Captain: Heiko Franken
Heiko, born and raised in Germany, is an RYA Yachtmaster Offshore. He left his job in IT management in 2014 to begin his dream to travel. Initially intending to be away for about a year, he soon realized that going back to an office-based job did not feel right for him anymore. Since then he has travelled throughout South and Central America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia. During this time he visited 30+ countries, speed-hiked the Camino de Santiago, hiked up 5000m high mountains, learned to speak Spanish, went scuba and freediving around the world and had many more beautiful experiences above and below the water. He is a Freediving Instructor and PADI Divemaster. Heiko loves to be out in the blue of the ocean and enjoys sharing his passions as a guide by creating safe and unique experiences.
Chef/Mate: Rebecca Wu
Rebecca was born and raised in New York City but has lived all around the world since 2004. After graduating from NYU in 2002 with B.A. in Economics & Psychology, Rebecca worked in the financial services industry in New York and Hong Kong. A trip to Australia in 2005 changed her life – she learned to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and fell completely in love with scuba diving. Two years later, she left the concrete jungle and trading floor for real jungles and sea floors. She spent two months diving her way around the Philippines, three months on a marine conservation expedition in Madagascar and four months completing her Divemaster internship in Malaysia. Afterwards, life took an unexpected turn and she found herself living in Sweden for a year, where she discovered her love for sailing and life afloat. Still holding onto her dream to teach scuba and share the underwater world with others, she put her plans for sailing to the Caribbean on hold to become a PADI Instructor in 2009. She has worked in Thailand, Hawaii and Indonesia for more than a decade in nearly every facet of the scuba diving industry, from guiding and instructing to dive center and resort management to working on a liveaboard. She loves life in the tropics, surrounded by water, nature and wildlife and thrives on sharing her passions with her guests.
Heiko and Rebecca met in Utila, Honduras while they were doing their Master Freediver course in 2015. After several years of working in different countries and flying across oceans to see each other, they decided to create a life together in 2020. Their mutual love for the ocean, travel and exploration led them to obtain their RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualifications together in Gibraltar in 2020, sailing thousands of miles along the coasts of Spain, Portugal and Morocco, dodging the infamous orcas along the way. Shortly afterwards, they crewed their first yacht together in the USVI and have been flourishing as team ever since.
They are passionate about providing a highly professional level of service in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere while creating the most memorable experiences for their guests. They love getting to know you and tailoring each charter to your preferences and desires, allowing you to kick back, relax and enjoy. With a deep love and respect for the natural world, they maintain a strong focus on environmentally aware hospitality and best practices to ensure minimal impact on the environment.
The food is a big part of your experience on board and you can expect to be well taken care of by this food loving duo. Rebecca is a self-taught chef with a passion for gastronomy and the culinary arts. Her cuisine is primarily Mediterranean and Southeast Asian and is full of fresh ingredients and bright flavors. She draws a great deal of inspiration from her multi-cultural upbringing as well as nearly two decades spent living and traveling all around the world. You’ll also find Heiko in the galley baking authentic German-style bread or creating swoon-worthy desserts that will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. They are happy to cater to a variety of dietary requirements and in particular, specialize in vegetarian and vegan cuisine.
Heiko and Rebecca are back for their fourth charter season in the Virgin Islands after three successful seasons running a total of 47 charters. This dynamic couple is excited to be on Big Nauti for 2023/24 and look forward to welcoming you aboard, showing you the wonders of the Virgin Islands and creating memories to last a lifetime!