We meet Anil Thadani, owner of the 45-metre Vripack Latitude, to discover why she is the perfect yacht for taking on the Northwest Passage and more
For more on Latitude’s epic voyages – taking on the Northwest Passage twice, and becoming the first yacht to reach 82˚ North – in the first part of our feature here
How did you come to own Latitude?
After owning several smaller boats – a 48ft Imago and three Pershings (64ft, 80ft and 92ft) – I had pretty much had my fill of cruising around in Phuket and Malaysia, and diving in those waters. I wanted something with a bit more range, which would make it possible to go further. I started looking at yachting magazines and then contacted a couple of brokers. Simon Goldsworthy at Camper & Nicholsons understood most clearly what I was looking for, and he started showing me boats, both on paper and with actual visits to the South of France and Italy. I looked at 27 boats for sale but there was always something missing. Latitude was the first boat I saw that ticked all the boxes – build quality, age, facilities, size, range and, of course, price!
Was it always your intention to cruise adventurously?
I enjoy photography and my favourite subject is wildlife. I also enjoy being in the wilderness and going to places that have not been frequented by many. What I was clear about in my mind was that I did not want to use the boat to cruise the Mediterranean and Caribbean. I wanted to go to places where I would not otherwise have gone. Of course, the extent to which we actually fulfilled this desire for adventure went far beyond what I had expected but it was basically a combination of the enthusiasm of Sean and myself, and a young and eager crew that was willing to try anything.
What have been your favourite aspects of the yacht?
The thing that impressed me most about Latitude the minute I first boarded her was the build quality. It felt like a yacht that had been built for heavy-duty use. The way it has performed through three summers in the Arctic Circle has confirmed my original impressions. There are several other features that I liked. The bridge has a large seating area so there is plenty of room for guests to hang out there while the yacht is under way – the bridge is the most interesting place to be, so this is a nice feature. I like the fact that there is a day head on every level – from the garage to the bridge deck. I thought the crew quarters were well designed and relatively comfortable for a 45-metre yacht. Finally, the sundeck is uncharacteristically large for a yacht of this size – this will be a very useful feature once we get to warmer climates.
What have been your most memorable moments on board the yacht?
Considering how we have used the yacht, you’ll realise that there have been too many memorable moments for me to list here. However, a few that come to mind are these:
• Whale watching in Newfoundland.
• Dodging icebergs and large floes of ice while trying to get into the harbour in Ilulissat, Greenland. That is a five-to-seven mile journey that will stay with all of us forever.
• Seeing our first polar bear on the cliffs of Scotts Island.
• Sailing around Beechey Island and Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic are some of the most graphic memories I have. We had clear blue sky days with the water surface like glass. Absolutely perfect yachting conditions with the most spectacular landscapes that you can imagine.
• A four-hour up-close encounter with a polar bear we named Jerome and a two-hour encounter with a polar bear mother with two cubs on an ice-floe. We learned a lot about these incredible creatures.
• Being stuck in the tender in ice for about seven hours in a snowstorm in the Bellot Strait with polar bears around us.
• Being hit by a 30-40ft rogue wave at 5am while sailing from Dublin to London. I was knocked out of bed and landed on the floor. The sofas in the main salon were thrown across the room and ended up on top of each other. A big photo printer was thrown off its stand, flew across the room, and ended up going right through the wooden door of a cabinet in the library.