Jérôme “Jay” Monney is a sailor, racer and yacht build project manager but his main focus these days is surveying.

Jay’s great-grandfather (Pietro Cueroni) was a shipbuilder as was his grandfather (Gaspare “Rino” Cueroni), who during World War II under the Mussolini regime was deported to Hitler’s Germany at age 17 to build Messerschmitt aircraft.

After the war ended, he didn’t return to Italy but settled down in Nyon, on the north shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and made quite a name for himself, primarily building wooden boats. He was involved in the build of UBS Switzerland & Merit with Pierre Fehlmann as skipper.

“Many think the Swiss don’t know a lot about boats because we are landlocked but we have plenty of lakes with variable wind conditions,” Jay says.

Jay grew up trilingual (German, Italian, and French), and though the passion for the sea jumped a generation in his family, Jay took to marine life early. His granddad took him around the yards when he could hardly walk, walking along the side of the boats caressing them as if they were beautiful women.

Jay took up Optimist and Laser sailing when he was young, but then took a break from sailing to do his apprenticeship as a dental technician and join the Swiss army. He was also a competitive ice hockey player when he was younger, even being considered a prospect for the Swiss under-18 national team.

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Jay and his friends spent many summers traveling through Europe on an Inter Rail pass, so he was used to traveling and age 24 ended up in Thailand in 1999 as a broke backpacker after traveling through Indonesia for a couple months. He took a job at a dive shop in Patong, after getting his Dive Master’s and Instructor’s certification.

A short time later, Jay was named Cruise Director for The Junk (June Hong Chian Lee), a three-masted golden teak boat from 1999-2006, owned by Warm Water Divers & the Dive Inn Co., Ltd (the former company owner Frank de Groot is now a taxi driver in Holland). Jay was in charge of luxury live-aboard dive cruises around the Andaman Sea in Thailand as well as Myanmar (Burma). Jay first met his wife Kay on this boat in 2000 and the couple was married in 2005.

In the low season, they would travel to Indonesia where they were the Cruise Directors for Ocean Rover luxury dive cruises, leading multiple day dive trips on one of the top 10 luxury diving cruise boats to some of Indonesia’s best dive sites. He also worked as a Cruise Director for Worldwide Dive & Sail, where he was in charge of live-aboard dive cruises on an Indonesian built Phinisi around Komodo National Park in Indonesia.

This was followed by a stint as Office Manager for Euro-Divers Worldwide, dealing with day-to-day operational issues, human resources, sales & marketing as well as boat maintenance.

Then Jay and Kay were involved in building and then put in charge of a 61m wooden schooner from 2009-2012 called WAOW, which was one of the flagships of luxury live-aboard diving throughout the entire Indonesian Archipelago with 18 guests and 22 crew on board. Jay calculated he did 13,000 nautical miles on average per year.

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Jay and Kay (seen in photo below) then went to work for a wealthy Indonesian woman, traveling to Croatia, Eygpt and Singapore sourcing and surveying potential yachts above 45m for conversion to a superyacht. He designed conversion ideas, and worked on cost calculations and cost analysis for potential yacht conversions.

Tiring of that, Jay and Kay returned to Thailand in Songkran of 2016, where Jay started into surveying seriously. Kay worked for Northrop & Johnson and Camper & Nicholsons for a while but is now the director of arts, craft and culture at the Blue Tree Lagoon.

Unlike most people Jay didn’t suffer during Covid. “People were buying boats like fresh bread coming out of the bakery; I had my best year last year.”

Jay says it takes two-to-three days to do the survey and another three days to write up the report (he makes a promise of 3-5 working days).

“It’s all about writing a balanced report, and who is going to read it? Do they have much nautical knowledge? You have to write the report in such a way that those reading it will understand it.

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“Insurance companies want to know if the boat will ground, sink, burn, collide, or drift? How safe is the fuel system; is there a spare anchor on board; what conditions is the anchor chain in, are the shackles seized properly with safety wire: is there a functioning depth sounder; are the sea cocks properly connected? The insurance company doesn’t care too much about the cosmetics.”

Jay spent close to two decades on and around boats in the diving industry in many parts of Southeast Asia, incl. Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and all of Indonesia, and had (?) after over 10,000 dives as professional dive guide. His forte was as a professional dive guide and underwater photographer. Guests knew what they wanted and the fish they wanted to photograph or see and it was Jay’s job to take them to those fish.

“I like the freedom I have; I never wanted to put all my eggs in one basket. Surveying is what I primarily do these days but I need a charter every once in awhile to break things up. I also do after-sales for Asia Yachting on Monte Carlo and Prestige yachts, especially for boats still under warranty. And I do some refit work with Drake Marine International in Phuket.”

At this point we must mention Jay’s good friend, Jeroen Deknatel, who in 1979 started Fantasea Divers, one of Thailand’s pioneering scuba diving companies. Rather than renting local tour boats he made a point of owning and operating his own dive boats. Jay worked for Jeroen and in 2009, when Jeroen became a surveyor; he encouraged Jay to become one too. It took Jay a while but he did follow Jeroen’s suggestion and became a marine surveyor for yachts and small crafts (DipYachtSur) with the Maritime Training Academy in Portsmouth, England, where he graduated with merit in 2016.

Today, Jay is running his own company "Waterborne Experts - Marine Surveys & Consulting" and working closely with his friend, former employer and mentor, Jeroen Deknatel of Waterline Marine surveying boats all over Southeast Asia.

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Waterborne Experts is advertised as experts in marine surveys, appraisals, valuations, assistance with maintenance or repairs, guidance on re-fits and new builds in Thailand.

Jay has also been seen on the water a lot more these days as his cousin Constantin Sergiou is a professional skipper of a 67-foot catamaran that was based in Yacht Haven and Ao Po for awhile, but is now on the way to Rio de Janeiro. He helped spark Jay’s renewed interest in sailing as did the Gillows, his next door neighbours, who he sailed with on Poco in local regattas.

Sailing, surveying, building boats, like his grandfather and great grandfather before him Jay was built for the sea and all things nautical (https://www.waterborne-experts.com/).

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