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When the world’s largest sailing catamaran arrives in French Polynesia in July 2013, Captain Gavin Bladen will be at the helm. Did he ever imagine he would be heading to the South Pacific aboard such an incredible yacht as Hemisphere? Q HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BOUND FOR THE SOUTH PACIFIC ABOARD HEMISPHERE? A In 1992-1993 I spent a year working on live-aboard dive boats out of Australia, so taking Hemisphere south, through the Pacific and eventually to the Antipodes, will be like going full circle in my career. It is very exciting to be going back on such an incredible vessel. With our first year of successful Mediterranean and Caribbean seasons under our belt, we are ready and eager to set sail further afield. Q HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR CRUISING IN A NEW REGION? A Hemisphere is a natural nomad! Since leaving the Pendennis shipyard, she has cruised over 18,000 nautical miles and visited over 26 different countries in her first year, so researching new destinations is an element of my day-to-day job! We also have very good relationships with support companies based in French Polynesia, like Tahiti Private Expeditions, who handled a two week dive trip in Tahiti for the owner some years ago. Q WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST? A Where to start?! Flying over the South of France earlier this year, looking down at hundreds of yachts huddled together in the various anchorages only strengthened the urge to escape to somewhere unspoilt and different. I’ll never tire of what nature has to offer here. Pristine coral, and fabulous reef creatures, like the beautifully coloured and intricate cleaner shrimp, or the Napoleon wrasse which grows over seven feet long and swims in schools of 30 plus. There are giant manta rays with a 22ft wing span and a multitude of shark species. I’d also love to see the humpback whales migrate through Tahitian waters – sightings are possible between August and October, especially around Moorea. Then there are the people. For thousands of years, the Pacific islands have supported civilizations with the skills to harness the natural resources of the area. Their unique customs and rituals are a privilege to witness and sometimes be part of. Q WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF CHARTERING HERE? A See above! French Polynesia is perfect for anyone looking for adventure and downtime. The climate is ideal: May to October is generally regarded as the ‘dry season’ with temperatures from 20ºC (68ºF) to 29ºC (84ºF), but the cruising is good year round. If you enjoy perfect beaches or lazy days on board, Hemisphere offers the very best amenities, cuisine and service. If you want to make the most of your ‘play time’, we have all kinds of water toys, and we can arrange trips ashore, kayaking and snorkelling trips, or you can try scuba diving for the very first time with a ‘discover scuba’ diving lesson. We also have a 54ft (16m) custom sport fishing boat to go after large game fish such as marlin and sailfish, which are tagged and released, or if your catch is smaller our chef will prepare a delicious seafood meal. Hemisphere is a PADI-certified dive training facility. We carry two highly experienced PADI instructors on board to look after our guests, from novices to experienced divers. If you wish to obtain certification, we offer online theoretical training, including the multiple choice tests, which you can take before you travel to the yacht, so no time is wasted on board. Q Q WHAT CAN YOUR GUESTS EXPECT OF THEIR SOUTH PACIFIC CHARTER? A French Polynesia covers a huge area, with six distinct island groups, but the principle cruising grounds are the Societ y Islands, which extend north-west from Tahiti; the Tuamotu Archipelago, the largest group of coral atolls in the world which arcs for hundreds of miles north-east and south-east of Tahiti; and the Marquesas, even further away to the north-east. Because of the distances involved bet ween the island groups, most charters focus on one area, but it’s ea sy to spend a couple of weeks or more in these spectacularly diverse cruising grounds and experience something new everyday. The Society Islands feature dramatic volcanic landscapes, with steep green hillsides and rock formations. From the black sand beaches of Tahiti to the pearl fishing grounds of Bora Bora makes a wonderful one-way downwind charter. The Marquesas are truly off-the-beaten-track, remote, wild and spectacularly beautiful. The T uamotus are white fringed and low-lying, picture-book South Sea atolls of palm trees, turquoise waters and protected coral gardens. T o explore the Tuamotus, guests may fly in from Tahiti to join Hemisphere at Rangiroa or Fakarava. Q CAN YOU OUTLINE YOUR CRUISING PLANS? A Typically, yachts in more remote destinations or on circumnavigations are available for short charters, in a wide variety of places to fit in with the owner’s predetermined schedule. We’re taking a different approach, making it much easier for guests to plan and book. From May 2013 to the end of the year, Hemisphere will be using Tahiti as a base for charters in French Polynesia. If this approach is successful we’ll relocate to Fiji and use this as a base for 2014 (also covering Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Soloman Islands) and then finally onto New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea in 2015. CAPTAIN GAVIN BLADEN HEMISPHERE: TAHITI destination: south pacific { 90 }


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