Kai Lawson

Must See | Yacht Week- Croatia

Kai Lawson
Must See | Yacht Week- Croatia

I did it. I traveled halfway across the globe to the exotic land of Croatia, with 10 of my friends to experience the exclusive luxury of yachting upon the Adriatic sea. We Island hopped to and from lands I still can not pronounce, all while enjoying the exclusivity of day parties, in huddles of boats and floaties. I was equipped with nothing more than a bathing suit and a bottle of my favorite liquor as I strutted in my classiest nautical chic ensembles to day and night parties in hidden forts where bottle service was the standard. I basically lived out my dream of re-making the famous Big Pimpin’ video. Bottles of champagne, bikinis, boys from Texas and all… I went to the worlds largest EDM festival and experienced something quite spectacular. Yet even with this absolutely amazing experience, It wouldn’t be #mylifeofkai if I didn't keep it 100% real with everyone. 

Soooo...Yes, It’s like living in the Big Pimpin’ video, but consider what it's like being on the other end of the camera. The production of a good time is much more strenuous that what you see on TRL (I think this is still a show). To say the least, It got real in these oceanic streets y’all. If you want the hype, and not the dream then proceed with caution.  

First things first, rest in peace Uncle Ben Franklin, because this shit is expensive. It’s like when I thought I was done spending money, all of a sudden I was reaching back into my purse for more. The best thing we did for this trip was plan ahead. So if you can plan a year ahead, I suggest you do that. Here’s some perspective: The Yacht itself was about $1,200 per person. The flight to Croatia, was another $1,200 per person. Then we had to pay for a costume for the Regatta day (more on this shit later), hostess to cook for us dinners, actual dinner nights out, bottle service, provisional fund, tips for the hostess and the skipper, ground transportation, Airbnbs, Travel money for souvenirs, drinks and just overall fucking life… Listen I say all this to say, if you’re not trying to come out of pocket about $4K, over the course of the planning and the actual trip, this is not the travel experience for you. Listen even the Big Pimpin’ video had a Million Dollar PLUS production budget, so if you ain’t got no money… you know what to do. 

Secondly, let me be real with you for a minute. I need you to understand that this is not your mother’s Carnival Cruise. This is not even a Spirit of New York, Philadelphia or wherever the hell you are from. The only thing luxurious about living on a yacht for 7 days are the instagram photos and the story you tell your friends. The actual experience, is more like camping, and there is not one person in the world who will ever be able to tell me differently. Trust ME! I’ve seen this first hand. Instead of log cabins, you have boat cabins. Instead of hikes in the woods you’re on open waters with no opportunity for escape for hours. In both instances you’re skipping showers, toilets are few far and in between, and you rely on Mother Nature to not be a complete asshole and burn your skin off or fingers crossed she keeps the ocean still enough so your boat doesn’t rock you right to sleep at the bottom of the ocean. You are constantly in close quarters with the people you’re assigned to bunk with whether you know them or not for DAYS! This means you will smell them, they can smell you, even the things you’d prefer people didn’t smell.  It’s rough. This is fine for me. I spent many of my summers camping in Rhode Island with my cousins. But, if you’ve ever said to yourself I hate camping, then I need you to understand, this trip is not for you. 

Let me continue my candidness by informing you that this trip is NOT for the faint of heart or stomach. I don’t think you have to be in the best shape of your life, but you will need to know how to throw a shape or something. First of all, balancing on a boat while the waters are rough, should be an Olympic sport in itself. Perhaps somewhere between swimming and the balance beam. It requires all the leg and core power you have. Also, your reflexes need to be on 10 all the time. Quick reflexes come in handy from trying to catch wine glasses before they crash onto the floor, while your boat is moving at full speed, to racing to the back of the boat to use your whole human arm push off of the dock in just enough time so your boat doesn’t crash, while in the middle of a boating accident…Yes… both of these things happened. Also, let me be very clear that the only way to get from boat to boat will either be to swim or to climb boats. Ain't no side walk length runways and ain’t no streets on the water. At any time, you may be required to decide which option you want to choose,  whether it be daylight or night time. Your inner Laura Croft needs to be ready to risk her life at any moment. There was one point at about 2am while scaling boat roofs that I realized, I was risking my life for a game of Uno, a shot and some fun. Regarding your stomach, it would be in your best interest to have a few hospital grade first aid kits on deck with you. You broke a foot? Aint no hospital, Bih… wrap that joint up with the Ace bandage and some tape. You damn near cut your big toe off… TWICE??? Pour some Iodine on that joint and get the gauze on and POPPIN! Ain’t no Grey’s Anatomy on the open seas shawty. Oh and yes… these things happened as well :-) So per my intro… if you panic in moments of minor and extreme injury… this ain’t for you boo!

Let’s talk about these boats. These boats are not apartments, not hotel rooms and not Airbnb’s. This is not an episode from Below Deck, and you are not living in the lap of luxury. These are places you lay your head and your bags, whenever you’re not partying on shore or on the deck. So that bathroom you thought you were going to be able to pee and boo boo in after a night of indulgence and heavy drinking… Nope! It may not be there for you when you need it most. They clog, the water runs out, and more. You can call for middle of the night assistance, but if you have an experience like mine, they may not come to help you. To add some color to this explanation, there was a  moment when I realized that 4 day old poo and pee were sitting in the bowl next to where I was brushing my teeth. It wasn’t my most proud moment. Showers are few and far in between. EVEN WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR CYCLE LADIES!!!! This means stock up on all the baby wipes, keep an extra bottle of water or two to the side for your daily hoe baths and as soon as you hear there is a shower on shore, get your ass the HELL UP AS EARLY AS YOU CAN so you can use it.  

I’d also like to give a quick word to the wise to all of my curly, koily, kinky, braided and twisted cousins. As with any of your travels to places where we barely exist, this is ground zero territory for personal space violation. Both because of cultural curiosity from the locals and because of drug and alcohol induced assholeism from your fellow yacht weekers. Is your hair braided?  People will pull it. Is your hair coily? great! People will stroke it! Is your skin a gorgeous chocolaty brown or bronzed caramel? Fantastic! People will touch you! Maybe even grab you! Or like in my case… slap you with their flip flop and tell you they love you… I say this not to deter anyone, but to put the warning out there. We have a shit ton of conversations about to touch my hair or not to touch my hair, and while it is clear that you are NOT the Please Touch Museum, please be aware this is more common than we appreciate. So whether you choose to respond to someones else’s hands with your own hands, or if you decide to use these experiences as teachable moments for your non kinky haired and non melinated brethren, please don’t say no one warned you.  

And while we’re on the subject of culture… One of my homies on the trip asked one of the TYW staff members who target TYW demographic is. She responded by asking him to guess. His guess, based on their social media, program curation and overall experience was 18-35 White European. The staff member was offended… She said no thats not true TYW is for everyone. Well I’d like to be to be the realest there ever was and tell you the truth.  Per my own experience, while I do think TYW is happy to take everyones money, and happy to involve anyone on their tours, I did experience that their brand is not for people who look like me. On my boat there were 10 black people, and there were a few other boats with a significant number of black TYW travelers, with additional sprinkles in between. But, when it came time for photos, videos, and the revered regatta…  you know public facing marketing materials, we found some “political” inconsistencies… In fact, a staff member directly told my crew and I that she had found out that we had won, but they had to give the prize to another crew for “political reasons. It’s cool. We’ve been black on earth for a few decades now. We know what that means… So yes you will go to Yacht week and have a great time… but if you’re experience is like ours, you may not see yourself in the HUNDREDS of pictures that they post… and no matter how creative your regatta costumes may be, you’re likely have to compete with “political forces”. But we already know, the only people that see us… the real us… is us. #Kanyeshrug.

Overall the experience was dope. Like I said, I had some cash, I like to party, I like to camp, and after a couple of shots I can be Laura Croft too, but while most blog posts I read gave me the rainbows, unicorns, and and glitter recaps, I wanted to keep it a straight 100 for anyone who wishes to read this. I want everyone to do The Yacht Week, or another experience like it. I want everyone to go to far away lands with their good friends and best friends and take the most amazing pictures ever. I also want y’all to know whats up, when you do it. 

Also, if you’re wondering. No I’m not doing Yacht week next year, but as for will I ever, again?  I haven’t counted it out just yet… I’ll need to sleep on it and get me a classier boat :-)