Who’s that blonde bombshell over there? Why, that’s Susann of ‘Ilios’. Really? She seems awfully quiet. Oh, my friend, if only you knew, if only you knew! My curiosity was aroused so I got chatting to Susann over the last week and I quickly realised that writing a profile on her was going to be difficult. Difficult in that I only have one page to document the many, many things Susann does! From chartering to exporting generators, from motorbikes to oriental dancing, Susann takes multi-tasking to the extreme. After interviewing her I now understand why some people have 27 hour clocks by their bed. This girl does it all……..
Her current charter business is a far cry from her childhood, which was spent in Hannover, Germany. As a teenager Susann sailed on Steinhuder Meer when she wasn’t motor-crossing (she has the scars to prove it), but her passion for sailing was put on the back-burner when she set up a car repair shop. This lasted some years but, feeling uninspired, she left Germany and moved to the south of France, where she looked after a friend’s boat. “That boat was ‘Ilios’”, she explained. “I looked after it because the owner was to become a father. When this happened he quit his sailing life and move ashore but it took him couple of years to part with the boat! I’d grown so fond of ‘Ilios’ that I couldn’t let her go and decided to buy it from him”. ‘Ilios’ is a 54ft Beaufort built in 1973 and started life as a ketch, but the previous owner removed the mizzen. She is still very fast! The doghouse was retro-fitted. The original hull was cold moulded marine ply covered with polyester. “Eventually she got sick and started to develop acne, so we stripped her down and covered her with West System epoxy and fibre-glass. I got a lot of help from Turkish workers….Yacht Marina didn’t exist back then, it was just stones, snakes and scorpions! The help came from Notika Boat Yard in Istanbul as there were no skilled marine workers on epoxy treatments in Marmaris at this time”. Having lived in Turkey for 18 years now Susann claims to be the grandmother of female skippers on duty!
The bill for the boat took Susann to Fort Lauderdale and Miami in America, where she worked for Fisher Panda. Susann was charged with setting up the US distribution network for marine and mobile AC/ DC power systems. Working on the marketing, technical training and the dealer network opened her up to the marine industry so after a few years she left Fisher Panda to set up her own business, supplying marine power equipment, chilled water systems and water-makers to the marine OEM market. After ten years she still runs this venture, exporting American water makers, generators and air conditioning units to Europe and Turkey.
After sailing ‘Ilios’ to Turkey via Italy and Greece, she set up another business: Ilios Yachting. Susann covers everything, from sailing courses to charters for kids and newer ventures like her brokerage business and marine consultancy. We sat down at the laptop and checked out her three websites. Not only does Susann charter her own boat, she also manages bookings for many other vessels! Try keeping that website up to date whilst taking clients out sailing every day! “I would love to find more time to spend with Thomas, who works for the competition. To get round this problem we often sail together to the same anchorages, much to his boss’s chagrin! We’re hoping to do a trip around the Greek islands on our motorbikes this year. If you are reading this, Thomas, don’t forget. You promised!” Susann met Thomas five years ago, which reignited her desire to become a charter skipper again. She explained that “we both come from Hannover. We both went to the same clubs and we both ran car repair shops, me in the north of the city and him in the south, yet our paths never crossed! We had to come all the way to Turkey to meet”. I asked Susann what their favourite anchorage is. “That’s very difficult to answer. I love them all and even after all these years I love returning to them. Really it’s about the people we are with and the Turkish people we hang out with in the restaurants. If I was forced to pick one, however, it would be Sarsala in Göcek. When I go there it’s like going home and even if I only go out for a weekend sail, I’ll go to Sarsala”.
I’ve saved Susann’s greatest passion till last. As those who attended the New Year’s Dinner in Yacht Marina will know Susann was a professional oriental dancer. “I’ve travelled all over the world with my dancing, attending workshops in places like Egypt, New York and Istanbul. Despite being ‘retired’ from dancing for fourteen years now she still dons those beautiful hand-made costumes and hasn’t forgotten a move. “It was a very good time in my life and I love oriental dancing passionately”. That and working out in the gym, running two businesses, chartering boats, mountain biking, updating three websites and selling generators. I’m exhausted just writing about her, but I’ve managed to get it all on one page…..phew!
See Susann’s websites here: