The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

Kinship

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

The Hong Kong-based superyacht owner on his lifelong love affair with sailing.

By Dominique Afacan | 19 August 2019

Yachting is in Anto Marden’s blood. Growing up by the water in Hong Kong, he learnt to sail in the beachside neighbourhood of Deep Water Bay aged just seven and spent many a weekend zipping around sailing hotspots like Sheko and Sai Kung on a motorboat with his parents and three sisters. “We had a little dinghy that we used to tow along behind the motorboat,” he says. “It was an amazing childhood.”

After his education in the UK, and with a degree in Chinese and politics in his back pocket, Marden decided to postpone a return to Asia and instead, headed out to the Caribbean to sail tourists between St Maarten and St Barths on catamarans. “It was the best job I’ve ever had,” he jokes. “I used to drink a case of Heineken a day and eat for free from the leftover lobster lunches, I should never have moved on!”

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

He might eventually have moved back to Hong Kong to start working for his father’s shipping company – but his taste for multihull boats never went away – and today, he owns Adastra, an eye-catching trimaran built for world cruising. “The trimaran is the local boat in the Philippines,” explains Marden. “They have a lot of advantages – they are easy to drive and they have a shallow draft.” Having just returned from the Bahamas, Marden has seen first-hand the benefits of the latter. “There were no big yachts there because it’s too shallow, but we could get into Harbour Island and Great Exuma on Adastra.” It can’t hurt, too, that the yacht is capable of crossing the Atlantic twice without refuelling.

The boat itself took three years to build at a shipyard in China, with frequent visits from Marden along the way and input on the interior design from his wife, Elaine. On completion, it was the talk of the town – its unusual silhouette grabbing attention everywhere it sailed. “It’s usually just me and the wife on board nowadays,” says Marden. “My kids are all working so they can’t come along as much as they used to. They grew up on Mazinga.”

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: McConaghy Boats

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: McConaghy Boats

Mazinga is another trimaran that Marden owned before Adastra – and still keeps today. “That was the first serious yacht I owned,” he explains. “It was built in the Philippines – they got a whole bunch of house carpenters and trained them up. In fact, one of them still does the maintenance.” Similarly, the yacht’s captain stayed on board for 35 years of service before retiring this year. “He had become a total member of the family,” says Marden. “We sailed everywhere on that boat. He was exceptional.”

Throughout all the years of yacht ownership, the family have clocked up some exceptional travel memories, but for Marden, the remote islands off Fiji have been the best of the best. “Instead of paying a harbour master, you bring an offering for the island chief and rugby balls for the kids and they effectively check you in and give you freedom of the village. If you are there long enough, you will be adopted by a family and be expected to go with them to village functions and things – it is super cool.”

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: Anto Marden

More recently Marden and his wife travelled to Skiathos and Patmos in the Greek Islands, which proved to be another highlight. “I think the Greek Islands are the best destination in the Mediterranean,” he says. “They are exactly the right distance apart, they are different enough but similar in some sense– and they all have a tavern and a real buzz.”

Closer to home, Marden owns two islands, Pulau Pangkil and Pulau Joyo – much-loved boltholes when the couple need to escape the hectic pace of Hong Kong. “I am off there tomorrow with the family for the week. It’s the best place in the world for a party,” he says, and indeed, the islands are hired out to Singaporean expats for much of the year. Raja Ampat is another family favourite, particularly for its underwater appeal. “There’s the best diving ever there, it’s like diving in an aquarium; it’s absolutely clear.”

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: McConaghy Boats

The yachting adventures of Anto Marden

Photo: McConaghy Boats

Increasingly though, the couple are happy to stay put, which is why, after many years of adventure, Marden has decided to put Adastra on the market. “She is an ocean greyhound – and I just don’t need that sort of a boat anymore,” he explains.

Once sold, Marden will still retain Hang Tuah, a monohull, and his old favourite, Mazinga – more than enough to keep him occupied on the water. And in the meantime, the couple are enjoying their last few trips with Adastra. “There are a few islands in Indonesia I’d still like to go to,” he says. “And soon we are off to Antigua – I was last there in 1975 so I imagine things have changed.” Marden clearly isn’t going to file away his passport quite yet.

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