Category: Interviews

Meet Bonita & Yoshi from Sailing Nandji

Sailing Nandji RELiON

While these digital nomads have been enjoying their newfound time on the water, they quickly grew tired of having to constantly monitor how much energy they had left in their lead-acid battery bank. They wanted to feel as safe as possible when miles offshore as well as focus completely on relaxing and exploring. We recently spoke with Bonita and Yoshi about what it was like to make the switch to living off-grid full-time on their boat and why they transitioned to RELiON RB100 lithium batteries.

Did you have to substantially limit your energy use to transition to full-time off-grid yacht life?

Yoshi: “Before we installed our RELiON battery system, and when we were still relying on AGM batteries, we definitely had to limit our energy use. We thought that was normal since we downsized to living on a boat. However, since we’ve upgraded to more reliable, lightweight and long-lasting RELiON lithium batteries, we’ve been able to power a second fridge, which means we can sail for longer periods of time. We also can now safely sail at night knowing we can send and receive radio signals. This was always questionable with our AGM batteries, as we were having to constantly sacrifice powering one device in order to power another device. With RELiON batteries, the sky’s the limit, as they charge in half the time and can be discharged much more deeply, which results in far more usable energy every day.”

Bonita and Yoshi’s yacht is now powered by three robust, energy-dense RELiON RB100 lithium batteries, 540 watts of Solbian flexible solar panels, 340 watts of rigid solar panels, a 600 watt Victron Energy inverter, and three Victron Energy MPPT Smart Solar charge controllers. They’re also planning to install the new Victron Energy CerboGX smart touch screen display for ease of monitoring the entire solar-plus-storage system. This energy system powers two refrigerators, lighting, fans and navigation as well as all of Bonita and Yoshi’s work equipment, including two laptops, cameras and drones.

Why did you switch from lead-acid batteries to RELiON solutions specifically?

Yoshi: “We needed to have more reliable power, as we’re 100% dependent on solar and the batteries when we’re in the middle of the ocean. Our lead-acid batteries were simply not handling the constant strain we would put on them daily and they eventually died after just eighteen months. We tried our best to take good care of the lead-acid batteries, but when there were cloudy days and we had to meet work deadlines on our laptops, the system would quickly drain just from charging our laptops. We’d then have to run our boat engine to charge the system, and I didn’t like doing this, both because of the fumes from our diesel engine and the unnecessary wear and tear on our engine. Thanks to RELiON batteries, we finally feel safe and secure knowing we have power, and thereby navigation and the ability to work, at all hours – day or night.”

What would you tell a friend interested in living off-grid on a yacht?

Yoshi: “The second most important factor to consider, other than your sails, are your batteries. If you choose RELiON lithium batteries, I guarantee your life will change for the better and that you won’t regret it. We’re ecstatic with how much more power we now have. Since installing the new RELiON battery system, we don’t have to pay attention to the amount of power we use, as we have peace of mind knowing that there is always enough power to meet our needs. We’ve learned that lithium batteries are actually more cost-effective in the long run because they last so much longer and require far fewer replacements.”

After successfully dropping in RELiON RB100 lithium batteries to replace their lead-acid battery bank, Yoshi and Bonita have been able to sail over 10,000 nautical miles offshore and visit eight different countries by sea. Thanks to their reliable and long-lasting RELiON energy storage system and solar power, they now have the confidence to embark on their longest journey yet – sailing to Africa by crossing the Indian Ocean. Follow along with their sailing adventures on YouTube.

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International Women’s Day 2020 – just some of the inspirational women on the Asian yachting scene!

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we caught up with some of Asia’s leading female yachting industry figures. They shared their personal experiences about how they got into the industry and why they are so passionate about it.


Tell us a little about what you do.

I take care of all Ferretti Group APAC communication for what concerns the Asia Pacific region. This includes events and boat shows, press, advertisements and new digital. In other words, when you see a full Ferretti Group fleet at a boat show and you admire its beauty, well, behind it, there are months of hard work the team and I have done to make that happen.

What are the best aspects of your job?

What I love about my job is that we create beauty around something which is already beautiful. We work with the most beautiful artefacts in the world and we create the magic around them. Take the annual Ferretti Private Preview in Monaco for example! I mean, it is quite rare, if not unique, to see so many stunning yachts gathering at the Yacht Club de Monaco during a private concert of Elton John or Sting.


Then, the travelling part. This job gives me the chance of travelling everywhere in Asia and possibly creating something beautiful somewhere else too.

Finally, there is the achievement behind each event and boat show. No matter how much you have struggled, you will end up being happy and a bit sad that it is over on the last day of the boat show or event.

Are there any challenges of being in the yachting industry in Asia?

Definitely. Do not forget that Asia just recently started to appreciate the nautical lifestyle related to yachting. Therefore, all the process of establishing the product feeling, trust, the brand image, and the actual moment when you are able to sell a yacht is much longer. It is much more challenging.

What is your favourite yachting memory?

First of all, I have a deep relationship with the sea as I am a sailor myself. I have been sailing and teaching sailing to people for years when I was younger and before moving to Hong Kong. However, opposite to what everyone thinks, working in the yachting industry does not mean that you can spend all day on a yacht!

The best yachting memory was during a press trip at the Riva shipyard in Sarnico, during a sea trial on the lake on board the iconic Riva Iseo. I thought that everything was magic during that moment and I felt really peaceful. The boat was simply stunning and I felt so proud she was created by the Italian genius, Carlo Riva.

How do you see the role of women in the yachting industry evolving over the next 5-10 years?

We already have amazing women working at Ferretti Group and hopefully more can become key players in this industry that was used to be led by men.


Tell us a little about what you do.

I am currently the senior yacht broker at Hong Seh Marine Singapore. We sell Italian yachts such as Ferretti, Pershing and Riva. We complement this range by also selling the American fishing/lifestyle boat, Boston Whaler.

My role is to work with boat owners to manage their boat, assist in selling their boat and hopefully helping them to buy a new or used boat. My involvement in the yachting industry began 15 years ago when I was helping out at a family friend’s business during my school vacation.

What drew you to the yachting industry?

I absolutely love the sea and the outdoor lifestyle, not having a typical desk-bound job wins it every time and I still love turning up at the marina every day.

I remember having to introduce a yacht in Mandarin in my early years. It gave me a challenge ever since to better myself with the terminology and to break into new markets that were rising.

What is it about the yachting industry in Asia that you are passionate about?

It is a continuously evolving industry that I feel I’m always learning from. The marine development around the SEA region is phenomenal. I love hearing about a new island destination or a place I haven’t been to and working out when I’m going!

Any advice for women looking to get into the industry?

Take the opportunity to be part of the boating community. 10 years ago in Asia, there were only a handful of ladies in the yachting industry, but there is a visible growth of women leading the waves today. I encourage more ladies to take chances and make a career out of something they enjoy!

What is your current favourite yacht and why?

I have to say my current boat (Boston Whaler 320 Vantage) is amazing, I travel all around the region on her. She’s the second Boston Whaler I’ve owned and I just love their reliability. My goal though is to get a Rivamare. That’s when I know I’ve made it.


Tell us a little about what you do.

I work at Simpson Marine as Group Marketing Manager, also involved in Strategic Partnerships. We are a team of 4 who manage Communication, Marketing, Events for the whole group: 12 offices in 7 countries in Asia. As you can imagine, we keep ourselves pretty busy!

What drew you to the yachting industry?

I was recruited fresh out of university by my first employer, Sunreef Yachts, as they were actively looking for someone who could speak a few foreign languages to take care of Media & Communications as the company had international expansion in view for the future. I was just finishing my Master’s degree in Romance Languages, and other linguistic courses in Gdansk, Poland, where Sunreef is based.

I learned everything from scratch, travelled the world, met fascinating people, and here I am, still around and loving it almost 13 years later, currently based in Hong Kong at the Simpson Marine’s Headquarters.

What is it about the yachting industry in Asia that you are passionate about?

I love the energy of the industry in Asia, it’s one of a kind. People here want to do something, they want to see action. They see the region’s incredible potential and it’s a rewarding environment to work in.

On one hand, the industry is still in its infancy and hence, a lot of things need to happen for us to see its full potential and we have all been working towards more yachting friendly regulations and logistics on our level. There is a palpable evolution happening with local trade and tourist institutions increasingly keen to push the industry and help it develop, creating huge business opportunities for their respective countries.

It is also a very creative and fast-paced environment and I enjoy seeing many boating initiatives, such as the new ways we can engage with our customers and providing them with the opportunity to experience this unique lifestyle. Our team is more encouraged to explore alternative Marketing and CRM initiatives than our peers in Europe, in their established and less challenging sales environment.

And finally, Asia is a superb cruising destination and our activations happen in the most scenic areas that people are dreaming to explore. Phuket and Phang Nga Bay, Bali and Komodo, Raja Ampat, The Anambas, Langkawi, Palawan, Busuanga, Sanya, Hong Kong’s amazing country parks, Shanghai, Singapore… aren’t we lucky here?

Any advice for women looking to get into the yachting industry?

Yachting seems to be a very male-dominated industry, and it is. So be prepared for some stereotyped behaviours, as they happen everywhere. And better do your homework with some basic boating knowledge! Other than that, I personally think that women are just as capable as men to work in any kind of job within the industry. And I would love to see more women around. We are lucky to have here in Asia many friendly and professional female and male colleagues. Personally, I always look for merit and experience as first my priority.

What is your current favourite yacht and why? 

It’s a difficult question to answer as we sell so many kinds of yachts at Simpson Marine and I had a chance to visit and experience many of them over time.

I would mention a few yachts that made a major impression on me and these would include the Sanlorenzo SD96 for her amazing and carefully crafted interiors by Patricia Urquiola and impressive volumes at 96ft, the Lagoon Seventy 7 for her truly amazing volumes and the master suite’s opening balcony and one of the new Beneteau Oceanis line with 46.1 or 51.1, which are both great at fast and smooth sailing, with tastefully finished interior design and detailing.

But if I could choose a boat for my own family cruising, that would be one of the new Lagoons, perhaps the 46, which I would love to take sailing around the amazing archipelago of Indonesia, and then further afield.


Tell us a little about what you do.

I joined Boat Lagoon Yachting in 2016 as Group Marketing Manager overseeing all marketing aspects in our region – Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Maldives.

What are the best aspects of your job?

I am fortunate to have worked for top luxury brands in jewellery, furniture, champagne, cosmetics, and now luxury yachts including Princess, Burgess, Sacs and Jeanneau. What fascinates me is the learning and understanding of the philosophy and DNA of luxury brands; product design and performance; customer care and after-sales service, basically what makes these brands stand out in their category. At Boat Lagoon Yachting, our credo is “Like no other” – we are dedicated to delivering our clients unparalleled products and service like no other. I really enjoy being part of the team that delivers that.

Are there any challenges of being in the yachting industry in Asia?

Frankly, I see more opportunities than challenges of being in the yachting industry in Asia. When our company started 26 years ago, 90% of our clients were Europeans. Today, we see our clients being mainly Asians, from Singapore, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. It’s obvious that yachting is becoming a more recognised lifestyle in Asia, and why not – sailing and being by the sea promotes a healthy state of mind, provides the perfect opportunity of either socialising and entertaining your guests, or enjoying the absolute privacy with your family and friends. While Asia accounts for a substantial percentage of UHNWIs, the Asian yachting market is still in its infancy and therefore, there is a tremendous growth opportunity to be explored. Our sales have grown 10-15% annually over the past ten years and we are expecting continuous growth moving forward.

What is your favourite yachting memory?

It has to be our Boat Lagoon Yachting Owners Rendezvous. It takes place at the beginning of every year. We arrange a weekend-long yacht event for our owners, their family and friends. Typically, it starts on a Friday evening as we welcome our guests and their yachts at a beachfront venue. Yachts rafting up, owners mingling and children enjoying the water toys and sports available, followed by a warm welcome speech from our Managing Director, Vrit Yongsakul, and a lively dinner party. The next day, all the yachts cruise in convoy to some beautiful islands such as Similan, Krabi, Lanta Lai, Racha Noi, for diving and snorkelling with private instructors, various watersports, onboard massages, sunset watching, barbecue on a private beach… our guests enjoy a beautiful day leisurely at their own choice. On Sunday, guests can choose to cruise back in convoy or stay longer and discover the surroundings on their own. This is what yachting is about – the luxury of freedom.

How do you see the role of women in the yachting industry evolving over the next 5-10 years?

I already see lots of successful women in this industry today. I hope and believe more and more outstanding career women will join this dynamic and fun-filled industry in the future.   

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Quick Quiz with Captain Jo from M/Y Ambrosia

Can you tell us a bit about your experience cruising in South East Asia?

I started towards the end of 2007 onboard Ambrosia in Singapore. The owners are from Hong Kong and have a true love of cruising, and a lot of experience in yachting. While I have spent in total about 8 years on several yachts in Asia, there are still a lot of incredible locations I still have yet to discover. During my time in Asia, I visited Singapore, Malaysia, the Maldives, Abu Dhabi (for the first boat show there), Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia (Raya Ampat) and Hong Kong.

Can you tell us about your favourite cruising destinations?

Asia has excellent diving locations particularly in the Philippines, Palau and Indonesia. Palau, I would have to say is my favourite for not only the diving but for the incredible tours that can be arranged. Also, don’t miss swimming in Jelly Fish Lake. If luxury shopping and top-level dining options are a priority for your guests, then absolutely Singapore or Hong Kong should be on the itinerary.

Any suggestions for new captains to the area?

While there are only a few locations in Asia with dedicated superyacht marinas, and in many places, you need to stay at anchor, the marina infrastructure is continually improving. And where you find dedicated superyacht marinas, you will find experienced companies and technicians to assist engine room issues and repairs on deck. For captains who are new to the area, I would suggest they plan the itinerary well in advance to ensure that they get all the necessary immigration formalities and paperwork submitted correctly and ahead of time.

Who are you going to call!?

Local agents are very experienced and provide a wide array of services in the area. In general, the local customs and immigrations officials are helpful, although navigating the paperwork and bureaucracy can take time. The local agents are very knowledgeable and know how to navigate the bureaucracy which makes the process a lot easier. Most of the time I was using Asia Pacific Superyachts.

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