Watersports Galore on Catamaran Tedavi. Snorkeling to scuba is a signature feature of many charter yachts. What makes a vacation on Tedavi, a brand new 51′ Fountaine Pajot catamaran, so unique is its crew. Captain Heiko Franken and Chef Rebecca dive in with their charter guests. Both are PADI Divemasters, and both are RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualified. Heiko is also a Freediving Instructor.
Extra special is these proficient watersports professionals’ heart-and-soul passion for providing guests with memory-making marine experiences. This includes helping non-swimmers safely, and perhaps for the first time, dive into the warm Virgin Islands waters. Plus, taking avid watersports enthusiasts on new adventures like freediving.
“A yacht charter is the perfect introduction to the underwater world. Even if you can’t swim, we will hold your hand and ease you into your first snorkel experience. Inevitably, this is life-changing. We don’t drop you off at a snorkel site. We lead the excursion, pointing out marine life and explaining behavior, looking out for currents and boats, and making sure everyone in the group is comfortable and safe,” says Rebecca.
With 17 years of watersports experience, Heiko and Rebecca have guided guests ages 5 to 95 on snorkeling, freediving, and scuba diving excursions. This includes the Caribbean and places with some of the most challenging underwater conditions, like Indonesia, Thailand, Hawaii, and Tanzania.
Previously, Heiko has offered a complimentary introduction to freediving session to interested guests on charter, time permitting. On board Tedavi, Heiko offers an entire freediving course with certification for guests who wish. This is at an additional cost and must be pre-planned before the charter integrates into the itinerary.
“People are always surprised to discover that simply by learning to relax and breathe properly, they can hold their breath much longer than they imagined. They gain a new awareness of themselves, their bodies, and what they are capable of,” says Heiko.
On one charter, Heiko earned himself the title of a real-life ‘Aquaman.’ He and his group of certified scuba divers had just surfaced and were getting back on the boat when one of them realized he’d lost his waterproof case-clad iPhone. The diver seemed to have reluctantly accepted the loss; however, Heiko was determined to find it. Thirty minutes later, Heiko returned to the boat to cheers and utter disbelief, iPhone in his hand. At that moment, Heiko became Aquaman to those guests.
Not surprisingly, Heiko and Rebecca met over their combined love of the water and travel. It was 2015, and both took a Master Freediving course on Utila island in Honduras, and Heiko was in the middle of a year off from his I.T. management job in his native Germany.
Rebecca, who worked in major investment banks in New York City and Hong Kong, and learned to scuba dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, was in her off-season while working in scuba diving in Thailand. Heiko never went home. Instead, he became a freediving instructor and spearfishing guide. He also worked as a safety diver at international freediving competitions, including the world championships. Heiko and Rebecca began chartering in the U.S. Virgin Islands three years ago.
Both are captains with the same professional qualifications. However, Heiko’s role focuses more on the typical captain’s responsibilities, such as sailing the vessel, exterior, and maintenance. Rebecca’s job keys on the typical stew/chef’s responsibilities, such as the interior, guest communications, and culinary. It is in the latter she especially shines. Rebecca tried various flavors, ingredients, and dishes from an early age.
“I grew up on my grandmother’s Chinese cooking, my aunt’s Mediterranean, and my mother’s Japanese cooking. In the 90s, my father ran the most highly regarded Asian vegan fine dining establishment in NYC. This is where I took my first steps into the world of hospitality,” says Rebecca.
Today, her charter cuisine is Mediterranean-, Mexican-, and Asian-inspired, emphasizing fresh ingredients and bold and bright flavors. A specific charter favorite is ‘Hawaii Meets Mexico.’ This is a tostada topped with Hawaiian shoyu ahi poke. It’s a dish inspired by the seafood tostadas Rebecca loved while traveling in Mexico and the poke she frequently ate while living in Hawaii. Heiko often steps in at the end, showing his culinary prowess with desserts inspired by classViewerman recipes.
The large table in Tedavi’s cockpit sits eight comfortably for Viewresco dining. The expansive flybridge, with its lounge seating and 360-degree view, is ideal for cocktails. Either make the perfect perch to dive into a delicious meal or snack. And to gaze at the surrounding seas dreaming of the watersports to dive in and enjoy the next day.