Having worked in the superyacht industry since 1978, and on a variety of different boats, Captain Ian Van der Watt of 43m MV Copasetic has found his home on expedition yachts. In a preview to issue 71, we speak to the captain about his passion for working on such a unique vessel, which brings with it a unique owner.

Working on board Copasetic has granted Captain Ian Van der Watt and his crew the incredible chance to work on a vessel capable of extended world travel, to visit destinations where most superyachts would not dare to go. The yacht’s extensive itinerary, which has included Alaska, the Great Lakes and, most recently, a groundbreaking research expedition off the coast of Florida, has been made possible by the boat’s unusual but efficient design. Copasetic, verging on a similar appearance and calibre to that of a commercial vessel, was designed and built with exploration and adventure at the forefront of the project, and this, Captain Van der Watt explains, is what makes his role all the more enjoyable.

Captain Ian Van der Watt at the helm of Copasetic

“When you are travelling to far-off countries, you want to be on something that is inconspicuous,” Captain Van der Watt explains. “There are no marinas in the majority of these remote places, so you are mainly going to be in a commercial shipping port. If you arrive on a superyacht, you immediately stand out because you are like the shiny pin in the harbour. But coming in on a yacht like Copasetic, we can easily be mistaken for a research vessel. The locals and other boats will ignore you because we are just another commercial vessel to them, so you don’t have the security issues other vessels may have to deal with.”

In the initial planning of Copasetic, due to a background in chemical engineering, the owner had the vision that he would like to cruise around the world and conduct scientific research on board. “Such research would involve having a container on the vessel to carry all the equipment necessary, so in the planning stages a Peck and Hale container securing system was incorporated,” says Captain Van der Watt.

“When you are travelling to far-off countries, you want to be on something that is inconspicuous."

Behind such a unique and carefully planned yacht is a certain type of yacht owner, and this adds another advantageous element to Captain Van der Watt’s role as captain. “Our owner has been in boating for a long time and is very knowledgeable, which makes it much easier to deal with travel and maintenance decisions, versus the conflict of the captain having to make decisions alone that may not be agreeable to the owner or guests,” he explains. “For example, he understands that you have to leave with tide and that you can’t just leave on a whim, he understands that it is better to wait an extra day for favourable weather to make the voyage more comfortable and, when dealing with a mechanical breakdown, he understands exactly how the systems work, what makes them function, how you would go about repairing them and the cost involved. It is a lot easier for me to work with someone like that because he understands.”

The full interview with Captain Ian Van der Watt can be found in issue 71 of The Crew Report - click here to download.