Captains’ Club Spotlight: Capt. Brad Baker of M/Y Rena

14 February 2023 By Lauren Beck
M/Y Rena
Capt. Brad Baker

Lauren Beck is the former editor of Dockwalk and was with the publication from 2006 to 2023. At 13, she left South Africa aboard a 34-foot sailing boat with her family and ended up in St. Maarten for six years. Before college, she worked as crew for a year, and then cut her journalistic teeth at Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal online. She loves traveling, reading, tennis, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

The BOAT International Captains’ Club welcomes more than 160 superyacht captains in its ranks. The idea behind the club is to help facilitate contact and the exchange of information and experiences for superyacht captains. This issue’s Q&A features Capt. Brad Baker on a145-foot NQEA as he shares about his time living in the Great Barrier Reef, his love for Alaska, plus his top crew issue and tips for captains.

How did you get into yachting?

I was an obsessively keen fisherman and scuba diver in Australia in the 80s and 90s, spending all my spare time and money in and around salt water. In the mid-90s, I decided to make a conscious effort to reverse my lifestyle to make a living from my aquatic pursuits and spend my spare time on land. I managed a yacht club in Cairns for a few years, which made the final transition an easy one. I never looked back. Starting out as a mate on the sportsfishing charter motherships on the Great Barrier Reef, the writing was on the wall to head overseas after a few years and chase the yachting lifestyle. A six-month discovery tour in the United States turned into 22 years and is still going strong.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a captain?   

I’d probably be a grumpy, burned-out bar or restaurant owner somewhere near a good surf break in Queensland.

Where is your favorite destination for cruising?   

As an avid photographer, it would be hard to beat Alaska. The scenery is overwhelming, and you can still find a stunning bay all to yourself while you keep an eye out for the amazing wildlife both on land and water.

Where is still on your yachting bucket list?

The Norwegian Fjords, Galapagos Islands, and the South Pacific remain at the top of the list. However, the more destinations I check off, the more I discover and want to do!

Where is your top spot for snorkeling/diving?

I was lucky enough to do a seven-month cruise from Sydney to Florida via the Marianas, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Hawaii about 15 years ago. The owners were avid divers, and we dived at every opportunity. The area is so remote and therefore rich in sea life, corals, and endless wrecks and relics from WW2. In my earlier career, I lived and worked on the Great Barrier Reef for about five years, so the more remote parts of the reef that we frequented are unbeatable and pristine.

If marooned, which crewmember would you want with you?   

Probably the engineer. I could manage to hunt and cook okay, but I would need someone with a mind for infrastructure. Engineers also generally don’t talk your ear off. In any case, I’m sure my wife wouldn't be too happy if I said a stewardess. She may also question my ability to cook.

What has been your most memorable moment on board?

A bad one of note was having a 35-degree locked rudder in 15-foot seas at night off Colombia a few years back. That didn’t tickle me too much. We figured it out and somehow didn’t even lose the tow tender. I’ll generalize the good with the many memories of being privileged enough to share some cocktails and good conversation with some very successful people on the aft deck. So much can be learned by listening to their stories.

What’s your best trick for guests if the weather is poor?

Make sure the media server is working well and the Wi-Fi data is flowing freely. Then have the chef fatten them up while the stews make the fanciest cocktails they can come up with. A good, themed dinner party should keep them up late too. Then the minute the weather allows, hit the ground running and get everyone outside.

Biggest crew challenge you deal with as captain?

Most of the crew I have worked with are hardworking and capable and I am forever thankful to them for all of the great cruising successes, memories, and friendships. When it comes to peace keeping and conflict resolution, it’s a matter of when to get involved and to what extent.

What is your one top tip for other captains?

The industry is constantly evolving and so must we. Adjust your management style and product knowledge to the times we live in while still maintaining the best principles you learned from your captains back in your junior years.

This article was originally featured in the August 2022 issue of Dockwalk.

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