Mortgaging everything they owned and embarking on a brave journey, the Ercegovic family commenced the build of their first yacht in 2009, which they intended to crew themselves and run as a charter business. Three years later Navilux was launched as the first charter yacht in Croatia. Now in their fourth summer season, the family have learnt a lot, and are using their experience for their next project. TCR speaks to Ivana Ercegovic, yacht manager and chief stewardess, about the family’s unique position as both owners and crew.

Ivana's father is the captain of Navilux, along with three other family members that form part of the crew

TCR: What was the driving force behind Navilux?

Ivana Ercegovic: We wanted to start something new and enter a completely new niche. We saw an opportunity in the market for this type of charter and we know that being first with a business is very important  - my family likes to set standards and be first in everything we do.

We knew that with our experience and knowledge in sailing we could deliver unique and great service to clients. Out of the eight crewmembers on board Navilux, four of them are family members, which we believe gives a very unique experience to clients. It means the atmosphere on board is very friendly and our clients always comment that they feel at home, which is what we always strive to achieve.

"Out of the eight crewmembers on board Navilux, four of them are family members, which we believe gives a very unique experience to clients."

Has managing the build of Navilux been successful to your family’s charter business and role as crew?

Managing our boat since the beginning has had many privileges. The first benefit was that we were able to significantly reduce the cost during the building period. My family has a long tradition in sailing and my father is the sixth generation of captains and private boat owners. We know every single thing about building the boat; we chose the suppliers directly, supervised the workers and created a yacht that was completely our own desires.

When you are able to understand how everything works on a boat then you have an advantage in choosing all the equipment yourself and placing it on a boat which in the end reduces the cost of building because you are not paying any consultants but ordering directly from the manufacturers.

Ivana working on board Navilux

Your family’s next project is to build a new boat, the 46m Aiaxaia. What will you do differently?

We have learned a lot on Navilux that we will implement on Aiaxaia. We have seen what areas need to be bigger and how to create the space more efficiently. The main idea of Navilux will also transfer to Aiaxaia; Navilux is a strong steel yacht, which performs excellently at sea. Aiaxaia will be built in a similar way but with some interior and design changes.

Once again we are taking care of every detail and putting a lot of effort into creating our perfect yacht. The thing that is special for Aiaxaia is that she will sail in the Caribbean during the winter and the Mediterranean during the summer. Since we have decided to charter in the Caribbean, we are now adapting Aiaxaia with all the technical specs to match the weather conditions there, which are very different to Croatia. We are doing something new and challenging ourselves, but we love it!

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