Following Paul Allen’s trip down the Amazon river, Golden Compass’ owners decided the experience and scenery offered by the Amazon river was worth the trip. “Prior to our trip, the last two boats that went up [the Amazon] were National Geographic boats, and both times they were boarded and people were killed. So people just stopped going up the river. We hired a security company who placed two well-armed guards on board, and we had the most amazing adventure,” the owner tells me. “Like crew, these security guards schedule themselves to cover 24 hours a day. Our two guards did split shifts. There are photos on the slideshow on display in the upper deck salon of the guards who wear all their ammunition on the outside. They really act as a deterrent.”
To make it from Egypt to Dubai, Golden Compass had to pass through the Suzel Canal and across Somalian waters – a high-risk area known for its piracy threat. Increased security was a must. “We had to hire security in both directions; that was a completely different experience. Now you’re hiring professional gunmen. They’re from the army and the navy, and they somehow have an arrangement with certain local governments where they are licensed to transport their weapons through the country, then a boat comes out and meets our tender before the yacht gets into the difficult part of the world; guns and ammunition come aboard and the security staff are already there – there’s three or four members of this security staff and they’re working 24 hours a day,” the owner recounts. “They completely camouflage the boat. They use nets with the intent to send a signal to potential pirates that this yacht is protected by professionals and, again, it’s a deterrent.”
The owners weren’t on board during this particular crossing, but they were monitoring the yacht’s progress and were in constant contact with her captain. “One time I called the captain and I could tell he had it at full speed, because I could see how fast it was going, watching my gallons per hour. I asked him, ‘What’s the rush?’ and he told me the consultants and military staff told him there was a good chance there were some pirates in the area. 'There’s a mothership nearby and we’ve got sightings over here, so let’s just get out', [they said]. He called me an hour later and said, ‘We have just had a British helicopter hover over us for a while. We’re alright; we pulled the throttle back.' It’s just a part of the adventure.”
Find a full interview with one of the owners of Golden Compass, about how he approached entering the superyacht industry and his involvement in the yacht’s refit, in issue 16 of The Superyacht Owner.