Yachts, Seashells, and Metal Detectors: A Globetrotting Journey

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Join us for a captivating conversation with Dean Curbishley, a globetrotter with an incredible story to share. From his beginnings in a small English town to working on Tina Turner’s villa in the south of France for eight years, Dean’s journey is one of adventure, serendipity, and personal growth. In this episode, we dive into Dean’s experiences working on yachts, searching for seashells in the Caribbean, and his current venture in industrial metal detection, while also uncovering hidden gems and insider tips for exploring the stunning region of Southern France.

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Mike Putman:

[0:00] Good day, everyone. This is Mike Putman, and James is traveling now.

He has an exciting project that he’s working on, so hopefully next week he’ll be able to give us some insight.

But he will not be with us, but our producer since season one, Nathaniel DeSantis, is sitting in for James’ place.

And so welcome. Welcome, Nathaniel.

Nathaniel DeSantis:

[0:24] Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s fun, my first time actually co-hosting the podcast.

Everyone’s used to hearing me at the start of the episode intro-ing it, but it’s fun to actually be a part of it right now. So thank you for having me as a co-host.

Mike Putman:

[0:37] Absolutely. Thank you for doing it. And Nathaniel is a producer for our podcast and many other professional podcasts.

But today he’s going to be a host. And then we also have a very special guest, Mr. Dean Kerbishley.

Welcome, Dean.

Dean Curbishley:

[0:52] Thank you for having me.

Mike Putman:

[0:54] Yes. And thanks for being on No Tourist Allowed.

And Dean is someone I’ve known for quite some time. And Dean is just one of those guys, just super interesting guy.

He’s not a travel executive like a lot of our normal hosts are, but he’s spent a good bit of his life traveling and has some really interesting stories.

And so hopefully he’ll be able to share some of those today.

So Dean, why don’t we start off with tell our audience about growing up, where you grew up what that was like I.

Dean Curbishley:

[1:28] Grew up in a small town in the southwest of England called Honiton in Devonshire quite a rural town a lot of retirees there what a great deal of industry about 10 miles from the coast, um you know beautiful part of the country rains a lot, um but i was kind of set on set on moving abroad from a very young age you know yeah.

Mike Putman:

[1:59] So what was your education like uh did you make it through school and.

Dean Curbishley:

[2:04] Made it through school uh i did very well in what we have is the army cadets in england, which you can join when you’re 11 and you leave when you’re 16 and uh i stayed in you know for that whole five year duration i actually reached quite a high rank in my county and um at the age of 16 i decided to join uh the regular army in what’s called a junior leaders regiment regimen where basically it’s two years of uh boot camp and then you go into the adult army you know at 18 uh with a minimum of a lance corporal ranking oh nice but however i didn’t quite complete that um once i come out of there i went back into full-time education, and to do microelectronics it was at a time when computers were just being developed that government actually paid people to go and learn about microelectronics and the internal architecture of computers, which I did for a couple of years in Plymouth.

[3:14] And then got a job after that, very close to where I was from.

And fortunately, that place closed down and I had an opportunity to go to the south of France where my cousin, who was in the Merchant Navy, he’d retired from that and he was, working on private motor yachts and he kindly invited me to come down there to Nice in the south of France and work with him for a summer.

Mike Putman:

[3:47] And by the way, that is over Dean’s shoulder for those of you who watched the video, that is a peacock.

I was just going to.

Nathaniel DeSantis:

[3:58] Comment you can see it moving around right behind you like ducking there he is.

Mike Putman:

[4:06] I’m telling you Dean’s quite an interesting character and the collection of birds is only part of it, alright Dean so you moved down to the south of France and your cousin is working on these yachts and do you get a job doing that?

Dean Curbishley:

[4:23] Well, I actually took the bus from my hometown all the way to the south of France, 30 hours on the bus, you know, with a backpack.

And my cousin told me, you know, just walk into this bar in this small town called Villefranche-sur-Mer, but that’s got a lot of history as well, that town.

That’s actually where the Rolling Stones lived in the 70s.

My cousin told me to walk into this bar and ask for this particular guy, and he would, because he was away on the boat, he would be back in a few days, you know so i walk into the bar i asked for this guy his nickname was oggy, so turns out he’s sitting right next to me and he has absolutely no idea that i was coming, my cousin told me i could i was i could happily stay at his house at oggy’s house until he returned but the guy knew nothing of me you know know anyway he let me stay and eventually my cousin showed up and then i mean he took me down to this other small town called on tebes in the south of france where his boat was in port, uh worked on worked on his boat you know lived on the boat and done a lot of that a lot of work on it during the winter during the off season.

Mike Putman:

[5:39] All right. Yeah. So, so for our listeners who don’t know, um, that area of the South of France connects to Monte Carlo and, um, all the big yachts go to Antibes because they’re too big to get into the heart, the, the Harbor.

You’ve called a Harbor, I guess, of Monte Carlo, right?

Dean Curbishley:

[5:58] Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[5:59] So, so, so the big, uh, the, the big, what I would refer to as super yachts.

I don’t know if that’s the correct term, but the really big ones are there in Antibes.

Dean Curbishley:

[6:09] Yeah exactly yeah so yeah you know that was interesting time and then uh um that job kind of came to an end and um i was off i worked actually worked for a marine electronics company, uh that were based out of saint laurent duvar which is between bonti and nice and uh worked for them for a couple of years, and i was just installing marine electronics and all the super yachts you know and um Um, then they decided they were going to close down and, um, you know, I got a job with a friend of mine gave me a job laboring on a construction site in Bill, in Villefranche, but high up on the mountain, you know, overlooking Villefranche.

I worked there for a number of years. And, um, so one day, uh, we were getting paid cash to work there.

Um, cash on a Friday, you know, uh, one time, uh, French customs came, and most people ran away. A couple of us got caught.

Anyway, we managed to evade the police and the customs, and they closed down the construction site for a couple of weeks, and there was 30 of us working there, and they decided they were only going to keep 10.

[7:31] And the guy that was running the job, he was actually American from California, and uh he never let on but he after after we uh they established a company and we’re you know paying taxes and working there he actually um told us the truth that it was we’re actually building tina turner’s villa oh boy yeah you had.

Mike Putman:

[7:53] No idea at the time huh.

Dean Curbishley:

[7:54] Absolutely no idea no no um no he didn’t let on at all you know so anyway this that we and i ended up staying in there for eight years you know constructing the villa you.

Mike Putman:

[8:07] Were you worked on the villa for eight years.

Dean Curbishley:

[8:09] Eight years yeah and for the last i’ll say the last three to four years tina trying to live there with us and helped us around you know around the place so you actually just said, you lived at the villa too no i didn’t live at the villa no no no but.

Mike Putman:

[8:28] You were living in that.

Dean Curbishley:

[8:29] Once it was sort of at a phase where it was livable, she moved in.

And, of course, it took a long time because we would completely finish rooms.

And then she would decide she wanted something else. She would rip it out and do something else in that particular room. It was like a hobby for her.

Mike Putman:

[8:49] Yeah.

Dean Curbishley:

[8:50] Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[8:51] So did she spend a lot of time there? Was she traveling around?

Dean Curbishley:

[8:54] No, she spent all of her time there. Yeah. Very rarely left the villa.

I would leave the villa with her.

She had a lot of furniture that came into a storage facility nearby.

Um, from various houses she sold around the world. And, um, we would go down there with her, bring the containers out, put them in a large circle in the parking lot.

So people couldn’t see her, you know, and, um, she would go through the container, the shipping containers and choose items that she wanted to bring to the villa.

You know, you probably do that once a week for a long time, you know?

Mike Putman:

[9:29] Oh, once a week.

Dean Curbishley:

[9:30] Oh yeah. Yes.

Yeah. Yeah. So that was an extremely interesting time in my life, you know?

Mike Putman:

[9:39] Yeah, yeah. And how did you get along with the kind of getting into the French culture while you were there?

Dean Curbishley:

[9:47] Well, initially, I couldn’t speak any French, you know?

But by the end of it, I’d been there 16 years. I can’t, you know, as time went along, you pick up more and more, you know?

The French culture, completely different culture. I absolutely loved my time there and I still have many, many French friends.

Mike Putman:

[10:10] Very good. Very good. Were there other things you did in the south of France?

Or did you kind of work at the villa until you left?

Dean Curbishley:

[10:23] Once I left the villa, moved back to the UK, to London, actually into North London. and I worked for a French telecommunications company called Alcatel.

I was testing the optical fiber transatlantic terminal equipment, the terminal equipment that connected to the optical fibers and done that for a little while.

And then I got offered a job, a refit on a super yacht, if you like, a 68-meter boat down in Portsmouth on the south coast.

I went down there for an interview and spoke to the captain.

He happened to be from a village that was 10 miles from where I grew up.

[11:08] So he gave me the job as the electrical and electronic engineer because the owner, who was Sir Bernard Ashley from the Law Ashley Company, he purchased a decommissioned Dutch pilot ship from the Dutch Navy, and we converted it into a luxurious yacht.

So basically my job was to manage all of the electrical and electronic installations.

But we took every wire out of the boat and put new ones in, rebuilt the wheelhouse.

I probably had about 35 electricians and 10 technicians.

It took a period of 18 months. Completely changed every wire in the boat.

Even had a CAD designer to design the wheelhouse. I selected all the instruments, placed them all.

It was the biggest job I’ve ever had. you know now when the captain gave me that job you know i felt uneasy about it you know, that so you know the plan wasn’t for me to go sailing with it but once once we completed the refit um they offered me a job as a second engineer which only made sense because i knew the boat inside out electrically electronically you know right.

Mike Putman:

[12:23] Yeah so so you set sail on this uh uh, so that’s about a 220 foot yacht.

Dean Curbishley:

[12:30] Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[12:31] That’s a big one.

Dean Curbishley:

[12:32] Yeah. So off we went, um, yeah.

So Ron and Ashley’s wife, Laura, actually, actually had an accident and passed away and he wrote remarried and his new wife, um, wanted to go looking for seashells around the Caribbean for two years.

So, you know, we had over a 200-foot yacht.

We had a jet helicopter that was worth more than the yacht on board.

A 16 crew.

First of all, we went to the Channel Islands, and then we went down into the Mediterranean a little bit, went to Gibraltar.

Then we went across the Atlantic stopping in the Azores in Horta in the Azores then we went straight across the Atlantic and our first stop was, where was it I believe it was Antigua yeah went up and down the Caribbean island chain for two years even stopping at uninhabited islands looking for seashells because the boss’s wife loved to make collages with them.

Mike Putman:

[13:45] Those were some expensive collages, just the cost of fuel.

Dean Curbishley:

[13:48] Yeah, I mean, you should have seen some of the shells we found.

Especially on the uninhabited islands, you know?

Mike Putman:

[13:57] Yeah. So you did that for two years. Was there a break in that at any time?

Did you get to fly back home?

Dean Curbishley:

[14:04] Oh, yeah. One time we came right up to Miami for a little while.

I took some breaks there. I’ve met a, I’ve met a girl, which I ended up being my wife and, uh, she was on another boat and, uh, she was down in, uh, Aruba.

So, uh, I took a short vacation and flew down there.

And then we went back down through the Caribbean and then back across the Atlantic.

We stopped in Falmouth in Cornwall. It was our first stop.

Well, actually, we stopped in the Azores as well on the way back.

But most boats across the Atlantic, they’ll stop in the Azores, you know, just for a break, you know.

Yeah. And then, yeah, back to Falmouth in England.

And then we came around the English coast a little bit.

All of our friends and family were invited onto the ship um we’re just anchored off the south just not far from where i grew up you know dean.

Mike Putman:

[15:06] During your travels i mean uh you you had you went to all these exotic locations um was there was there like a common thing that you found among people i mean getting to interact with all those different cultures was there something been you know like a common thread that you saw through all these people or but.

Dean Curbishley:

[15:26] Throughout the caribbean i mean yeah obviously there’s there’s still some british islands there and a lot that were british that are independent now some that their own entity i mean but all the people were wonderful everywhere we went you know i mean you went to some very uh poverous islands you know as well you know but people were generally wonderful you know yeah uh in fact i met i met met friends down there that i still go down to visit now and sometimes they come to visit me yeah yeah yeah in fact i’ve just been back to saint vincent recently, the grenadines grenadines is probably my favorite part of the caribbean yeah why.

Mike Putman:

[16:06] Why is that why is the grenadines your favorite well.

Dean Curbishley:

[16:09] I call it like untouched paradise you know it’s not as commercialized as the rest of the caribbean uh saint vincent where they made made one of the Pirates of the Caribbean film.

Since then, I’ve been back actually to work on the island. For many years, the ship they used, the Black Pearl, was still in the harbor.

Just being back this time, I notice it’s gone.

Mike Putman:

[16:34] Oh, yeah.

Tell our listeners what you do today.

Dean Curbishley:

[16:42] Well, what did you know? I’ve lived in the United States now for 22 years.

So I’ve got a small business, and we do industrial metal detection in food processing, textile, and pharmaceutical industries.

So we have around eight employees and three techs that travel all around the country.

Sometimes we go abroad. We go into food processing facilities, service and calibrate their industrial metal detectors.

So customers are looking for metal contaminants in the food before it’s sent out in the supermarket.

And sometimes that could be the finished item or it could be, you know, you’re metal detecting a truckload of flour or rice or an ingredient.

Yeah. Or pharmaceuticals or every pill is checked for metal contaminants, you know, in the textile industry, it’s anything from carpet plants to anything.

I mean, you can imagine the uses there are, you know, if you start thinking about it, metal detection is everywhere, you know?

Mike Putman:

[17:50] Yeah, I can imagine putting on a nice sweater and having a scrap piece of metal in it.

Dean Curbishley:

[17:55] Exactly. They have multitactors that specifically look for needles in clothing. Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[18:02] Well, that is quite an interesting line of business.

Through the years, did you stay in touch with Tina Turner after you left?

Dean Curbishley:

[18:12] Not her personally because I worked with her day in, day out, But her personal assistant, I would work with every day.

Her name was Rhonda Graham. And sadly, she passed away last year, actually.

She devoted her whole life to TNR. And once the villa was complete, Rhonda went back to live in California.

When I was out there working, I’d always stop by and see her.

I’d send her an email once a year.

Last year, I sent her an email and no reply. I thought, that’s a bit odd.

So i just googled her name and i i realized she passed away yeah.

Mike Putman:

[18:49] I’m sorry to hear that um, so and dean also are there any must-dos in the south france that our listeners you know is there a restaurant they should go to is there anything off the beaten path that you could suggest after living like.

Dean Curbishley:

[19:08] If you like seafood the best seafood restaurant i’ve ever been to is the uh cafe de your terrain in Nice.

That’s absolutely a must.

Mike Putman:

[19:19] Are there any things to do? I mean, of course, there are a lot of things to do, but are there any things to do that you can think of as someone that lived down there that somebody going in as a tourist might not think about doing?

Dean Curbishley:

[19:33] Well, they’ve got a very convenient train system right along the coast, you know?

So you could jump on the trains, you know, you’d be in Monte Carlo in 10 minutes from Nice, you know? Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[19:46] Of course and then you can take the train on eastward and be in italy and another 10 or oh yeah yeah.

Dean Curbishley:

[19:51] Italy italy’s right there too you know there’s there’s a market in ventimiglia in italy which is very popular you jump on the train you’re there in 45 minutes you know.

Mike Putman:

[20:00] Yeah so for people wanting to go to south france i mean there’s of course there’s lots of coastal cities centrape and yeah nice and cans can and uh but you can fly there’s an airport right at nice uh which is right Right on the water, too, I believe.

Dean Curbishley:

[20:17] Oh, yeah, it’s right on the water. Yeah.

Mike Putman:

[20:18] Yeah. And from there, you could stay in Nice.

You could go west to Saint-Tropez or Cannes, or you could, you know, take some day trips into Monte Carlo.

I love Monte Carlo personally, as long as somebody else is paying for it.

It’s dreadfully expensive.

But you could go there and go to, you know, some of my friends went to Italy for lunch and then came back.

Dean Curbishley:

[20:43] Oh, yeah. No, all the time. Also, you could be skiing in an hour in the winter, because, of course, it’s right on the outmaritimes.

So, yeah, jump in a car, you could be in a set of skis in an hour. Wow.

Mike Putman:

[21:00] Yeah. Certainly a beautiful part of the world, and I certainly understand why there’s such a love for traveling to the south of France as well.

Well, Dean, thanks so much for your time today. day thanks for joining no tourists allowed and i’m sure our listeners really enjoyed hearing a little bit about your story and your travels around the world um it’s uh it’s been really enlightening i’ve learned a thing or two about you and i’ve known you for quite some time so uh, thanks for being on the show and thank you very much look forward to having you again soon it’s.

Dean Curbishley:

[21:32] A pleasure thanks very much.

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