You have repeatedly liked the photos of these people who lead a luxurious lifestyle: expensive watches, megayachts and parties with celebrities. They seem to be lucky; in fact, for many of them, sharing frames longer than Vita is a job, not an entertainment. These people are called the fashion word «influenser». They are bloggers of thousands who are opinion» «leaders - everyone in their field. The person known at Instagram as TheYachtGuy is exactly the opinion leader in the superyacht world. Journalist Oliver Lee Bateman bumped into him at a superyacht party and found out what was really behind the bright cover of a blogger from the world of XL yachts. We translated his story, which was published in the online magazine MEL.
It seems that Alex Jimenez, also known as TheYachtGuy, has comfortably settled «in the circles» of blogger installers drowning in luxury. But the truth is that he is in a sense confused in his own life. In America, they talk about such people «lost at sea» and in this case, phraseology has not even double but triple meaning.
Working in 2017 on a material on medical tourism and stem cells in Slovakia, which led me to the hospitals in Bratislava and Vienna, I visited a party on an 86.2m yacht in the French Riviera. I watched intoxicated rich people enjoying expensive fun wearing cheap white bath slippers (the first rule of the yacht club is that shoes do not belong on a yacht, and they are huge piles at the entrance to the boat) and thought: How can someone «spend their whole life like this?»
Then as if on a signal, sitting at a table aft with Lindsay Lohan and her entourage, I noticed a dude who really lives like this. Alex Jimenez was a professional blogger and opinion leader in yachting and he worked hard.
I didn't know that at the time, of course. I just saw a free chair next to a long guy wearing a free polo shirt and a flat canopy Yankees cap and sat next to him. As everyone else gradually joined the noisy holiday on the bow of the yacht, Jiménez started a conversation with me. He noted that I look thoughtful at the same time and like a person who feels out of place.
«I am working," I said. - I never stop working. All I can think about is work.
«Hey, me too," he said. - I'm working right now.
«I used to feel that my career was in a terrible state," he continued. - I was a truck driver in the Bronx, and I think I picked up a yacht virus. I'd go to the bookstore, occupy a table there, and read everything I could find about boats.Then, on the first weekend after I downloaded Instagram - just after Instagram was available for download - I went to a luxury boat boat show and took some pictures of the yachts. Added some hashtags and pretty soon I had 800,000 subscribers. But the number didn't really matter to the people who were paying me. Only quality. I was subscribed to by influential people, Gulf Princes and Russian tycoons who were really able to buy these yachts.
When Jimenez said he was working, I assumed he«was working in the same» way as Lindsay Lohan - working in the crowd. He looked solid enough to wear an expensive, custom-made watch with all the wheels, gears and levers on display.
«No, I'm not a celebrity," he assured me. - I'm here to take a couple of photos and post a few hundredoris from a yacht that brokers are trying to sell. I borrowed a watch from a friend. I wear it, take a picture of my wrist and mark his company in my Instagram account. This is just a small part of my crazy activity».
«The crazy activity»associated with yachts, as I soon learned, was an overwhelming passion of all Jiménez's life. He went from a guy who puts photos of boats in Instagram only in his forehead and «processes» them with publicly available filters, to a guy who puts photos of boats in Instagram.the guy that the yacht brokers pay to stay on their boat and mention that the boat is moored there and available for purchase or charter.He was transported by helicopter from one side to the other and slept in the smallest guest cabins.
«The yacht we're on now used to be a cruise liner they'd upgraded," he told me. - You can sleep a dozen guests here, and the deck will fit even more. Anyway, it's crowded.
I noticed that the bathrooms were small, and with a hundred or so people on board already pretty dirty.
«Yes, that's how it works," he said. - It's an endless party, especially on yachts 61 metres and over, the so-called "superyachts". Tight, all under some kind of substance, and the bathrooms begin to use God knows what for. There's a galley and dining room, but getting food there when you're really hungry is a big luck. You're not here to eat at the table, although there are usually nice dining rooms for that. The center of gravity is the bars on each deck.
We walked around the yacht and people were swimming and bumping into each other, their speech merged into a single buzz and even more distorted by the deep bass of the music that played on the upper and lower deck.
Jimenez's cabin was really tiny, almost like a capsule hotel.
He showed me a heavy metal suitcase in which he kept his rented valuables: a collection of borrowed watches from several businessmen he knew.
«The clock is very heavy," he said. - It looks great, but the straps often hit the wrist. And, yes, the room is small, but you can't sleep much with my night schedule. During the day I may take one photo and put a few hundredorisas in Instagram, but I'm supposed to be on deck: mixing with party people and selling the mysterious atmosphere of the yacht.
Jimenez was honest with me. Once upon a time, he was delighted with the idea of parties on a yacht. After all, who wouldn't? But now mostly he just worked hard. He had a house and a family, but he didn't see as many children as he would have liked, because his feet weren't «on solid ground all the time.
He had a lot of experience, he knew all the key players in the world of yachting, buyers, sellers and their great boats. He was on a 30.5 metre yacht and a 152.5 metre yacht and saw what he assured me was being done on a yacht that was superior to any fantasy - light or dark - I could do.
At the same time, it meant that now he was just another member of the staff on the boat, those who worked on the clock (nacred-painted wristwatch in his case) - as cooks, bartenders and crew.
«You saw the crew," he told me. - They're about 30 people here, they're Greeks and serious as a heart attack. In nine out of ten cases, the crew on these yachts are either Greeks or Russians. The rich people who hire them discuss for a long time with whom it is better to go: with the first or with the second. They can make good money, and on a 152.5-meter yacht with a crew of 60 or 70 people talking about $5-6 thousand a month, plus accommodation on board.
Having worked as an opinion leader for years, Jimenez realized what the real appeal of high-class marine life was.
«You have to be really rich to own one of these boats," he says. - I mean, you have to be very, very rich to have a 91.5 metre yacht. It's not enough to be just as rich as James Lebron or Tiger Woods or Johnny Depp. In terms of the superyacht world, they're not rich. We're talking about 10% or more of the cost of a yacht, which will have to pay for its maintenance every year. Brokers can seriously change this figure because they have a lot of investors and because they charter a yacht to compensate for the cost, but for a person who owns an Eclipse (Roman Abramovich), it does not matter. He doesn't rent it out to the charter. It has a submarine and a missile detection system. You see, the power of owning a great yacht like Eclipse is in what you tell the world: I am above buying and selling. You say, "I have more money than you can have. I'm out. There are no limits left for me on land." I mean, the true peace is only at sea.
Jimenez, a child from a poor Puerto Rican family, grew up in need. He worked 50-60 hours at every job he ever had. He believed that recycling was a necessary part of his duties, for which he received a basic payment.
He still thinks of himself as one of those annoying types who calls 40 hours a week part-time «work.
Now he lives a «comfortable life in the middle class,»but, sitting with me in my cabin, he's afraid that all this could disappear at any moment.
«Using someone else's social media platform, I created a small working network," he says. - If Instagram changes the algorithm slightly, it will affect my business. If Instagram disables some of the tools I use to manage and monitor my account, it will affect my business. If Instagram goes away and is replaced by something newer and better, I need to be the first to occupy the niche like I did with this account. If I don't do this, I'm done. I'm completely dependent on a platform that I have absolutely no control over.
For Jiménez, Instagram is basically a money tree that needs to be fed and from which to harvest as many crops as possible before its popularity is lost.
As a means of competition, he grows«daughter» yacht accounts with similar names and images that advertise each other through his basic profile. His goal is to make them large enough to be sold to yacht brokers or shipbuilders.
«I build them up and then sell them, and my clients get a ready-made account with real subscribers and reasonable involvement," he tells me. - I focused on this when I realized that this work is not just about "life party", that social media development is something you do day and night. I give out these posts when I'm sitting on a boat, when things are very slow. I don't do it for fun. I don't publish stupid things. Mostly I do sponsor ads that fit into a certain format. I look through Instagram like a hawk to see if there is anything that prevents these other accounts from growing, and see if there is still activity under the main posts that I need .
After admiring Jiménez's cabin, we went out on deck by the boat and leaned on the railing. The sun sat down and we studied the well-lit promenade of Cannes.
«If you could have anything, anything in the world, what would you want?»- he asked me.
«I think we should keep writing and keep getting paid for it," I»answered.
«Well, I'd like a yacht," said Jimenez. - I used to just want to be on boats because I thought parties were cool and technology was exciting, but now that I've spent a lot of my life on parties like this, I really want to own a boat. Being an owner, really owning her fully, being able to pay for her maintenance means that you have somehow freed yourself from work and need. If you own a yacht in this sense, you're a free man. The fuss and the hard work are in the past.
I asked him if he planned to go ashore while we were on the French Riviera.
«No, I'm going to stay here because I'm scheduled to be on another of these yachts tomorrow," he said. - I know quite well every boat in this harbour - owners, captains, specifications.
People say, "Alex, you're on boats all day long. That's life." This isn't an endless summer or a long vacation a year. This is my way of making money.
I help rich people and rich companies advertise their yachts. I acquired all the knowledge I have when I loved yachts so much that I spent the whole weekend studying them for free, and now I sell my knowledge to people. I sell all day long what I know, and all I know is worth something. I never forget the time, I always track it by this expensive wristwatch with big dials. So I'm sure I never go ashore when I work.