Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Nigel Plaskett (centre-right) with the crew on board Ocean Emerald

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Nigel Plaskett (centre-right) with the crew on board Ocean Emerald

Journeys

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

From his base in the Gulf of Thailand, superyacht owner Nigel Plaskett has some exceptional yachting destinations on his doorstep.

By Dominique Afacan | 9 September 2020

“Yachting is in my blood,” says superyacht owner Nigel Plaskett. “I grew up in Hampshire, but we’d go across to the Isle of Wight or around the Solent on a boat when I was young, and I also used to help out with cleaning, painting and sanding boats on my weekends.” Still a teenager, Plaskett managed to get a few hundred pounds together to buy a small cabin cruiser on the Thames.

Fast forward to today, and Plaskett has relocated to the Gulf of Thailand and upgraded to Ocean Emerald, an eye-catching motor yacht designed by British architect Norman Foster, who also happens to be the talent behind the Monaco Yacht Club. “Ocean Emerald is a yacht that divides opinion, you either love it or hate it,” says Plaskett. He has had the yacht for seven years now, and it is clear he falls into the former category. “I like it because it’s different,” he explains.

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Ocean Emerald

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Ocean Emerald

“I usually spend about three months a year cruising on it,” he says. “And another three months doing charters.” Unusually, Plaskett stays on board for charters, out of sight, but available in case of any problems.” There’s a tried and tested route we tend to do,” he says. “Phuket down to the islands around Langkawi that are out of reach for people on day trips. We’ll also spend quite a lot of time around Koh Samui and Koh Phangan National Park, with its beautiful waterfalls and wildlife.”

With perfect weather for most of the year, incredible palm-fringed beaches, delicious food and plenty of culture on land, it’s no wonder that the region is one of the most popular for visiting superyachts and charter guests, but Plaskett has recently been venturing further afield. ‘I’ve been to the Philippines, Cambodia and Burma,” he says. “These more remote places are so interesting.” Vietnam also stands out, with the spectacular landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay and white sand, deserted beaches on Phu Quoc Island.

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Nigel Plaskett

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Nigel Plaskett

Burma is his current favourite, where he finds peace and quiet, far from the yachting crowds. “Very few yachts get to Burma, so you can be cruising for days and all you see is fishing boats,” he explains. “It’s not been commercialised at all yet. There are lovely islands around there and the water is so clear. It’s so quiet.” Plaskett first visited with his 34-year-old son, who also lives in Thailand. His other three children – a son and two daughters – all live back in the UK, so yachting trips are more of a once-a-year affair.

“I then went again with some Italian charter guests,” says Plaskett. “The coastline is stunning. You can stop at places like Ngapali Beach, a 15 mile stretch of golden sand with very few people around.”

Next, he’d like to explore more of the Philippines and he also has the Maldives in his sights for the winter season. “There is a new marina there,” he explains, “and obviously there is such beautiful marine life in that part of the world.” In fact, the Baa Atoll is one of the few places in the world where encounters with whale sharks are nothing out of the ordinary. The giant manta rays of Hanifaru Bay are another powerful draw for divers.

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Baa Atoll, Maldives

Sailing in Thailand, Burma and beyond

Baa Atoll, Maldives

Plaskett still works, whether on charters or on his business interests in the UK and Thailand – but happily, he can do most things remotely from the comfort of Ocean Emerald. “I have a cabin that I use for work,” he says. “The temperature is more bearable on board than on land, so I often use the boat as an office, even when it is parked up in the marina”

Plaskett has retained a crew that have been on board for years, lending the boat a grounded, familiar feel that was always important to him. “I think even the newest recruit has been with us for about three years,” he says. Interiors-wise, Plaskett opted for a change in ambience right from the start, hiring local Thai companies to help with design, transforming it into an altogether more homely place to spend time.

Food is the finishing touch and with both a French chef and a Thai chef on board, Plaskett, his friends and family, and his charter guests are spoilt for choice.

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