A Day in the Life – Grant Ruffel

Grant, Captain of Soneva in Aqua, a Luxury Yacht in the Maldives

Captain of Soneva in Aqua

Grant has been captaining boats of all kinds in a multitude of places around the globe for more than two decades. After being in charge of one of the first electrically propelled super yachts in excess of 100t, he discovered Soneva, and was drawn to the philosophy practiced at the resorts and was excited to continue to play a part in the evolution of sustainability.

It’s pretty difficult to nail down a set routine for my day – it is one of the cool things about my job!

If I have a charter booking my focus would be on making sure the guests have the best possible experience based on their personal interests. Everyone is different, so I have to be very flexible. Because I’m so passionate about what I do, it’s easy to convey that energy into a positive experience for all. We offer a variety of charters onboard Soneva In Aqua. Our anchorages, diving spots, surf breaks and cruising grounds all change depending on the weather, guest preferences and the mood onboard.

Charter life

Wake up early and take the guests out in the tender to one of the outer islands, hoping to catch a few waves as the sunrise signals the start of a new day (often sharing the waves with playful spinner dolphins). Bring the guests back to the yacht, lift the anchor and sail to any one of the many amazing dive sites within the protection of the Atoll while they have breakfast. We often organise a yoga session on the foredeck to stretch out the body after or before any activity, or some morning meditation depending on what the guests prefer.

At around 11-12 we would get the SCUBA or snorkelling gear ready to explore the marine world beneath the hull. If the yacht is secure and it’s a large group I often get into the water to “help lead the dive” (give me any excuse to get in the water!). After the dive we might offer our guests a Castaway Picnic on an uninhabited island or a four-course bespoke lunch prepared by our onboard chef.

From the sunsets to the nights

Before the sun sets, we could set up a romantic beach barbecue where guests can stargaze from the privacy of their very own beach after watching the sun sink below the horizon. Another popular evening experience is our glass bottom Jacuzzi in the master bedroom. The underwater lights attract all sorts of fish at night making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

All these options might sound amazing but the work behind the scenes can be incredibly demanding. My responsibilities extend well into the night, long after the guests are dreaming of catching that perfect wave or swimming with the ever-graceful manta rays. I have to constantly check the weather, make sure the anchor is secure and always check that the onboard equipment is functioning as it should. Luxury onboard a yacht is never simply lighting a room with the flick of a switch or running hot water by turning the tap or having climate control at the touch of a button. A deeper understanding is needed to make these seemingly mundane luxuries a constant reality and one of the reasons I still turn off the shower water when washing my hair or make sure all unnecessary lights are off if not needed!

My days on the island

When I am not busy with charters and the yacht secured to her mooring off Soneva Fushi, my day generally follows a different routine:

If there is swell forecasted, I’m up before sunrise to catch a few waves before having breakfast between  07:15 – 07:45. By 08:00 I’m generally at my desk going through the daily memo and checking in-house guests, which together with internal information gathered from the Barefoot Guardians, helps me pin point the guests who would not want to miss out on the magic that Soneva in Aqua can offer.

At 08:30 I head to the morning briefing, which is attended by all team heads. Here we discuss the details of the day’s events, guest arrivals and departures, and any important issues that may need to be dealt with. After the morning briefing, I have a meeting with Soneva in Aqua’s crew to discuss things like the maintenance schedule, outstanding jobs and what needs to be done in preparation for the next charter.

By this time the guests start arriving for breakfast and I take the opportunity to introduce myself and offer a tour of the yacht. Once onboard, guests are always pleasantly surprised. The internal volume for a vessel of this length is much bigger than expected. The classically elegant design is striking and kept in immaculate condition.

Maintaining Soneva in Aqua

Due to the complexity of the vessel we are often faced with mechanical issues that need immediate attention. Luckily, I have an engineer onboard but often prefer to get personally involved. I feel it’s important to have a hands-on approach to both better understand the condition of the yacht and to appreciate the hard work my crew are constantly doing to keep the yacht in a safe state for all that come onboard.

Whenever I am not on charter or repairing issues onboard, I focus on taking care of the large amount of admin that comes with running a vessel of this type and working in a hotel chain of this repute. Although the resort has separate departments dealing with various areas, a yacht differs in many aspects and a lot of my time is taken up with specialized orders, marketing, finance, projects and the crew. Throughout the day I am always checking my email whenever I get a spare moment. Mostly writing to inform potential guests, Hosts and agents of all the exciting options available onboard Soneva in Aqua, or tailoring trips based on a guest’s specific requests.

Over dinner I am often asked to host various Familiarization trips (tourism affiliated agents), or influencers that come to the resort, especially if they have any type of yachting background.

The perfect end to my day

I am very fortunate to have my family living with me on the island. I have the cutest little blonde haired 2-year-old (I might be a little biased). He hates wearing shoes and loves the ocean. The highlight of my day, if I’m not on charter, is taking him for a sunset swim – the perfect way to finish my day.

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