An Education at Sea

Six-year old Colby has walked with Komodo dragons and snorkelled with manta rays


An Education at Sea

Superyachts can become floating classrooms, with multiple stops across the globe. We take a look at the rise of private tutors being hired for superyachts.

By Dominique Afacan | 26 February 2018

Tell your kids that you’re taking them on an educational field trip – and their reaction might not be overly positive. Tell them you’re going to explore the world together on board a superyacht, however, and the response will likely be far more enthusiastic. In reality though – they are one and the same. Or at least they can be.

The number of private tutors being hired for superyachts is on the rise. Adam Caller noticed the increased demand when he was running Tutors International, and eventually launched Sea Tutors three years back when it was clear there would be sufficient demand for this niche service. “People have this fantastic asset,” explains Caller,“ and they often can’t use it as much as they’d like because their children have to go to school.” The conclusion more and more families are coming to is to bring a tutor on board.

Caller offers a bespoke service, so parents can opt to stick to the standard curriculum – ensuring that kids return to school up-to-date with everything they might have missed – or take the opportunity to teach their children things they feel might be missing from their school education. “Often that’s stuff like coding, playing musical instruments, or getting involved with local communities,” says Caller.

An Education at Sea

Mark Robba and his son, Colby. Photo by Kara Murphy

The latter is particularly popular, given the exotic destinations the boats are often travelling to. “It’s not all about the luxury of being on a boat with 20 staff looking after you – it’s about the child having more contact with the world, not less,” says Caller. With superyachts travelling further and further afield, often to the most remote regions on earth, this is an increasingly valid point. Even without a tutor on board, the contact with new cultures and new places can be hugely enriching for children.

Mark Robba would be the first to agree. When his sailing yacht Dunia Baru was launched, his son Colby was just two years old. Four years on, he’s seen him reap the benefits of superyacht life first-hand. Colby has played with the children of Moken Sea Gypsies on the beach in the Mergui Archipelago, walked with Komodo dragons and snorkelled with manta rays in Raja Ampat. Not a bad bunch of life experiences for a six year-old.

Robba believes the experience of yachting has had a profound influence on Colby. “Being on a boat and going to so many places and experiencing so many different cultures has to have a very positive benefit on kids. It will most certainly make them more aware of the environment and how they fit into the world.”

An Education at Sea

Colby enjoying the view in Komodo

So far, their trips have been planned around Colby’s school holidays – but there are plans for a longer voyage in future. “We plan to do the South Pacific in a few years – most likely it will be a six month trip,” says Robba. “Then we will bring a tutor on board so that he can keep up with school. One of my goals, though, is to make Colby a watersports expert – I want him to know there are other choices in life besides nine to five jobs.”

Somebody who knows all about that is Richard White, an expedition leader with EYOS Expeditions, a company that specialises in accompanying superyachts travelling to remote destinations. For White, there is no destination too far-flung for family yachting trips. “Children have been everywhere I have gone. There is nowhere that they should not go, and no experience that they cannot get something out of,” he says.

He cites multiple examples of being on board with three generations of the same family, including a recent Christmas voyage to Antarctica. “The key is family,” he says. “A well-engaged family on an expedition superyacht – whether owned or chartered – will provide experiences to last a lifetime.”

An Education at Sea

An expedition in Antarctica can be an educational experience for the whole family

One stand-out memory for White was seeing children from an expedition yacht playing with local children on a remote island in Melanesia. “The difference in background and appearance could scarcely have been any greater, but children play just the same as any other child on a beach.”

Beyond these remarkable destinations, the boats themselves and specifically the crew on board, can also have a beneficial influence. Dunia Baru has a crew of 18 who Robba describes as a second family. “Colby has so much attention and support while we are cruising – this not only benefits him but it also gives us parents some time together. Travelling on a yacht simply can not be beaten.”