Capt. Ferdinando Tarquini of the recently refitted 232-foot expedition yacht Force Blue has accomplished a rare feat — celebrating 17 years working on the same boat. It's nearly the same lifespan of the yacht herself, which was delivered in 2002 by Royal Denship. Most recently, he helped guide her transformation at the Lusben shipyard, which include a 23-foot stern extension, updated interiors, and added performance.
Capt. Tarquini hails from Tuscany, close to Viareggio. He grew up with this yachting hub on his doorstep and says he had many role models over the years who inspired his interest in boats, including his grandfather, who was a fisherman. But it was his mother who encouraged him to make yachting a career. "My mother said, 'Try nautical school and see what happens.'" From the age of 13 to 18, he attended a nautical school program that taught skills such as navigation. After this education, Tarquini joined the merchant navy, which gave him a wealth of seafaring experience. "I've been in every sea, from the North Sea to the Strait of Malacca," he says.
He made the transition to luxury yachting, serving as a captain of a Wally yacht for five years, then joined Force Blue as chief officer in 2005 and was promoted to captain in 2006. Tarquini's long experience on Force Blue was integral to shaping the refit. "When the new owner bought the yacht, he said, 'You've been the captain for 16 years, you tell me what should be changed,"' says Tarquini. One of his suggestions was to extend the yacht's stern platform so it wraps around on either side, providing room for her two new tenders to tie up while leaving the aft entirely open for guests to sunbathe or slip into the sea for a swim.
Prior to the refit, Force Blue had a flat stern. Now, there is a cascade of stairs that lead down the massive swim platform. When shaded with umbrellas and scattered with seating, it is now a fabulous al fresco beach club. The main deck aft also benefited from the stern extension. Tarquini says it felt rather cramped before. Now, with two large L-shaped settees and plenty of floorspace, the new aft deck is an area worthy of greeting guests before they enter the main salon.
All the guest cabins and their en suites have been redesigned to create a more contemporary and fresher feel. The interior is adorned in mahogany, striped wallpaper, and Carrara marble. The layout of the lower deck VlP cabin — which is nearly as big as the master suite, making her an ideal choice for dual charterers — was reconfigured, with the centerline bed moved to port, and a partial dividing wall created to offset the bedroom from a lounge area with a sofa that can convert to a bed. "So it can be two kids [in the bed] and a nanny in the lounge, or a couple and their child," says Tarquini. One part of the boatthat didn't need changing is the palatial spa, which is a favorite area of the guests, says the captain, calling the Chenot-inspired spa the "pearl of the yacht."
The captain also suggested new stabilizers and updating the AN equipment and Wi-Fi, to name a few more technical items. There was a concern that the new swim platform and stern shape would impede the yacht's performance, the captain says. "But actually, it improved performance! We gained at least a knot of speed."
Of course, the underpinnings of a true charter superstar are all the ways that a yacht, and her crew, can go the extra mile. "She has incredible volumes and amenities — the huge spa, gym, list of toys, cinema, disco, elevator ... " says Daniela De Marco, Fraser's head of charter management Europe, which reps Force Blue for charter. Force Blue is kitted out with its own DJ booth, speakers, and all the lights needed for hosting an epic party, which she has done on many occasions, with guests numbering in the hundreds.
But no matter where in the world Tarquini roams, he will always take a bit of home with him. Quite literally, as his brother numbers among his crew, serving as chief engineer. Meanwhile, his other brother is a captain on a 50-meter yacht. I guess you could say it runs in the family.
This article originally ran in the December 2022 issue of Dockwalk.