Business-savvy couple set sail on new venture

Tara and Mark Wehrley with the Mirage, the newest boat in the V&A Waterfront harbour.

One could say that Tara and Mark Wehrley were destined to open a business at sea, considering their combined experience with boats and in the hospitality industry.

Earlier this year the couple recently launched Mirage760 – the newest cruise yacht and tourist attraction in the harbour at the V&A Waterfront, offering day and sunset cruises to Robben Island, Blaauwberg or Clifton’s coast, and has also become a venue for private functions.

Tara said despite the challenges they faced when they first opened their business, it was like her and Mark’s entire history came together to help get the Mirage up and running.

Originally from Minnesota in America Tara met Mark, from Durban, in the Carribean. They decided to come to South Africa, where Mark started a company with his family called Matrix yachts. They now live in Blaauwberg, near to the sea, with their children.

“I love South Africa. I came from a very cold place, Minnesota. So I really enjoy Cape Town especially because it has the sea and the mountain. There are so many things to do in Cape Town. It’s a beautiful city to live in.”

Tara first became interested in boats when she met Mark 14 years ago. Previously a high school biology teacher in America, Tara decided to pursue her passion for food, and enrolled in culinary school. She then became a chef on a yacht after her new found interest in sailing.

They then decided to build the Mirage760. “Mark spent over a year building the boat. He took the basic yacht and we made it very special for the V&A Waterfront. We feel like the Waterfront is a growing area, and we felt that it was a great new addition that we could be part of.”

One of the challenges that Tara and Mark faced was getting the boat into the Waterfront’s harbour. “It has been a very, very long process to get the approval and all necessary documentation to function as a business in the V&A – countless meetings and hundreds of emails to advocate for us to put this boat here.”

To ensure their new business thrives, Tara and Mark are being as hands-on as possible. “We work together as a team. Whether it’s greeting guests or sailing or serving, taking ropes or cleaning bathrooms, we work as a team. Everyone must do every job. Hopefully that will make our crew successful and happy – a happy crew (means) happy guests.”