In the lead up to the start of a new year, The Crew Report takes a look back at our coverage of the superyacht crew sector in 2014. Here, we recollect some of the prominent superyacht captains we have interviewed during the year.

Built for purpose

Launched in February 2012, Safira made her maiden voyage to Greenland for an owner trip and charter. We spoke to Captain Walter Wetmore about the rigorous planning and considerations that he and his crew had to undertake due to the remoteness of the destination and length of the trip.

Safira in Greenland

Safira’s trip to Greenland was planned before her keel was laid and as such had to be taken into account in each facet of design on board, something with which Captain Walter Wetmore was heavily involved to ensure the new build was able to endure the voyage. “The Greenland trip was the intention of the boat all the while it was being planned, designed and built,” he explains. “We started planning it when we were building the boat, to make her capable to do these things. We wanted reinforced steel, we wanted the ability to refrigerate and freeze food long enough so we would have the capability to stay away from the dock for maybe six or seven weeks. So we thought about these things when we were building the boat.

Captain Wetmore’s significant involvement in the shipyard and design phase made a crucial impact on the success of the yacht’s suitability for such a trip, and this is something that he strongly recommends. “If you have a captain with good experience and the owner and the captain trust each other and work well together, the cooperation of the owner with his captain or design team is priceless. Read the online coverage in full here.

Keeping up with the Mitchells

Captains Brian and Sue Mitchell, also qualified Y3 engineers, have been working permanently as a crew couple since 1984. Their work has taken them on board several superyachts, including 30m Lia Fail, 30m Summer Suite, 37m Argusea and, most recently, 40m Aqualibrium. We spoke to the couple about their individual and collective success in this industry and the conflict that surrounds couples in yachting.

Captains Brian and Sue Mitchell

“Over many years, yachts’ crews have changed from the earlier Spartan-type yacht crewed only by men, to the very modern superyachts of today that have been built to accommodate a unisex crew. This has comfortably allowed couples to enter the industry without prejudice,” says Brian. “But to be able to qualify these people is difficult, particularly with green teams who may have only recently become attached. A short time into their life on board, one likes it and the other doesn’t, maybe their own relationship fails or maybe the job or situation changes to cause upset. Unfortunately there is no crystal ball and people do leave, causing loss of time and training costs. This does cause disruption and extra work for others while the couple is replaced, which can create a negative attitude, especially when losing two people from a small crew. Naturally enough, a mindset or attitude begins and is a consideration when employing couples.” Read the full online coverage here.

In it for the long haul

The superyacht industry craves crew longevity, but there tends to be an expectation that crew should change boats every couple of years in order to optimise their experience and vary their knowledge. In contrast to this notion, Captain Ben Chaplin has worked on board 38.6m motoryacht Katrion since he started in the industry as a deckhand 11 years ago. We caught up with him to discuss the pros and cons to this fairly unique career path for the industry.

Captain Ben Chaplin as a deckhand

With this kind of longevity fairly unheard of in the world of superyacht crew, it is interesting to learn about some of the reasons behind his career choices along the way. “As mate, before I stepped up to being captain, I did have a few thoughts about whether or not I should move on to get a bit more experience on bigger boats, charter boats and maybe even sailing boats,” he admits. “But then a few people stated that if I stayed my loyalty would be rewarded.”

Having now had three-and-a-half years in the role of captain and looking back on his experience, Captain Chaplin does not regret his decision to stay on Katrion. “I believe that there could have been advantages for me to move on, but on the other hand I was lucky to be offered the opportunity to become captain after about seven years in the industry,” he explains. “It is a different experience. I could have gone on to be mate on another boat but as captain I have total responsibility and more interaction with the owner as well as with the higher-level personnel in our management company.” Read the full online coverage here.

A true classic

Steeped in heritage and tradition, classic yachts can involve very different duties of care compared with a modern yacht and require a special work ethic from their crew. We spoke to Captain Paul Goss, who has been captain on board 65m Adix for 23 years, about what it takes to work on board and the responsibility to preserve traditionalism that comes with it.

Captain Paul Goss on board Adix

"As managers, captains of both classic and modern boats share the same responsibilities and duty of care, but that is where the similarities 
probably end,” explains Captain Goss. “On any boat the style of management is driven by the expectations of the owner, so the skipper becomes the owner’s agent, so to
 speak. It is logical that owners of classics and modern boats are generally different by nature, so a captain will lean towards one or the other.

“We do try to maintain tradition aboard Adix. Failing to do so is a little like not worrying about English and maths at school. It is the basis of learning our craft, and it is the foundation that yachting extends from. It is not easy though: it hurts to hear a youngster use expressions like 'up the front', 'downstairs', 'a piece of string', etc. There is correct
 terminology for everything, and they need to be reminded. If it is a chore for them, they are probably better off looking somewhere else.” Read the full online coverage here.

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