THE skipper of the first super yacht to visit the Tyne, was on a welcome trip home when he sailed her through the piers at South Shields.
Captain Dale Smith studied as a marine engineer at South Shields College and returned to the river on Monday at the helm of Sovereign – one of the world’s most luxurious privately-owned vessels.
The £40m boat moored at the new NE1 Newcastle City Marina on Monday and Capt Smith, who is originally from Elswick, Newcastle, was brought up in Sunderland, is encouraging his employers to take a good look at the North East.
He said: “Although some of the sights have changed, I have been able to recommend my personal favourites such as the beaches at South Shields, Northumberland, and Newcastle city centre.
“Sailing Sovereign in to the Port of Tyne was wonderful. I have a great affection for the river, having studied at South Shields College. It’s very special to be spending a little time here to revisit my roots and see how much the river has changed.”
The 55m-long Sovereign is expected to leave the river at around 9am on Sunday but, while in port, its crew and passengers are exploring North East England.
Capt Smith added: “The North East has so much to offer and being able to berth right in the heart of Newcastle is an added bonus. I would like to think more yacht owners will take the opportunity to visit this wonderful region.”
The yacht is in the area as part of a trip around Scandinavia, Britain and the Baltics.
Adrian Waddell, director of operations at NE1 Ltd – which created the marina two years ago – said attracting yachts like Sovereign to Tyneside was exactly what he had hoped it would do.
He said: “We sincerely hope that this will be the first visit of many by Sovereign and that the crew will spread the world to other ‘yachties’ of the great Geordie welcome afforded to luxury yachts.
“When we built the NE1 Newcastle City Marina two years ago we hoped it would attract international visitors and yachts and vessels of all sizes.
“As the marina’s reputation grows, we are really looking forward to many more seasons to come and welcoming more super yachts and international visitors to the city.”