Voyages to the edge

In voyages totalling 60,000 nautical miles in just under 3 years since delivery, Captain Mike Rouse and the crew of LA FAMILIA have already seen a lot of the world. In early 2018 they took the owner and guests somewhere a bit different: ‘The Bird’s Head Peninsula’ in Indonesia’s West Papua province. The region has some of the world’s best dive sites and is home to fascinating cultures little changed since the Stone Age. “There is nowhere else like it,” says Mike. “It’s a huge area, you could spend a couple of seasons exploring here.”

Captain Mike Rouse, who was the build captain of LA FAMILIA before delivery in 2015, has since taken the Amels 180 twice around the world.

“We had great confidence in the yacht, even though you know you’re stretching the scope of what the yacht is designed for. You’re right on the cusp of everything. It’s a testament to the quality of Amels engineering.”

– Captain –

Mike Rouse

West Papua’s Raja Ampat marine park, in the ‘Coral Triangle’, is a major draw for divers. Uncrowded sites boast the greatest diversity of marine fish life found anywhere on the planet. The region offers everything from safe reef snorkelling to advanced diving, including night, cave, wall and drift diving.

Enter into Raja Ampat’s seascape of distinctive ‘beehive’ limestone islands covered in emerald green foliage and wild orchids, rising sharply out of rich blue lagoons. There are thousands of islands, atolls, shoals and coral reefs dotted over the 40,000 square-kilometre marine protected area.

“It’s massively uncharted,” Mike says. “Buoys are missing, there are shifting sandbanks. At lot of the time we were running tenders ahead to check things.”

“In terms of planning and creating the luxury superyacht experience in a place like this, the logistics are massive. But with the right planning, it’s doable. The Lighthouse Consultancy took care of a vast percentage of the planning, provisioning and paperwork for us. We had Garry Bevan for the entire trip as a guide as well as Bruce Carpenter, who is a really knowledgeable art historian and anthropologist.”

LA FAMILIA headed up the Timiki River, where Mike says nobody had ever seen a yacht before. Farther upriver, saltwater crocodiles slipped silently into the water as war canoes paddled out of the lowland estuaries. This is the Asmat tribe – historically known as headhunters and producers of fabulous ethnic art and ornate bow and arrows.

Flying from the yacht, the owners and guests headed 150 miles up into the Papuan central highlands to the lush Baliem Valley, landing on makeshift log helipads in a hidden Shangri-La first discovered less than a hundred years ago, and home to the Dani tribe for thousands of years.

“It’s spectacular, the yacht surfing into the river delta, then flying into the highlands with 10 guests and two helicopters. You couldn’t do this without helicopters. There are very few aircraft available in the region, particularly new and wellmaintained helicopters, so you have to plan well.”