Captains’ Club Spotlight: Capt. Gavin George Hurn of M/Y Hospitality

15 May 2023 By Lauren Beck

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. Gavin George Hurn on a 164-foot Westport as he shares his favorite cruising destinations, his best experience on board, plus his top crew issue and tip.

How did you end up becoming a captain/getting into yachting?

I had been out in Barbados and Antigua teaching children high-performance windsurfing/sailing and on the weekends teaching Day Skipper and Coastal Skipper courses to clients looking to rent bareboats for charters with Sunsail for about a year and half. I was given the opportunity to join a yacht racing in the Antigua Classic Regatta in 2004; while on board I was talking to some other crew, one of which was the captain on Magdalus Terzo, and he offered me the chance to cross the Atlantic, which had always been a dream of mine. I joined the industry in 2004 on S/Y Magdalus Terzo, a 36-meter Ortona Navi, as deckhand in St. Maarten. As we crossed, the first mate resigned, and I was offered the opportunity to step up and run as first mate for the Mediterranean season.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a captain?
I left school at 17 and was offered an internship with an interior design company called Clive Christian in Edinburgh, where I worked for about two years. I loved being part of the whole design team and the creation of these fabulous kitchens and bathrooms. The owner of the company approached me and suggested taking a year to go sailing before committing full time, and I am still out exploring the world to this day.

Where is your favorite destination for cruising?
In Europe, I think Croatia still has something amazingly special that you can pull up and tie up stern-to the rocks and have guests swim ashore. In the Caribbean, I was very lucky that in one of the earlier years of yachting, I got the opportunity to explore Venezuela, and got to the outer islands, like Los Roques, and sailed on through into the ABC islands and down into South America.

Where is still on your yachting bucket list?

I would love to do the Northern Passage. I have always had a dream of doing it.

Where is your top spot for snorkeling/diving?

I still think one of the most untouched places is Conception Island in The Bahamas. It’s beautiful.

What is your best trick for keeping guests entertained when the weather is poor?

Get creative. Pull out the board games, the cards, puzzles, karaoke, quizzes. The wonderful thing is we have great Internet these days, too.

What has been your most memorable moment on board?

I’ve had several, but there’s one moment that really stuck. It was before I was a captain, but we had a very famous singer on board and this person would come down and chill on the swim platform with a guitar and just sing. That’s always been a memory of mine — just having such an amazing idol that you’ve always thought a lot of to be on board for several weeks and just be amazing.

Biggest crew challenge you deal with as captain?

I think one of the biggest challenges with day-to-day crew is keeping a happy vibe on board — finding the balance that allows you to be a captain that’s liked and appreciated by the crew, but they still look up to you as a leader. It can also be hard to choose the right crew. I’ve been very lucky and I’ve had all my heads of department with me for more than five years.

What is your one top tip for other captains?

Manage your money wisely. I wish I had followed the advice from my first captain, but I followed it later in life. Take a percentage of your money and live off that. The rest should be put into savings and try at the end of every year or two to be buying a property.

This article originally ran in the October 2022 issue of Dockwalk.

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