The first time I met Mr H it was on board his 35m fishing boat, Seya, in 2013. While the evening's event was technically in honour of the groundbreaking at his latest development, our conversation centred almost solely on the nautical. "I just love boats and being on the water," he told me. "I have always preferred to have many boats all over, even though running them can be a big nightmare … but it is nice to be able to go anywhere and have one ready." During our chat he hinted that he actually had a big project underway in El Gouna, Egypt, that he would hopefully be finishing soon.
When I sit down with him again almost a year later it is at an evening for another one of his luxury developments, this time in the Swiss Alps. Despite the distinctly inland focus of the event, talk naturally once again turns to his boats. He has completed his big project. “Hayama is finished,” he says proudly, flicking through photos on his iPhone. “It was a two-year project. A lot of work, but very cool.”
A 23-year-old, 61m Japanese government tuna fishing boat, Hayama is not your typical explorer yacht. While the lines of her hull are extremely classic, additions during her refit have given her superstructure a rather unexpected profile. “Overall this is a very old boat design that hasn’t changed for years,” says Mr H. “But I made some changes. I lengthened her by 10m, from 51m to 61m, added the master cabin and also the swimming pool, which can be emptied and used to store the tender – a 40ft fishing boat.”
The master cabin is something to behold – it completely transforms Hayama’s exterior profile. To call the design unusual would be an understatement. Looking more like an observation tower, the wooden-clad room is an independent box that sits on metal stilts aft overlooking the pool. “Everyone who sees my room asks me ‘what on earth is that?’” he laughs. “It does look like a sauna. Yes, it stands out, but it's great. I mean, we can jump from my bedroom into the pool!”
Rather than take her to a yard, or even pursue a new build – which he could undeniably afford – every single part of her refit was coordinated by the owner and project managed by Maged Mouftah of National Marine Red Sea. A former boat builder himself, Mr H confesses that part of the enjoyment of projects for him comes from working out how to get what he wants at the lowest possible cost.
master cabin often gets mistaken for a sauna
Joking that he is close to many people who have superyachts that are worth more than his entire fleet, he stresses that the shiny white yachts from northern Europe do not hold appeal for him.
“Lengthening her in Suez was challenging at times but, for me, it was never a case of ‘do they know about superyachts?’” he says. “They are very good at welding steel and know what they are doing when it comes to boats. That is all I wanted. I haven’t even had the steel faired either, it has imperfections. If you are looking for a mirror finish for your paint, then OK, getting your yacht lengthened in Suez is maybe not ideal. But this is an explorer yacht ready for travelling anywhere, not showing off in the marina.”
the outside, no corners we cut in Hayama's interior.
It is clear that Hayama is already perfect in her imperfection for her owner though. He spent two months on board with his family in the same place in Greece this summer, debugging and enjoying his new creation. “I tell you, the most stressful thing during these two months was trying to fit in all the activities that I wanted to do every day,” he says. “I wanted to go diving, fishing, get a massage, go to the sauna … and then there was dinner and drinks. Fitting all this into each day was difficult.”
This project and this summer are all part of a larger plan to tick the last thing off his Bucket List. “I have done everything I want to do before I die,” he says with a smile. “Except a world tour on a boat.” In Christmas 2015, he intends to travel through the Red Sea to Socotra, the Maldives through straight to Australia for the Great Barrier Reef, then on to Papua New Guinea, the Easter Islands and of course the Galapagos.
“Having boats is an incentive to make time,” he concludes. “I feel like I have earned a break after all these years. I just need to organise things now so that when I leave, I can focus on my trip and my boats and I don’t feel like I am leaving a mess behind. I will definitely try to retire on a boat … or several boats.”
The full interview with Hayama's owner, Mr H, can be found in Issue 15 of The Superyacht Owner. Subscribers can read the issue online now here. To become a member of The Superyacht Owner and subscribe, click here.