Taki

A classic head-turner

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

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On board S/Y Bushido

I know, I know, it’s a bit much, filing from one’s yacht — but, what the hell, it’s not every day that hacks own boats. One thousand, one hundred square metres of sail, 125ft-long overall, steel hulled and very fast downwind, she is my latest pride and joy, now that I’ve been shot down at the Oxford Union, that is. Mind you, I began thinking about building a boat only three years ago. All my other ones were hand-me-downs from my old dad. The reason for building from scratch was that classic sailing boats were on the market but at astronomical prices that not even Russian oligarch-crooks could afford. As I love only classic ones, the deal was on. My friend George Nicholson introduced me to Paolo Scanu, the Italian naval architect, who chose Gek-Lift, a Turkish yard in Bodrum, and although way behind schedule it has delivered not only a true classic, but also a rare thing of beauty.

My instructions were very simple. She had to be a head-turner. And she sure is. She has a black hull with gold trim, Bushido (the code of the Samurai) written in subtle gold letters, and the deck is teak and mahogany. With four double cabins, each with bathroom and shower en-suite, she is of fairly heavy displacement — 180 tonnes — but very traditional in appearance. When I first decided to build, I wanted a 90-footer run by three crew. I ended up with a 125-footer and minimum six crew. She is a ketch and looks like a mini-Creole, the ill-starred magnificent classic yacht owned by Stavros Niarchos and later by the murdered Mauricio Gucci. (The wife had him knocked off and she’s at present doing a Taki for life.)

I don’t know if impatience is one of the deadly sins, but I sure suffer from it. For example, the idea of waiting a week or two for a girl to make up her mind is totally unacceptable. Even worse is the idea of having to wait to see the finished boat — sheer hell. My remedy was not to go anywhere near where the boat was being built and outfitted (Turkey and France) until the very end. The mother of my children had predicted a disaster all along, but unlike most women she did something about it. She flew to Turkey and changed some very modern cabin designs into probably the most beautiful classic interiors afloat anywhere. Ditto my daughter, who designed the saloon and advised on the materials. Even though I say so myself, these two should go into the business of designing boat interiors. What one sees nowadays is absolute crap — cheap, plastic and garish decoration, with chandeliers and vulgar furniture which at times shame even their ghastly owners.

And speaking of garish people, this year takes the cake. By far. Never have I seen so many uglies on such humongously ugly boats. To my horror, many of them are American, fat-bellied, baseball-capped, trash-talking billionaires with their baseball-capped, water-sipping wives and tarts. Then come a few Russian crooks on giant refrigerator-on-steroids-like gin palaces, followed by shady Arabs crouching in their tents situated just below the winches and above the waterline. Oh, yes, I forgot, there is also a charter by Puff Daddy, the gangsta rapper-cum-multimillionaire who has not only given gangsters a bad name, he also makes the rest of the vulgarians seem to possess plenipotential dignity by comparison.

Luckily, I have good friends and family on board. My son with a beautiful Spanish senorita, Andrea, my daughter with her Greek beau, Lord John Somerset with Rosie Hanbury, and Count Roffredo Gaetani, Italy’s greatest seducer, with the exquisite Svetlana, a woman whose looks could launch 10,000 missiles and then some. I have not as yet ventured out to mix with the vulgarians, but now that the mother of my children has left the boat, it won’t be long in coming. There is something decidedly fascinating in seeing such horrors, or perhaps it’s just that they make one feel superior. I don’t know and probably never will, but one cannot do anything against the punani. For any of you dear readers unfamiliar with the word punani, it is Jamaican argot. A Jamaican percussionist was complaining to Johnson Somerset about his woman. ‘I cannot take it any more, she is driving me crazy. I hate that bitch. I’m through. But, Johnson, no matter what I say, there is nothing I can do. She has the punani.’ And then hung his head and cried. I agree. They have the punani, and no matter what we do and how big and beautiful a boat we build, they who have the punani have the last word.