Unique view of life from mega-yacht

 Stepping onto the mega-yacht Apoise is like stepping into a six-and-then-some-star hotel. It is a multi-decked extravaganza and in the main upstairs lounge lovingly polished hardwoods and soft, welcoming furnishings harmonise in a classic whole.
   Meanwhile, on other decks there are gym facilities, a Jacuzzi, full barbecue facilities and quite wonderful bedrooms that are above top-of-the-range.
   And yet what’s also evident is that despite the golden trim, the televisions that appear from nowhere at the push of a button and the fully-stocked bar in the gorgeous open-plan lounge, there’s a sense of relaxation and comfort that permeates all corners.
   No wonder, then, that the soon-to-be former owner of megayacht Apoise says that the boat has given him and partner Gloria great pleasure over the time they’ve owned it.
   Dave Ritchie is the co-founder of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers and following four years of travelling the world for ten out of twelve months each year he says it was time to spend more time with family.
   The first journey that the family made was a bike ride with friends through France to meet up with Apoise. Like most of their subsequent journeys, they made a video of the experience – the library now nudges 50 different films, memories of a rather special time.
   Dave says that the Apoise is much more of a world-traveller than many boats of its ilk.
   “The difference between this vessel and most of the others is that they go from Europe to the Caribbean, back and forth, and they stay in a very narrow range. But it was never my intention to do that. I wanted to go and see the world and take the time to go to places where I always just went for a few days, had an auction sale, got back on the plane and then go to the next country.
    “This allowed me to really enjoy sitting there and getting to know the people better and having a lot of fun,” he explains.
   This worldview allowed and perhaps demanded trips to unfamiliar ports in China and Russia, says Gloria, who notes that there are obvious benefits from owning such a big vessel.
   “It was interesting – we’ve been places that people never go. And having the boat to live on was half the battle because you don’t have to look for hotels or that sort of thing. Also we have two great chefs on board so we don’t have to worry about the food.
   “They somehow seemed to find everything we needed everywhere in the world. Usually you could find all the fresh fruit we needed,” says Gloria.
   The gregarious Dave was born in 1936 in the Canadian town of Kelowna in British Columbia where his entrepreneur spirit showed through early.
   “As a very young boy I started out with a little second-hand store buying and selling and trading and that’s what we’re still doing,” he says, modestly missing out the subsequent years spent building Ritchie Bros into a worldwide auctioneers along with his brothers. The 220-foot motoryacht was a post-retirement purchase with the original intent being to sail the world for two years.
    That soon expanded to four, the journeys to all corners of the earth including seeing in New Year 2009 virtually directly underneath Sydney Harbour Bridge with fireworks exploding round and about.
   Not only were there plenty of parties on Apoise, there was education aplenty too. On a particularly exciting trip across from Alaska toward Russia over the top of Canada’s Aleutian Islands, Ritchie and his guests came to learn some surprising facts about that part of the world.
   “I didn’t realise that Japan actually invaded the Aleutian Islands and occupied them for a couple of years. War took place in Alaska – it’s something that a lot of people don’t really know about – they bombed places and it was a real serious effort at that time. It could have come right down that West Coast.
   “I never realised that Russia and Japan had a war going on from 1900 to 1926. As a young boy in school I never heard about it. You don’t know those things because you haven’t been there,” mused the businessman.
   Alternatively, as Gloria notes, ‘we didn’t have CNN or BBC in those days either.’
   The view from the deck is one that allows an overview of a country that is rather unique, muses the outgoing owner of Apoise.
   “When coming in [to a port] on a vessel like this you have time; you study everything and you see what’s going into a country and what’s going out of a country and that tells you a lot about a country; what they’re importing and what they are exporting and what kind of facilities they have to handle it, both freight-wise and humans,” he said.
   Apoise flies the flag of Grand Cayman. In Dave Ritchie’s words it’s a country with a lot of potential. Pointing across the water at the Ritz-Carlton, he notes that it’s as good an example of that hotel as you’re likely to see. At present, mega-yachts must anchor carefully on sand away from coral.
   Apoise has therefore been a feature of the middle-distance in Cayman during March 2010 but was not able to moor close to shore so remained a spectral observer, watching the land closely and yet from a distance. Dave concludes that a berthing facility would help matters considerably.
   “You’ve got a 20-man crew, and they all want to spend money, they all want to go down town, have a few beers, have dinner and that’s all business [coming in].
   “I think if Cayman has the ability to accommodate a boat such as this you’d have a whole lot more people coming [on similar boats]. Whether you’d want them or not I don’t know,” laughs the Canadian.
   As the tender pulls away toward West Bay Public Dock, sadly with me on board, I steal a glance back toward the Apoise and perhaps a lifestyle that it has been my pleasure to visit so briefly. It sits high in the water, a seven-decked, multi-million dollar testament to Dave Ritchie’s career and the fundamental restlessness of the soul.
    Sailors worldwide understand it; the sea is always in motion. It’s no coincidence that humans are made from over 60 per cent water. The ebb and flow of day to day life is nothing in the face of that power.

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