Away from the office, Peter is a proud family man and together with his wife Susie, they have three very active children. The Harding family has always loved to sail and Peter’s passion has also led him to take part in three transatlantic races, including an epic 5,000-mile race from France to Mexico in 2010. All three races were undertaken with just Peter and a co-skipper. Sailing two-handed, on a high performance race boat, with freeze-dried food for sustenance and weeks of sleepless nights is a far cry from an Oyster yacht charter.
Peter and Susie Harding, together with their three young sons, Henry, Freddie and Hugo, enjoyed a fabulous time cruising the Grenadines aboard the Oyster 655, Lush, arriving in Grenada just before the start of Oyster’s annual Caribbean Regatta. Their timing was perfect, as having enjoyed some family time, Peter was invited to stay on as crew for the regatta, as Peter explains.
“We have been taking sailing holidays as a family for over 10 years and to begin with we started with bareboat trips with some of the well-known charter companies. Over the years, I came to realise that if you want to do it properly, have a skipper and a cook and go for one of the best boats on the market. This can still be a bit hit and miss, as even with luxury boats you cannot take the arrangement for granted. But chartering with Oyster direct, you get excellent service and you know what you are going to get rather than using a firm that you don’t know much about.
I have been chartering Oysters for the last five years and I have never been disappointed. The results have always been the same, an up market holiday with facilities akin to a five star hotel on the water. When I am with my wife and children, I want something that is as good as home and Oysters are extremely comfortable yachts.
Peter and Susie’s children are aged 6, 8 and 13. Keeping three highly energetic boys busy with activities was very high on the agenda and the holiday on board Lush provided them with all they could ask for.
“The boys absolutely loved Lush, especially all the toys!” Laughed Peter. “They spent a lot of time enjoying sailing the dinghy, water-skiing, wakeboarding and tubing and when they weren’t on the water, they were in it, snorkelling around reefs spotting tropical fish. They also loved the fact that they were waking up in a different place every day. Every morning there was a new place to explore. The boys were never bored, which can happen if you stay in a hotel or villa, the trip to Grenada was a great adventure for them.”
Lush has three luxury guest cabins, that meant there was plenty of accommodation for the Hardings and the crew, which was an important factor to the success of the charter, as Peter details. “With two highly experienced people on board who can sail and really know the boat, you can do as much or as little as you want. You know that you are in a safe pair of hands. Safety is a primary concern to us and an Oyster is extremely well designed and meticulously built. Problems are extremely rare but even if something isn’t working as it should, the level of Oyster’s worldwide service and support is outstanding.
If you have a bareboat charter, you are doing it all yourself and the truth is that the standard of yacht is nowhere near as good as an Oyster. Even if you have chartered the boat before, you have no idea what condition it will be in when you arrive and the level of service is highly unlikely to come close to that which is provided by Oyster.
I love to sail, but it is also nice to have some time-out on board with the family and once in a while let someone else do the sailing and the clearing up behind you. The crew on Lush recognised that and were highly skilled in providing just the right amount of assistance, whenever it was required. Also the crew knew the location extremely well and took us to some of the best places. My wife, Susie, found it very relaxing, she would rather spend the day in casual clothes and not worry about dressing up for dinner, as you would in a hotel and the kids just loved spending the holiday in swimming trunks.”
Whilst Peter has chartered Oyster yachts before, the Oyster Regatta in Grenada was the first time he had come to an organised Oyster event. Peter found that combining a family holiday with the regatta itself, worked extremely well.
“Our leisure time is very important to us. The Oyster Regatta was professionally managed and when you have committed your precious time to an event, a well-run event is vital to its success. Grenada is a wonderful location and the ambience at the Oyster Regatta was superb. The racing was very well organised and whilst I love spending time with my wife and children, it was great to meet other people in the evening at some outstanding parties. The Oyster family comes from all walks of life but all have something in common, sailing. After a day spent yachting in a beautiful location, on a great boat, it was very pleasing to spend time with a friendly group of people with interesting stories to tell. The Oyster team put in extensive research into the event programme and chose some spectacular venues for fabulous dinner parties.”
Oyster Yachts are famous throughout the world. For nearly 40 years, the Oyster marque has established itself as the very best in world-class cruising yachts. This factor carries advantages beyond the luxury of just sailing and chartering an Oyster and, for Peter Harding, makes a lot of sense: “It is great to come to a marina or a bay and to appreciate that people are looking at the yacht. An Oyster is distinctive, it has a presence. It is a yacht that people instantly recognise. Oyster, as a company, is very well-founded, there is a great degree of pedigree there. Attention to detail is as important to me as it is to Oyster. You are dealing with a respected company and you know what you are going to get. For a start you know that the yacht is going to be there. It will be in perfect condition, ready and waiting for you. From the moment we were met at the airport and taken straight to the boat, my family and I were made to feel very special.
Our time on board Lush was a memorable one, especially the pleasure it gave our children, snorkelling and water-skiing. The thrill each morning, as we explored somewhere new was ours to savour. A real adventure for us all and chartering an Oyster is a very practical way of having a great holiday. If like us, you have children still at school, you may only be able to use a yacht for a few weeks a year, so for us at the moment it makes more sense to charter than buy a yacht. What is more, you can charter an Oyster just about anywhere in the world and at any time of the year and after the trip, you can just walk away with happy memories.”
Peter Harding was talking to Louay Habib at the Oyster Regatta in Grenada, April 2011.