Kim Nethercott and Steve Cridland are looking to bring a new type of boating experience to Lake Oswego.
The two nautical aficionados met several years ago while docking their boats at the Waverly Marina in Southeast Portland. After finding they both had an affinity for waterborne adventures, they toyed with the idea of starting their own charter company.
"I wasn't really happy in my previous career, and my husband Tony told me, 'Just find something that makes you happy.' And for me, that's being out on the water," Nethercott says.
After months of preparation, planning and perfecting their brand, Cridland and Nethercott launched yNaut Charters with the hope of offering a high-end charter experience at an affordable rate that the pair are billing as "Your friends with a big boat."
"Oftentimes you find yourself standing on the shore thinking, 'I wonder who's on that big boat? I'd love to get on a big boat.' Well, you can," Cridland says.
The idea behind yNaut Charters is simple: Nethercott and Cridland take all the worrying and planning out of chartering a boat and leave all the relaxation and fun to customers. The pair are building a consortium of boat owners and captains and connecting them to people who are looking for an evening on the water or even an overnight trip.
Currently, yNaut Charters is offering cruises on its flagship vessel, a 43-foot Gulfstar Mark II Trawler named True North that's owned by Cridland himself. The boat is an exquisite piece of nautical engineering that feels elegant, yet not so fancy that you feel uncomfortable while aboard.
"We just want people to get on the water and have a good time, whether it's an all-day cruise on a 60-foot yacht or just a 30-foot boat where you anchor and just lounge in an innertube," says Nethercott, who grew up boating on the Mississippi River and, like Cridland, holds an inland captain's license from the U.S. Coast Guard.
"Being on the water," Cridland says, "it's the same spirit that flows through your soul no matter what kind of vessel you're on."
At this point, yNaut is picking up passengers from the South Breakwater Dock near the Riverplace Marina in Portland, although Nethercott says she's trying to get a docking permit in Lake Oswego. Services include a basic two-hour excursion for six people starting at $699, or $145 per person with a four-person minimum.
Two-hour cruises are offered Thursdays and Saturdays from noon-2 p.m. or during "happy hour" from 3-5 p.m. Sunset cruises are also available Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30-9:30 p.m. If passengers choose to extend their cruise, a prorated charge is applied per hour.
Complimentary light hors d'oeuvres and non-alcoholic beverages are provided. Alcohol is welcome, but must be furnished by the passengers themselves due to state liquor laws. Nethercott says she takes requests — for example, if a group is the "wine and cheese" type or prefers "beer and pretzels" instead, she can tailor the appetizers to compliment whatever alcohol they bring.
Nethercott has also created partnerships with a few local catering companies to provide a more high-end experience for customers, and she's built business relationships with bed-and-breakfast establishments to combine cruises with overnight stays on land.
She says she plans to expand the list of destinations as the company builds up its consortium of boat owners and offerings. In the future, overnight cruises could take guests as far as Hood River, for example, for a weekend of wine tasting and windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge.
For Nethercott, yNaut Charters is a chance to share her passion for boating with as many people as she can. She believes the joy of being on the water is one that can be enjoyed ubiquitously.
"Everybody can sit on a boat, enjoy the view and a cool beverage," she says. "We can do themed parties, bachelorette and bachelor parties, white-linen fancy, really anything. It's all about what you want."
Cridland says this summer has been a soft opening-of-sorts for yNaut Charters, with its first cruise taking place in June and a few others running throughout July. The company is using this year as a proving ground, he says, to ensure it's providing the most comfortable and positive experience possible on the Willamette River.
"We want people to have a great time out on the water and to be excited to come back," Cridland says. "The more you're on a boat, the more you learn. I've been doing this since I was a kid, and fairly steadily since the 1980s, but there's always something to improve upon."
For more information on charters or to book a cruise, visit http://www.ynautcharters.com or call 503-502-2702.