The 137-foot luxury expedition yacht, The Big Blue, anchored just outside of Avalon Harbor last weekend. It was built in a Turkish shipyard, Troy Marine, and launched in 2010, then named the Imbros.
It got the name The Big Blue, after Tony and Delisa Mayer bought her in 2012 to take her on the adventure of a lifetime – a year-long family cruise in the South Pacific. It was a long-time dream to travel the world. But before that cruise began the yacht went through a 15-month refit at Derecktor Florida.
The Mayers had a heilpad added, Tony is a helicopter pilot, and family flights around various countries were in their plans. The inside was completely redesigned, creating a classroom for their three kids and a tutor, who taught them an international homeschooling curriculum (supplemented by four to five field trips, attended by the full family, each week).
While the refit was being completed, the Mayer’s planned their journey with their captain, Gareth Sheppard. It was largely modeled after the travel plan of The World, the residential cruise ship that circumnavigates the world and has made port calls on Avalon several times over the years. They choose the South Pacific because it’s an area that’s hard to get to, and they realized they wouldn’t have another opportunity to spend an extensive amount of time in that part of the world.
The first stop in the region was Tahiti, with plenty of swimming and diving, everyone in the family is a certified diver. They wanted to visit as many countries as possible, so they averaged two weeks in each lo-
cation. The Cook Islands were next, but a cyclone changed that and they headed for New Zealand, where they spent far more time than expected, two months, due to the stormy season.
In New Zealand they made many fond memories and learned about the geology of the country, dove in a shark cage off Stewart Island and had such a positive experience they filmed a video with the New Zealand tourist board to help get the word out about yachting opportunities there.
There have been an array of learning opportunities aboard and ashore from Palau to French Moorea, from Fiji to the Tuamotus. Local guides were invited aboard for in-depth information and land excursions brought the family in touch with various cultures.
The Big Blue’s crew even added to the kids education: captain Sheppard taught the kids how to navigate; the boson taught them how to fish; the chef showed them how to clean and cook fish; the engineer showed them how the water-
makers process saltwater into drinking water; and one of the deckhands taught them knot tying.
From so many perspectives, lessons of a lifetime were learned onboard and ashore. It was a trip that was not only educational, but gave the Mayer family a treasure chest full of memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.
The Mayer family is from Colorado, where Tony Mayer is the CEO of Captiva Resources, a Denver-based oil and gas exploration and production company and founder of Arta Tequila. He is the son of Frederick Mayer, who was the founder of Exeter Drilling Company, which in 1980 was the largest privately held American drilling company and it was then sold to People’s Energy Company of Chicago for $134.5 million.
The Big Blue, powered by 2 Volvo Penta D16 MH 739 diesel engines, is capable of a top speed of 14 knots and comfortably cruises at 11 knots. She has a maximum range of 4,606 nautical miles at 10 knots. She sleeps 10 guests in five cabins: a master suite, a VIP stateroom, a double cabin and two twin cabins. Also, she can carry a crew of eight in four cabins. The Big Blue has a beam of 27-feet, and the length at the waterline is 122-feet.
Story and Photos by Barbara Crow