Mahurangi skipper sails luxury superyacht home

Mahurangi Matters will let readers know when the Aquijo is off our coast so keep an eye on our Facebook page (Mahurangi Matters) around September 26.

The world’s largest high-performance ketch will arrive in Auckland later this month with Matakana’s own Luke Hoskins at the helm.

The former Mahurangi College student is currently on a world circumnavigation on board the superyacht Aquijo in his first commission as captain.

The 39-year-old is understandably proud of the achievement, but says the icing on the cake will be sailing such a world-class boat through the Hauraki Gulf.

He even plans to “honk the horn” off Leigh when he picks up a couple of sail maintenance experts from North Sail.

“When we get to Auckland we’ll tie up at Orams Shipyard, in Beaumont Street, for two months, for maintenance,” he says.

The 86-metre Aquijo is a Tripp-designed boat built in the Netherlands and launched in 2016. She has a high-tensile steel hull and aluminium superstructure, an 11.6-metre keel and two carbon fibre masts that sit 91 metres above the waterline.

Her range under engine at 13 knots is 3200 nautical miles and she has accommodation for 30 – 13 guests and 17 crew including two chefs.

Luke respects the owner’s privacy and is reluctant to say more than they are “a lovely German family” who will join the boat at Christmas for a cruise around New Zealand.

Rounding Cape Horn involved navigating through strong winds and large waves, not to mention an iceberg or two.

The current world tour started in the Mediterranean last November and will end there in 2020 when the boat returns for its five-year survey.

“We’ve visited some exotic places so far; it’s been pretty awesome. The family joins us every few months and, in between, we sail the boat between destinations and attend to maintenance.”

The longest stretch at sea so far was 14 days, or 4200 nautical miles, across the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Uruguay.

But it was Patagonia that captured Luke’s heart.

“I had no comprehension of how beautiful that country was – the mountains, glaciers, icebergs, wildlife and history are awesome,” he says. “We spent a couple of months cruising through the area and sailed around Cape Horn, which was pretty special, too.

“On the way north, off Chile, we stopped at Robinson Crusoe Island, the actual island that the sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned on, whose story inspired the book.

“It was then on to Panama, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands and Tahiti.”

Luke says he loves the opportunity to travel and see amazing countries, but sometimes something as simple as being at sea, miles from any light pollution, and seeing the night sky ablaze with stars is equally stunning.

“I just try not to take anything for granted.”

As romantic as it might all seem, the job is demanding and takes its toll on relationships with family and friends.

“Being onboard involves long hours without a lot of privacy. It is only the fact that I have been able, for a few years now, to work a two month on/two month off roster that has kept me here.”

Luke’s sailing history is almost a rags to riches story. After studying philosophy and English literature at Victoria University in Wellington, he did the Kiwi thing and packed his bags to travel overseas. On a return trip to visit his parents, Heron’s Flight owners Mary Evans and David Hoskins, he waited tables at Pizza Construction in Snells Beach and overheard a customer talking about working on superyachts.

He went online, found a boat in Mexico looking for crew, applied and was told that if he could get himself to Port Vallarta in a week, he’d have a job. That was in 2002. He bought a one-way ticket and has never looked back.

After NZ, the Aquijo will head for Japan.

As for Luke, he says he would love to stay on the Aquijo for at least another 10 years.

“Particularly because it allows me to return to NZ for six months a year. There’s no place like home.”