Most of us are nearing the end of their high school years and don’t really know “what will happen when they finish”. Of course, many people find the higher education institution they think is right for them and then either graduate or choose a completely different school and profession. Rarely but there are exceptions. They are those who have lived for their dreams since childhood, and started to work for it before they graduate. Erik Kremán, the managing director of the Hungarian Sea Yacht, is certainly one of the youngest owners of the Hungarian fleet. The young skipper is the exception to the rule.
To my first question, when can one start sailing, he laughs out loud. “When a person is already aware of his actions, so at the age of 5 or 6 I think. Of course under the supervision of a parent or other experienced sailor.” - starts Erik, who obtained his boat driver's license at the age of 17, and then in 2015, at the age of just 20, he decided to get into the sailing business. He claims the original plan was definitely not a charter company. “I simply wanted to minimize the maintenance costs of my first boat, so I decided to rent it out. Even though it was already mid-summer at the time, and the website was only completed by the end of July, a lot of people rented it out, so I went a little further.”
Last year the company had 4 boats, and by 2020 the business meant 6, but he does not plan to bring more than 8 sailboats into the fleet. He believes that beyond a certain point, control is lost and the hitherto well-functioning balance system can easily tip over. At the moment, he still does everything in one person, although he often gets into trouble with booking management and overnight administrative tasks. “If I have to, I add a skipper to the boat because I don’t like to do that part anymore. I’m too introverted to tell my life five times a week or entertain sailing guests with good stories. Instead, I take care of almost everything. I graduated as an engineer from the university, so from the service of the ships, through the maintenance, to the bookings, all the threads come together at my place. However, I have to hire someone sooner or later for the administration, which I usually have time for at night.” he says.
Sailboat rental works in the same way as booking a room. Guests appreciate and recommend each other to their kind and reliable accommodation, in this case yacht landlords. The rental is always a matter of trust, so the owners are happy for returning guests. In the case of the Hungarian Sea Yacht, almost all tenants come back, no wonder the calendar fills up soon with lovers of Lake Balaton and the summer dates fill up by the end of spring.
And on what depend the success of a charter company? According to Erik, often only human factors such as quick problem solving, helpfulness and, of course, the condition and cleanliness of ships are not negligible issues. Many guests have already come to me in frustration that they have managed to rent a dirty, “problematic” boat from here and there, of course for little money. This cannot happen to me, the ships will be in perfect condition by those who put their vote on me.” - adds the young company manager.
Slowly, my interview time is running out, Erik offers to take over the rudder and navigate the boat back to the port nicely. Terms I’ve never heard before fly, and I realize that sailing is a much more complex task than it seems at first glance.
“A boat driver’s license can be obtained in two weekends, but it’s just a paper that’s worth nothing without practice. Who can sail does not boast it. One respects the water, the wind, the natural environment, and exercises as much as its time and energy allow. One does not know will just talk about it and fail the exam when he leaves the first port.”
We park the boat in the harbour, looking at my watch I don’t want to believe my eyes. Time passed, we were on the water for more than 2 hours. When I get home, I see that the contour of my t-shirt has hit my “sun-smelling” shoulders, as if I had just returned to Budapest from a quick holiday. I remember Erik's words and I smile. “As a child, we went with my parents many times towards the end of summer, on vacation in August. At that time, I lay outside at night and hunted for shooting stars. Every time I saw one, I wished I had a ship one day. That seems to have worked.”
Yes, years spent with a lot of work and faith with the combination of shooting stars really worked for Erik.