The plump fella pictured centre is a sample of the ocean-fresh crustaceans destined to provide succulent crab meat in a superb beach picnic of oysters, king prawns, sashimi of kingfish, tuna and salmon and – what else? – caviar and bubbles, of course. Prefer something different or simpler? Your wish is the command of the attentive can’t-do-enough crew of Sydney Harbour Boat Tours, conveying sightseers on the fabulous Finnish ‘Spectre’, a sleek new 37ft open-top sports cruiser, out into the protected harbour waters and across to a secluded sandy cove, set down on shore to enjoy posh nosh and glorious views back towards the Bridge and city skyline. Heaven!
And so here am I, billionaire for a day, with three companions. We embark conveniently from the boardwalk right outside Darling Harbour’s cityside restaurant strip with skippers Elodie and Adam settling us into the luxury of the 10-seater (not much change from a half a million bucks I believe) that, with its “touch of Italian Riviera” style, won European Sports Boat of the Year. Naturally it’s beautifully equipped, easy and safe to move around, with wide white leather seating, pristine grey-white stripe decks and ample shade as well as a comfy stretched lounge for sunbathing and relaxing on the bow. (Appointments below decks include a private, efficient flushing loo: perfect!) Put this one in your little black book and when visitors or friends ask for suggestions for the ideal Sydney Harbour experience; they’ll thank you. BridgeClimb, Opera House, Taronga: I’ve visited the icons many times. For me, this one’s the best. The name is easy to remember and the tour website has videos and photos for an excellent idea of what you can expect, and choose. If the standard tours don’t suit, ask for a tailored experience. Or cruise first and once back at the mooring dine ashore, at nearby Cirrus perhaps. Celebrating an anniversary, birthday or proposing? This must be the ultimate, romantic, value-for-money way to go.
We enjoy the crew’s informed, bespoke commentary as we cruise close to sunbathing seals, romp alongside frisky young dolphins off Balmoral, pass by an intimate secret beach I recall from the past (memories!); on request we run like racers in an exhilarating burst of speed. This fairly new offering is the only elite Sydney Harbour cruise tour and, so, unique. It’s owned by wealthy Point Piper digital media entrepreneur Mark Dalgleish (an investment he reportedly sold two years back was a Finger Wharf apartment neighbouring the $15m homes of Russell Crowe and John Laws.) This, not to be indelicate but to indicate that Dalgleish – a true gentleman, humble and a genial host – is au fait with, and catering to, the good life; he’s spent many years sailing, diving and surfing in Sydney and around the globe. It’s a family business with French-born wife Sophie and daughters Elodie, 24, who’s lived and studied in France, and Margaux, 21 (a former Kambala head prefect, I note: impressive.) The company operates two boats depending on passenger numbers, helmed by Mark and Elodie, fully commercially licensed, and Adam O’Neill, a former Cote d’Azur superyacht skipper in the Mediterranean.