In issue 15 of The Superyacht Owner, we speak to the owners of 43m expedition yacht Copasetic about their most recent adventure; hosting a group scientific researchers collecting genomes of sea creatures off the coast of Florida. Aside from having a keen interest in science, owner Steven Sablotsky was incredibly involved in the design process of his unique yacht, which helped to make the research expedition possible. Here, we speak to him about his priorities during the build and what he has learned from the enormous project.

43m expedition yacht Copasetic

TSO: What was on your priority list in the initial design stages of Copasetic?

It was multi-faceted; when I put the list together for the design criteria and the construction, I wanted a yacht that was rugged, that would be able to be independent and self-sufficient and I wanted it to be safe and stable like a commercial vessel. When you look at commercial vessels, you are not going to find many that are made of fibreglass or aluminium, so it was a basic that I wanted the hull to be steel and all the equipment to be rugged and commercial and also easily accessible.

TSO: How did this fit in with how you envisaged using Copasetic?

SS: The ability to anchor out was really important. We have some serious commercial windlasses – the same ones that are used by the Australia navy – and we have some serious ground tackle. We have had some really strong blows at anchor where I have watched other yachts rolling so much that the props were coming out of the water, but when you went inside Copasetic, you couldn’t tell there was a storm. We sat in the Bahamas for three days once due to a bad storm but it was nice. I enjoy it when you secure a spot and it is raining and stormy - for me it is a bit of excitement.

Another thing that was high priority was the crew accommodation because the crew have to be happy. I slept in all the crew bunks to make sure they were comfortable and the bulkheads aren’t teak but they are finished with nice wallpaper and veneer. The doors are all 1.75 inches thick so that when you close the door you can’t heart anything and they all have the same showers as the guest accommodation. We also have a great galley and lounge for a vessel of this size.

"I would like to see more experienced crew in the industry that are not just getting their licence but are having the actual experience of being on boats and handling boats."

TSO: It sounds like you really enjoyed being so involved with the project …

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was having the background in engineering and also having come from a career in the pharmaceutical industry. In the pharmaceutical industry you can work on something for ten years, so you never get that real excitement when you can see results. There is always something, there is always another study that has to form, but with Copasetic I saw the boat being launched, going into the water and on her maiden voyage – that was tremendously rewarding.

TSO: Now that Copasetic is up for sale, do you think you will return to the yachting industry in the future?

SS: If, in a couple of years, things change and I am not quite so busy then I will be back – you are not going to keep me off the water. But it will be on a classed, MCA-certified vessel. I don’t know what I would do differently with another boat, because I wouldn’t want to go larger. I would stay below the 500gt mark just because of all the regulations. It is not a complaint, the regulations are amazing, but for the five-year survey for class, we literally pulled out every screw, every pipe and every shaft, so it is a big undertaking.

Steven and Valery Sablotsky on the flybridge in Alaska.

TSO: Are regulations important to you?

Yes, being MCA certified is very important. You can be MCA compliant, some boats are, which means that you can read the regulations and say that you comply to it. But I mean having the MCA come in, do the survey, go through all the safety equipment, be involved with the design of the vessel right from the start and look at the impact stability, damage stability, handling, all the safety features and the list just goes on and on.

Plus then the requirement is that you have to have the crew that are going to document it when they go through all the weekly, monthly and yearly checks on a lot of the systems. I was challenging whether that is something I wanted to do, because it is quite an expense - the class certification is one thing but then MCA certification is another - but I am really glad I did it and I tell you what, I wouldn’t put my family on a boat if it wasn’t.

Also there is more discipline on the crew training side of things. I would like to see more experienced crew in the industry that are not just getting their licence but are having the actual experience of being on boats and handling boats. But this is coming and I can tell you that it has improved tremendously in the last five years.

Read issue 15 for the full interview with Steven and Valery Sablotsky, owners of Copasetic. Members can view the issue online now by clicking here and it will be widely distributed at FLIBS. To become a member and subscriber, click here.

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