Timely with the end of Newport Boat Show Weekend, I bring you: Sue Gearan. Sue is a professional Yacht Charter Broker and Travel Concierge, who plans weeklong vacation charters worldwide as well as day charters and other travel needs for clients locally and beyond. Sue and I met on a stunning motor yacht, Gravitas, which she has sold several charters on this summer (for more information about Gravitas, you can contact Sue with any questions).
Might I also add, Sue is the only ‘Boss Lady’ that came with an entourage and full hair and makeup. Let’s talk about it; she is all about presentation.
Q: When people charter, are you their on-call concierge and liaison for the entire duration of their excursion?
A: “Always, we are on it pretty much 24/7 – whatever it takes.”
Q: I have read a lot about how you have gotten into the industry, but my question is, what keeps you in the industry?
A: “It is definitely my passion for the yachting industry and the marine industry in general. I stay in it to keep people on the water pretty much in any aspect: chartering, crew placement, etc. I am pretty willing to help anyone. If someone needs my help, I am always willing to assist and give advice.”
That is how you know that this truly is your passion.
“That’s true. Chartering is magical; it is a life changer. It gets people away from their reality.”
Q: Do you remember that pivotal shift, or catalyst when you knew that you felt this strongly about the industry?
A: “I’d say I’ve always loved the sea since visiting Maine as a kid, but once I started sailing in my teens I just fell in love. By my 20’s I was crewing part time and brokering – selling clients events on the water and dream vacations. I really believed in what I was selling so I guess that was the big shift. I also had a Meyers-Briggs test back, and my job coach said I was basically doing the perfect job. But in my 30’s I wanted a little more adventure, so I hopped on board boats and used yachting as my vehicle to travel the world.”
Still, to this day, it is all about lifestyle for me. I want to make a good living, but I want to have a great lifestyle and see the whole world whether it is by yacht, backpack, train, whatever.”
A huge portion of the money Sue has made in her career has been dedicated to travel.
Q: Where is your favorite place that you have traveled? By way of boat or otherwise.
A: “On a boat, probably Cuba. We spent a month there which was pretty incredible. Overall, India, because it was eye opening and it was such a great experience to see what other people are going through in the world and how we are so fortunate. I think people really need to travel more to realize how incredibly lucky we are here in the United States. We need to open ourselves up and realize that we are all the same.”
I told Sue that she seems to break the mold of what most may think a Yacht Broker may be like. Which, to me, was comforting and also quite interesting.
“I strive to give back – this is extremely important to me. At times I struggle with the huge amount of wealth that surrounds the industry but I also believe that a lot of happiness comes from what we sell. The typical feedback from clients is that it’s the best experience they’ve ever had. As long as people in the yachting community are taking care of the oceans and giving back in every way they can, then I’m ok with that. What I really want is the owners of these mega yachts to be aware of the things they can do to help. There are lots of organizations that provide services to the islands and countries visited by boats.”
Q: Is there one organization that you stand behind?
A: “Currently I work with a group called Can-Do.org which is disaster relief organization. Before that, I had started my own non-profit called Pencils for Haiti where we raised money to donate food and school supplies to local kids. About 12 years ago I ended up there on a private sailboat after a bad storm and I ended up meeting the mayor of the village – he and I are still connected to this day and even though I am not formally running that non-profit anymore I still donate to their cause.”
Q: A lot of your career is weather dependent, so if you do not take care of things that affect those patterns (i.e. the ocean) then your career will cease to exist, and your passion can’t be exercised. Are there any other organizations that are more geared towards people that own yachts?
A: “There is one called YachtAid Global, where mega yachts can deliver supplies to places they are visiting with their owners and charter guests. All they really have to do is move the supplies from point A to point B. The organization actually organized the supplies that are brought, so it’s a win, win and really a no brainer. I just think keeping people aware is very important. When I worked on a yacht, if I were offered a tip I would decline and ask if they would instead donate to my charity.”
I tell Sue that her perspective is super refreshing, we discuss the diversity of Newport.
Q: What do you love most about working in the Newport, in general?
A: “What I love about Newport is that I don’t feel a huge divide. I actually see a lot diversity here which I think comes from it being so international. I think everyone works really well together, there are so many cultures here especially around the yachting community.”
Sue speaks highly of her business partner and longtime friend Carol Kent, who owns the charter brokerage she works with. Two women with the same goal of strengthening their industry and giving back. Sue continues to keep her sights high and is looking into the future. She invests a serious amount of time with clients setting them up with the perfect crew and yacht sending them to their dream destination. With crew placement, she tries to get to know people well so they can find their ideal yacht to work on. She’s a true match maker!
Q: What is next?
A: “We are gearing to sell charters for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda this coming May & June then after that working with Volvo Ocean Race again in Newport.”
I look forward to seeing what Sue Gearan creates next, whether it is in the yachting industry or beyond. She is a philanthropist as much as she is a business woman and a lover of all things travel. She is as authentic is they come. Cheers, Sue! All Aboard.