Heavenly Body, Celestial Navigation

By Karen T. Bartlett

 

Vixen II—1st place Antigua classic race 2002.

 

Nat Herreshoff design-New York yacht club 40- hull#7--1915

Vixen -- ''coquette, flirt, temptress,'' my thesaurus says, ''siren, tease, vamp, seducer.'' And so she is: Vixen II, the most sensuous racing yacht in the Med. The sight of her under full sail causes lovers to swoon and hardened yachtsmen to go weak in the knees. With endless history and famous old owners as J.P. Morgan and moviestar Warren Beatty you imagine the celebs strolling over her deck and making me feel rich and famous aswell.

  
Food by Alwin van Burken, www.thatscooking.nl

The 78-foot Edwardian schooner was once the darling of Newport's sailing society, playing host to Kennedys, Morgans and other American royalty. All mahogany and teak, with gleaming brass and crystal accents, Vixen II is appointed with nautical textiles, fine stemware, silver service and Royal Doulton china. Yet she's anything but frilly, exuding a masculine energy worthy of her treelike 72-foot mainmast. But insiders say that when she opens for charter this winter for the first time in more than 20 years, she'll be the most romantic ship in the west Middelterrainian.


Though not a hardened yachtsman, I am a terminal romantic. Since one of my most sensuous memories involves a hammock on the deck of a boat and a hundred shooting stars, I think I'm more than qualified to rate Vixen II's romance quotient.

The company must be oh-so-intimate, just the two of us and a crew, and she must be small enough to slip into secluded coves where we'll swim, au naturel if we wish, among the angelfish. There must be an orgy of culinary delights. I envision platters of lobster and passion fruit, and exotic concoctions of island spirits placed discreetly at our fingertips. And there must be a hammock.

The question about the crew is answered before we ever see the ship. Bronzed and broad-shouldered, Capt. Nicolai Visser  appears at the airport. Sandy-haired with eyes the color of blue Curacao, he hefts our duffels and steers us to a taxi.

The second clue comes at dinner that very night, when he whips up a marinade of lime juice, olive oil, red peppers, fresh cilantro and herbs I don't recognize, transforming fresh grilled snapper into ambrosia.

The food was just amazing, Alwin van Burken is the regular chef on the VixenII and was the youngest chef in holland to receive a Michellin star at the restaurant the Bokkedoorns. On request he will set sail with you and spoil you to death.

After serving dinner under a silvery new moon, he rigs up a hammock on the foredeck. Natives of Venezuela's Orinoco Delta hand made it just for two.

In the morning, we glide into the harbor of a palm-fringed islet where sun worshippers languish on the sand. Several of them rise and plunge lemminglike into the sea to swim in Vixen's enchanted aura. I put away my checklist.


  

Vixen II is actually ''Jessica,'' Hull #7 of a 1915 limited edition of New York 40 Herreschoff’s. Later acquired by renowned surgeon George Schimert of Newport and St. Thomas, she spent a quarter of a century gracing magazine covers and racing with champions. But Dr. Schimert's children drifted away, and Vixen was docked; George II eventually returned to the Caribbean and proved Vixen's mettle against a new generation of challengers, taking trophies in Antigua's Classic Yacht Regatta, winning it in 2002 and Tortola's Sweethearts of the Caribbean races.

Because you have your own definition of romance, there are no packaged itineraries. All the options of the west Med –South of France, Corsica, Sardinia or the Baleares  are yours to choose from: pristine beaches, wrecks, cliffside trails, shops and funky art galleries, and, of course, the legendary island bars, from elegant stargazing terraces to infamous dens of debauchery given to body shots and full-moon parties.

Vixen's stateroom -- the Warren Beatty stateroom with mahogany panels and a dubbelberth perfect for two -- is separated from the crew's quarters by the galley. And if that's not enough privacy, there's always the hammock on the foredeck.

The Vixen II has 3 cabins all with its own shower and toilet, the crew quarters are seperate.

There are 2 dinky’s available, one for free use of guests with 5 hp outboard and one with a 25 hp for transport and watersports as kneeboarding, tubing and wakeboarding. You have access to 3 kite surf sets aswell.

The Vixen is equiped with the latest on navigation communication and safety and has a nice soundsystem inside aswell outside. On days that the sun are covered with clouds you can read from the ships library or watch a dvd in the comfort of your own cabin.  

Posted online 09/04/01.

© 2007 Bonnier Corporation, Inc.  Story published in October 2001

 

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