Bristol superyacht rank: ship treated as ‘unwanted burden’, tycoon says



A superyacht charterer has revealed his new love for Bristol – but has criticized the city’s port for ‘hostility’.

Matias Rojas, who invests in plastic recycling technology and founded international oil trader Blue Oil, leases the Navigator, a Danish vessel which has been docked at Bristol Harborside since late August.

The 52-year-old was so impressed with the city – nicknamed it “England’s hidden gem” – that he wanted to keep the yacht in its berth near the Arnolfini Arts Center until the end of the year. ‘winter.

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He described the people of Bristol as “so nice” but said the navigator would be leaving the city next week due to the harbor master “going wild, indeed, demanding that we go on completely arbitrary days”, according to Mr. Rojas.

Bristol City Council says it is still in discussions about extending this mooring and has requested further information from the owner about the boat’s stay.

In an interview with Bristol LiveMr. Rojas spoke of feeling like an “unwanted burden on the city”. He said the port is “doing everything it shouldn’t be doing”, that its mooring costs are too low and why he thinks it would be good if Bristol was “on the map” for superyachts.

“When you get here, it’s like paradise”

The Navigator, near L’Arnolfini

Built in 1941, the Navigator is a 35m long steel vessel classified “worthy of conservation” by Denmark, where she was a cable ship and used for navy training before moving to the recreational world.

Mr. Rojas, born in Peru and based in Denmark, has been renting the vessel since November 2020. The businessman is the main investor in Circular Plastic Systems, a company that turns end-of-life plastics into virgin plastics.

The Navigator is listed online as costing 50,000 euros to charter for a week, although Mr Rojas says this has increased since the listing was published as superyachts are in “huge demand” as safe getaways against. Covid.

The ship had been in London for three months before arriving in Bristol. Mr. Rojas, whose children live in England, chose the city not because he knew its charms, but for convenience. For much of the Navigator’s time in Bristol, Mr Rojas has been overseas, using the ship as a base to see his children on weekends.

The choice of Bristol was almost ‘accidental’, he says, but ‘when you get here it’s like heaven – I’d much rather be here than London’.

Mr Rojas described Squeezed, at Wapping Wharf, as selling “one of the best burgers ever” and Pasture, at Redcliffe, as “a world class steakhouse, above any London steakhouse I have ever seen” .

“Almost all of the stores are independent,” he added. “The Clifton Suspension Bridge is just amazing. We The Curious was amazing for my children. I have a true love for Bristol. There are so many world class wonders that are… right there. To visit.”

Mr Rojas says Arnolfini and neighboring businesses warmed up at the Navigator, aided by his crew using a pressure washer to regularly remove broken glass and neighborhood trash.

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The businessman had started “building a community” in Bristol when he stayed with his girlfriend and two children on the Navigator, which has four guest rooms and six for the crew. Mr Rojas described it as “like running a small hotel”, inviting guests from London, Denmark, Spain and the United States.

When the Navigator arrived on August 27, its owner – a Danish company – understood that the agreement with the port was that the ship could stay until October 15. the harbor master’s office.

He claims the deputy harbor master warned towards the end of September that the Navigator would have to leave Bristol by October 9.

The earlier deadline would have caused problems for the crew, who had to “make sure the weather was right” and make repairs, says Rojas. The shipowner has included lawyers in the discussion, which Bristol City Council says is ongoing.

The board says the Navigator initially docked with a mooring fee paid until October 9, with no notice for engine repairs. Mr Rojas expects the ship to leave Bristol next week.

“Huge number of superyachts could visit Bristol”

Matias Rojas, charterer of The Navigator
Matias Rojas

“It was as if we were an unwanted burden on the city,” Rojas said. “I’m really annoyed that I couldn’t stay longer. If the harbor master’s office was hospitable, there would be a waiting list.

“When we go to Amsterdam, we get a ‘keys to the city’ sign when you stay two weeks. Having said that, the city is happy to see you. When the ship is in Copenhagen [its home port], it is put in front of the royal palace of Denmark, they are so proud of it.

“A huge number of superyachts could visit Bristol if they knew how wonderful the city is. If you had 100 visits per year it would really change the profile of public funds.

“I’m not a very fancy guy but some people can spend 50,000 to 100,000 euros in a week. They want it all. So it was very disorienting to find out that Bristol had a hostile harbor master.”

Mr Rojas added that Bristol is “not at all on the map” for superyachts. When he told friends he was staying in town he received “weird looks”. But he thinks Bristol would benefit from becoming a tourist destination for pleasure craft.

“If that’s what he wants, he’s doing everything he shouldn’t be doing,” he said. “The harbor master’s office went against all maritime precepts.

“I don’t subscribe to a lot of superyacht culture, but there’s no denying that if you get a bunch of these boats coming in it’s a lot of money, but not a lot of people. Not going to change the character of If you bring in 100 boats a year, you might have 500 people, but the impact of the expense is significant.

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Navigator's Wheelhouse
The Navigator’s wheelhouse

“I understand there are downsides, but I don’t think it would ruin the incredible spirit of independence you have here. If you want tourism without changing the character, this is a good way to do it . “

When the Navigator was moored in London the mooring costs were £ 300 per day, compared to £ 35 per day in Bristol. Mr Rojas believes many superyacht charterers would laugh if they knew how low it was. He says Bristol lacks huge potential income and “should start at £ 100”.

The businessman also believes that Bristol is losing the opportunity to make itself known among “visionaries and opinion leaders”. He gave the example of his intention to invite Danish director Fenar Ahmad to stay on The Navigator, which will not be possible as the ship does not winter in Bristol.

Asked about the environmental impact of the ship, which runs on diesel, Mr Rojas said: “I know of a ship the same size as Navigator that burns around 10 to 12 liters per nautical mile to move. Because Navigator has been built during the war and there were all kinds of fuel restrictions, it only burns about four liters per nautical mile. It’s incredibly economical, more economical than modern ships. “

He added: “Navigator is like the king on the chessboard. She rarely moves and she moves cautiously. She isn’t supposed to move a lot at this point in her life.”

Inside the browser

Navigator engine room
In the Navigator engine room

Even though Mr. Rojas was abroad at the time of our telephone interview, the shipowner’s staff were Bristol Live a tour of the ship. Its commissioner, who looks after salaries and administration, is Rosie Jones, a 33-year-old woman from Yeovil who has been working on the navigator for a year.

“People walking past us or drinking in the pub seem to like the ship to be here,” she said. “They say she is such a beautiful ship.”

Rosie finds life on the ship peaceful, whether moored or at sea. She says Mr. Rojas’ loving Labrador, Gran (Spanish for “big” or “big”), sleeps a lot when the ship travels, then uses the energy accumulated during three hour walks while on land.

At the bottom of the ship, below the main deck and guest rooms, is the engine room, with dials and knobs spread across a huge steel switchboard. The tubes come from a DC generator built in 1949 and a new AC generator.

A notice, written in Danish and entitled “Giv agt!”, Appears in several places. Chief Engineer Per Sorensen told us it means “Watch out! »And warns the sailors, tempted by a cigarette, that they could blow up the engine room.

Mr Sorensen, 70, said: “I enjoyed Bristol. There is a lot of life in it. I am amazed by all the people in the pubs who like to chat and have a drink. There is a lot of culture here. . “

Does the ship’s age mean it’s busy? “Even if it was brand new, we would find some mechanical issues – otherwise there would be no reason for me to be here,” he smiled. “But the ship is very stable.”

The ship, classified “worthy of conservation” in 2009 by the Danish Ships Preservation Trust, will then make a brief stopover in Amsterdam, before returning to Copenhagen. Mr Rojas plans to charter it at least until March next year, when his apartment is being renovated.

The board says it was informed by the owner of the Navigator after arriving in Bristol that the ship was due to be in a different location by October 23. The owner has informed that the vessel will depart before that date “with additional charges paid,” the board said.

“We remain in discussions on the extension of this mooring and have requested additional information from the owner on his stay and the nature of these repairs,” said a spokesperson for the council.

The Bristol Port Captain’s Office will perform due diligence to ensure that the vessel is “in full compliance with maritime law and is seaworthy prior to departure”. Responding to Mr Rojas’ comments on mooring fees, the board said these are reviewed annually.

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