Nigel Prescott puts LadyBoats fleet on the market
After more than 60 years as a tourism ambassador on Bermuda’s waters, Nigel Prescott of the boat charter company, Tam-Marina, is calling it quits.
He is a victim of the closure of the Fairmont Southampton — his business was built on group tours generated by the island’s largest hotel.
“It will be sometime before that hotel and that business comes back. That means it is time for me to walk away. I’d been waiting to hear when they would redevelop and reopen,” he observed.
“In the meantime, pending a sale, insurance groups and other executive groups will be the business we will continue to concentrate on.”
However, at 81, his retirement means the sale of Tam-Marina’s LadyBoats, three premier sailing vessels including Lady Tamara.
The 110-foot company stalwart began life as an oil rig crewboat, before she changed hands and eventually ended up in Bermuda with the local company.
After massive refitting and renovations overseen by Mr Prescott, it was put back on the water as an upscale tour boat, arriving on the island after dodging Hurricane Emily that pummelled the island in 1987.
“It was a crew of four Bermudians. It was a rough trip, but we weathered it, tied up and powered Miles Supermarket, because there was no electricity in Bermuda. Miles plugged into us. We kept their refrigeration running for about ten days.”
Mr Prescott was considered sometimes combative and often controversial but no one has ever argued his knowledge of boats, including their building and refitting, as a licensed pilot and engineer.
In fact, after he gained a commercial licence at 19, he was only 26 when he and Bermudian shipwright Tony Soares, built Bermuda’s first floating restaurant, which he ran for 11 years.
He was highly knowledgeable about Bermuda’s water tour business. His craft have ferried and entertained guests from two Royal Families, music legends such as Luther Vandross, and corporate titans, including Rupert Murdoch and Ross Perot.
The chairman of Toyota and senior executives from Ford, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and BMW are among those who have sailed on board.
He said there had been countless business deals struck on Lady Tamara that he was not allowed to talk about.
“It’s great for confidential meetings and we have done a lot of very important ones. We’ve had many high-powered corporate meetings, where people fly in from all over the world. There was one just a couple of weeks ago.
“They may stay at the Princess, but their meetings are held privately on the boat, sometimes for four or five hours at a time. I just move the boat along at one or two miles an hour.”
Lady Charlotte is a 1990 Cheoy Lee Cockpit 92-foot motor yacht, originally built for notable entertainer Jimmy Buffett.
The vessel is one of his personal entertainment yachts. Today it is has full amenities, including accommodations of four double berths and two singles. Before coming to Bermuda it was sold to, and named after, Charlotte Firestone, who also used it for personal excursions.
It has a cruising speed of 16 knots, a maximum speed of 22 knots and a range of 2,200 miles.
Mr Prescott says: “If you want to sail out and see the world, Charlotte is the boat for that. It has the best engines in the world, cast iron Caterpillar engines. It is a really high- end craft the way it is fitted out, unlike anything in Bermuda.
“You can go anywhere on it. That’s what Jimmy Buffett was doing. Charlotte from Firestone Tyres was cruising the Eastern Caribbean and Central America. That’s what the boat is really designed for.”
Lady Tamara, the crew boat conversion, is a larger entertainment yacht, which has also been used for dinner cruises, and has four king staterooms, en suite, and two crew quarters.
It was converted in 1987 and a new interior was fitted in 2016, including two full bars, bottle coolers, and a full service galley.
It has a top speed of 16 knots and a range of 4,400 miles.
The smallest vessel is the 46 foot sports fisher, Boss Lady, formerly owned by the Butler Steel Corporation.
Apart from fishing, it is also being used for sightseeing, lunch, dinner and cocktail cruises and small weddings.
Mr Prescott intends to remain in Bermuda to help buyers understand how to secure the boats in bad weather, or understand any other maritime issues.
So much of his personal time and expertise were involved in the redesigning and rebuilding of Lady Tamara and Lady Charlotte, it is understandable he would want to protect them, even under new ownership.
He said: “I am open to offers. I am ready to sell. I’d like to see the boats stay in Bermuda because they will be of great value once the hotel reopens. But I’ll be too old by that time.
“I’m still operating for now, still in business, but I think it is time for me to move on.”
The boats have fully serviced and licensed bars that Tam-Marina said allowed for casual cruising to utter luxury, and everything in between.