#humansofyachting – Stephen Maitland-Oxley
The owner of classic cruiser Deramore was an unlikely convert to the world of sailing. Now, he can’t get enough.
“My partner is a very keen sailor but I wasn’t ever particularly into it as I used to get very seasick. She once took me on a sailing holiday around Ischia and the Italian Tuscan islands with the children and unfortunately, everything that could go wrong went wrong. Beyond my seasickness, we lost the anchor, the engine broke and we got caught in a storm – the list goes on. By the time I got back on land I said I would never step foot on a boat like that again, so my partner encouraged me to go and find a yacht that fitted my requirements.
Superyachts are getting bigger and bigger but back in her day, Deramore, the boat I finally found, would have been one of the biggest on the market. I was drawn to her because of her interesting history – she was built by UK builders Dagless back in 1971 and had a lot of character about her. After a decade spent sitting in Menorca, she needed a lot of care and attention. The interior was an ode to 1970s avocado melamine – but my partner and I spend a lot of time restoring properties in Italy, so updating everything didn’t scare us.
When we ripped everything out, we discovered all the original mahogany panelling, which was a nice surprise. We pretty much learnt from the ground up how to rebuild and restore a wooden yacht. I was lucky enough to find the captain of the sister ship who was very helpful, too. Of all the Dagless Yachts made, I think there are only about four or five still in existence. There’s quite an active community of people swapping stories and trying to track down the others.
Since she launched, we’ve sailed all over the Mediterranean, with the kids and the dogs and the cats. Can you imagine two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, two Jack Russells, one cat and a canary all on one boat? Although she’s only 25 metres, the way she is built means there is an awful lot of space. The two master cabins even have full-size bathtubs. Essentially, Deramore is built like an English house – I look at her as a floating English cottage.
When we started doing charters, I discovered that you needed a commercial captain’s licence, so I rushed back to England to do my skipper’s course. It was really good – everything you learn has value. And, somehow, my seasickness disappeared. I ended up enjoying sailing so much that I started doing deliveries for yachts throughout the Med, including a gorgeous Swan 65.
When we did charters, the kids ended up being crew, and I did the captaining. I was frequently invited to join the guests on the back deck for gin and tonics which rather annoyed the rest of the family! I do generally find it easier to spend time with the children at sea though; especially if it’s sunny and there are rewards of doing things like going on doughnuts and waterskiing. It’s a fun family experience.
The best trips we’ve done have been down the Tuscan archipelago – mooring up outside Hotel Pellicano. We are planning this year to cross over to the eastern side of Italy and then head to Greece to do all the Ionian islands. The previous owner took the boat all over the world and she’s been to the Caribbean before – it might be nice to try to get her back there one more time.
My job is running the London Motor Show so anything to do with cars and engines keeps me very happy. I think it’s fantastic that car brands are linking up with yacht builders for projects more and more – especially when it comes to sharing technology. One of the biggest issues in the yachting industry is the carbon footprint from diesel engines but we are seeing a lot of tech being transferred from automotive into the yachting world. The next few years will bring some fascinating developments.
As someone who once couldn’t stand on a quayside looking at boats without feeling sick, I must admit that I am thoroughly converted to the yachting life.”