The Sailing Adventures of Navigare Yachting Owner - Jan Malmberg

/ Published in Yacht Investment

The Sailing Adventures of Navigare Yachting Owner - Jan Malmberg

We recently had the pleasure to speak with a Navigare boat owner from Sweden, Jan Malmberg, who after taking his boat out of Navigare’s charter fleet in 2008, has sailed around the world over many years. The boat he sails with today, Fragancia, is the same boat he bought back in 2004!

During the interview, Jan shared incredible stories from his adventures sailing the world and talked about his personal experiences with Navigare Yachting from the very beginning of his sailing journey up until today. 

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Jan’s relationship with Navigare began many years ago. His first contact with our charter company was back in 2003, two years after it was founded, when he chartered a Bavaria 44 from Navigare’s fleet in Greece. The year before, he had chartered in the same destination with a local charter company. What immediately stood out to him about the boat from Navigare’s fleet was how much better condition it was in compared to the boat he had chartered the previous year.

“This boat had been in charter for two years, chartered for a total of 45 weeks, and looked like it came from Bavaria yesterday,” Jan recounts. “It was in prime condition.” When the boat is in such spotless condition, “all charter guests can see that there are no scratches on it, and nobody wants to make the first scratch. But when the whole boat is covered in scratches when you arrive, a few more is not going to make much of a difference,” Jan says. In line with this mentality, the condition of the boats that Jan had chartered on his previous trips had degraded quickly after only a few seasons. 

He remembers his first week-long charter experience with Navigare as a very positive one. At the time, the Greek base was on the island of Poros and there were maybe 8-10 boats in the fleet. Both Jesper Rönngard and Per Abrahamason, the founders of Navigare Yachting, were there and Jan met both in person. “All the people at the base were very service-minded and friendly,” he recalls.

After his family’s satisfactory charter experience in Greece with Navigare, and after seeing first-hand how well cared for the boats were, Jan, who was in the market to buy a boat at the time, felt that he could trust Navigare as a charter company.  “A few weeks later, Jesper was at my house in Stockholm and we talked about what it would be like to own a boat in the Navigare fleet.” Jan had liked the Bavaria 44 from his earlier charter experience so that ended up being the boat he purchased – he named it Fragancia. 

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Jesper took care of the logistics and managed the purchase straight from the shipyard, so Jan himself did not have to worry about anything. “I was suddenly the owner of a brand new Bavaria 44, fully equipped with navigation equipment, life rafts, bed sheets and towels for 10 people, and kitchenware. Navigare took care of the boat one year at a time – that’s how it worked back then. I was among the first to own a boat in the Navigare fleet,” Jan explained.

Jan and his family had previously owned a 30-foot Ballad for private use and had originally considered going for something slightly bigger; the 45-footer he eventually bought felt like a very big step from a 30-foot boat, but Jan does not regret that decision. He says “For me, it was a way to get a larger boat for my growing family.” It’s also a wise financial investment to choose a bigger boat if you are putting it in charter, he explains. What beckoned on the horizon was also the dream to one day sail around the world with a bigger boat. That dream became a reality. 

The boat, Fragancia, spent a total of four years in the charter fleet in Greece, at the end of which Jan, with friends and family, sailed it through the Mediterranean past Spain and up north home to Sweden. Before the boat was taken out of the fleet in 2008, Jan made some updates to it with the help of Navigare. Then in 2015, he updated the boat again, this time to prepare it for long-distance sailing. “I have a watermaker now,” he says. “Since I have sailed around the world, I also have a lot of equipment on the boat. We have multiple energy sources.” Jan explained that more than one energy source is important for long-distance sailing since you need to have a backup if the primary source fails. That’s why he had solar panels installed along with a fuel cell. 


It was in 2015 that Jan left the safety of his home in Sweden to embark on a life-changing adventure to sail around the globe, a journey that has brought him to nearly every corner of the world, where he has met people from different walks of life and experienced things he never would have experienced otherwise. It’s been such an enriching experience that Jan has sailed ever since, except a few years during Covid, when he got stuck in New Zealand. 

During his journey, Jan has used something called Paying Crew, which is a concept where you host crewmembers on your boat – often backpackers and adventurers –  who pay to join you. With Paying Crew, you get a source of income as well as a helping hand. Usually, they will assist in sailing the boat and take a few hours of night watch every night, but many will also help with household chores such as cooking, baking bread, and brewing coffee in the morning. They step onboard in one destination and step off in another, so for the crew members, it can be a means of getting from point A to point B, while experiencing an adventure at the same time. 

Jan points out that, not only is this a way to finance a sailing trip around the world, it is also a way to make lasting friendships and connections. “We get so close to one another and we become like a family. We call it the ‘Fragancia family’,” he says. “And the Fragancia family is part of the Navigare family,” Jan adds with a smile. 

Right now, he has a German backpacker onboard, Nils. Jan explains that Nils doesn’t have an economy, so he is not “Paying Crew", just crew, but they split the cost of food. Nils helps out sailing the boat and he is a very good cook and a barista as well, Jan says. “I wake up to the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning”, he says smiling. And tonight, Nils is going to make a Hungarian dish for dinner, which is where his parents are originally from. 

There are different ways to find crew members. One way is to ask on social media, and spell out your sailing plans on Facebook for example. There are several Facebook groups you can join that connect hitchhikers and crew members with sailors. Another way is to ask around among your friends and contacts. Jan mentioned that sometimes hitchhikers simply come up to him and ask if they can join. It helps when your boat is big enough to host several guests without feeling crowded. A few times his sons have joined him and friends of the sons. Others have become close friends after sailing with him year after year. They just love to cross oceans, so they keep coming back. While Paying Crew may not be profitable, Jan says that it’s a huge help. 2017, when Jan sailed the Caribbean, was the only year when his income from Paying Crew was bigger than the costs, so it’s not impossible to make a profit. If you do want to make money on Paying Crew, he recommends sailing in the Mediterranean, although the Caribbean may also be a good choice.


Throughout his adventures on the sea, Jan has crossed many oceans. The distances are great and a journey like the one he makes takes planning and preparation. This year alone, the boat has traveled 10,000 nautical miles, from New Zealand to Fiji, to New Guinea, and Australia to Bali, Cocos Keeling Islands, and now the Seychelles. 

Food is among the main preparations. You need to pack a lot of food and try to be smart about it. For example, Jan and his crew bring flour so they can bake bread. The flour is not perishable, so it’s a great pantry item to bring along with pasta and canned food. Water is another important thing to consider, especially to have a functioning water maker onboard, and to make sure the water tanks are filled when you leave. Jan brings water bottles as well to have as many sources of water as possible. Fish is also a great source of food when you’re in the middle of the ocean. Tuna is a common catch almost everywhere, but depending on where you are, you can also get some interesting catches, like the 44-pound Wahoo that Jan caught outside of the Seychelles. 

All planning aside, we asked Jan what it’s like to cross an ocean. “The first 2-3 days can be a bit tough, but then you forget about time. It’s irrelevant,” he says. As Jan and his crew were crossing the Indian Ocean on the way to the Seychelles, they realized it would take longer than they originally had planned. It didn’t matter, their only question had been ‘Will we have enough food?’ But Jan explains that he always packs more than he thinks they will need in case something unexpected happens. 

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Thankfully, Jan and his crew made it safely to the Seychelles, where Jan is located at the time of this interview, but as alluded to, the voyage there was not the easiest. It was somewhere south of Java that a line hit the propeller and got stuck, which brought the boat to a sudden stop. With the help of another seafarer, they got the buffer out. But it was not long after this incident that the engine broke down and they ended up having to sail some 3,500 nautical miles (about 3 weeks) without it, all the way from Cocos Keeling Islands to Seychelles. There was not a lot of wind. At times, he says, they were simply drifting, swimming around the boat, and taking one day at a time.

It was around this time that he wrote to Jesper at Navigare Yachting via satellite after vaguely remembering a Navigare charter base there. “I wrote that we had some issues but were heading towards the Seychelles. You have a base there right?” Jan recalls asking. Jesper had responded that he was welcome and that they would help him with his boat problems once he arrived. “I asked, ‘Am I still a part of the Navigare family after 20 years?’ ‘Of course!’ Jesper responded.” Francois de Lafontaine, Navigare’s base manager in Mahe, came to greet Jan upon his arrival and Navigare’s boat mechanic helped him with some of the boat issues. “It was a bit of ‘luck in the unluck’ that Navigare has a base here in Seychelles because that made us feel safer in the middle of our misfortune,” Jan says.

Jan noted that this engine problem he has now is the biggest issue he has ever had with Fragancia since he started his sailing adventures. It is incredible how long this boat has been in use; it’s the boat’s 20th anniversary next year. And Fragancia has for sure been through a lot. Sailing the world is an adventure, to say the least.

One such adventure that Jan shared was a storm he ended up in after leaving New Zealand. “It turned out that water was leaking from the deck from all these poles that hold the railing. We got water inside the boat and we didn’t know where it came from. I tasted it, and it was salty,” Jan says. The waves kept on washing over the deck causing more water to constantly leak into the salon. Not only was the boat thrown like a soccer ball down in the wave trough and hit with waves strong enough to crash against the mast with such force that Jan was afraid it would break, the salon was also completely flooded. As if it wasn’t enough, all this took place in pitch dark, in the middle of the night, but Jan and his crew figured out a way to pump out the water from the salon at a higher pace than it came in, and they made it safely through the stormy night. 

While Jan has sailed for many years, this was the only scary experience he recalls. For the most part, it’s amazing, he says. Immediately after the storm, they sailed around the islands in Fiji and it was a wonderful summer sailing with coral reefs and tropical islands, so Jan and his crew spent a few weeks in Fiji, recharging their batteries and enjoying life to the fullest.

Jan talks with fondness about all the different people he has met during his adventures at sea, all of different ages and life backgrounds. Most of his crew members are young men in their 20s and 30s, but once there was a 70-year-old man who joined him, an old adventurous captain from San Francisco. Jan has also met the local population in many destinations he has visited. One boy, whom he met in Barboda outside of Antigua, is poor and doesn’t have a father. Jan became almost like a father figure to him. He has kept in contact through all the years, calling Jan if he is sad, and sometimes Jan sends him money when he is hungry. 

“Most people are very nice everywhere,” he says. On islands, like in the Caribbean and Polynesia, the way to meet the local population is to go to the churches, Jan tells us. During the services, you will find the locals gathered there and a few Westerners who are usually sailors. It’s a very different experience to go to church in these locations compared to in the West, Jan explains. Everyone greets everyone, you shake hands with all the men and hug all the women, and if a child has a birthday, the priest will give them a high-five. 

It seems like Jan is not the only sailor who has figured out that the churches are the place to go to meet the locals. When asked about it, he says he believes it’s partly to meet the locals, but also because many sailors become religious on their journeys. They are at the mercy of the natural forces at all times. At home in the west, we live in relative safety and comfort and most people get by financially. Out on the ocean, you live so close to nature and so close to the catastrophe, and the people on these islands can often relate. They live on very small margins and they don’t know if they will have food or if they will starve. “So we feel some sort of solidarity with one another, and at some point you need a God, and I have never thought about that in my life as a dentist. But now on the ocean, I can see that I need help from above sometimes,” Jan says.

When you are sailing, the ups and downs are very memorable. When it’s good, it’s amazing and when it’s bad it’s terrible, Jan explains. “If you can get through the bad parts, the good moments, by far outweigh the bad,” Jan assures. “I can really recommend this crazy dream to others who might also be crazy and wish to make this dream a reality”. That way, he says, you don’t have to regret not doing this when you are old. “I have the whole planet and I can travel. It’s not like with a car, the land ends and there is an ocean in the way. I can actually travel around the whole world with my boat. It’s an incredible feeling of freedom, and it’s an adventure, and there are people who are helpful and join me on my journey. We support each other and it gives you energy to keep going.”

If you are going to buy a boat to sail around the world, Jan thinks the 45-footer he has is a very good size. “It’s good to have room for Paying Crew,” he says. He also recommends buying the boat at a good price through Navigare Yachting. “Now I sound like I’m promoting Navigare Yachting,” he admits laughing. “But it’s just my own experience. I got to learn about this boat and all its equipment while Navigare took all responsibility for caring for it. I just got to sail, so it was a great gateway into [owning] a boat of this size,” he says. 

Jan recommends beginning your boating journey as a charter guest and preferably comparing different companies if you are interested in buying a boat. “My experience was that Navigare Yachting was hands down the company that took the best care of the boats,” Jan says. “Through my journey with Navigare, since 20 years, I have been very satisfied,” he adds.

Currently, Volvo Penta is helping Jan with the engine. As far as what plans Jan has for the near future, he is looking to sail to Greece and visit another Navigare charter base, if there is space for him at the dock, and then head back up to Sweden, hopefully in time for Christmas 2023. But it all depends on how quickly Volvo Penta manages to fix the engine. In the meantime, he will stay and enjoy the beautiful Seychelles, rent a car, and travel around for a bit. With or without a boat, in Jan’s life, every day is a new adventure. 

Since 2001, over 300,000+ charter guests have set sail with Navigare - it’s safe to say that your yachting adventure will be in capable hands. With 12 exotic locations worldwide, the possibilities are endless! Whether you're an experienced sailor or a first-time adventurer, Navigare Yachting opens up a world of exploration, discovery, and sailing that comes with complete peace of mind.

*All quotes have been translated from Swedish. 

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