my love for the sea has never been far from my mind, and my desire to share the vast waterways with my youngest son at the forefront.

We decided to take our family back from the hustle and demands of the everyday, and sail for a year or two, so we needed a plan. From its inception two years ago, the plan developed slowly, forced along by an extended search for a yacht to satisfy my wife’s concerns for safety and comfort, and my more loose demands for all but adventure. We also looked at how to finance the project, given that commercial bank funding was unavailable. So we developed a split process. Firstly, we set about creating five good quality, short-term rental properties in Palmetto Bluff that would solidly deliver reliable cash flow, three now completed and two due in early 2023. Our property rental company based in Charleston, Luxury Simplified Retreats will oversee their operation. The second thread was to create our yacht and make it real.

We visited Turkey in Christmas 2021. An excellent yacht building center is around Antalya and Izmir, south of Istanbul. With the pandemic raging, the team at Naval Yachts of Antalya were short of orders and treated us well. By March 2022, we had agreed on our contract and a broad specification. A near 80-foot aluminum hull motor yacht built to commercial specification.

Capable of 7000-mile range on a single fuelling and designed for short-handed operation (our family). She is certified to operate to 80 degrees latitude north in the summer months. That will take us to the Arctic ice shelf. My seafaring background was helpful in this process, although somewhat outdated over time. Youtube has become a great educator where needed!

Our yacht Vanguard will be launched in March 2023 (we hope). Revenue from our vacation rental portfolio is the operational funding. In general, we project operating costs of those similar to a good quality coastal home in the lowcountry. Vanguard’s operating expenses may prove to be a little higher depending on where we go.

An opening comment of mine is life does not last forever. A good policy is to grab hold of it and not let go, no matter how hard it shakes you. Our response? Grab on and dream big, however insane it may appear. If you have the mind, follow our journey on its web page at exploreryacht.com, or find us on either Facebook or Instagram and follow our journey there.

If the inclination beckons, you can do this too, and we will show you just how achievable it can be. So claimed the man who ran off to sea both as a boy and a retiree.

Simplified Construction Chris Leigh-Jones

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