The BOAT International Captains’ Club welcomes more than 120 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. James Johnson on a 43-meter Sanlorenzo as he shares his yachting story, his almost career, plus his top crew issue and tip for captains.
How did you end up becoming a captain/getting into yachting?
I was a keen sailor from an early age, gaining most of my experience through the Sea Cadets. By the time I was 15, most of my weekends were spent sailing, either teaching or racing. I used to see large yachts in all the yachting magazines and knew that it was what I wanted to do for a career. At 18, I completed my courses and got my first job in the industry as a deckhand.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a captain?
My other big passion when I was growing up was playing the drums and I was seriously contemplating pursuing it professionally. But it got to the point where I had to choose one or the other and the sailing took over.
Where is your favorite destination for cruising?
The Yasawa Group of islands in Fiji would have to be right up there as one of my favorite cruising grounds — it’s so remote and peaceful and there are so many different islands that you can hop between and explore. The diving there is also some of the best I’ve ever done —
we did an incredible dive with some bull sharks and it’s an experience I’ll never forget.
Where is still on your yachting bucket list?
I would love to cruise Indonesia — I’ve heard great things and it’s a part of the world I haven’t been to yet.
Where is your top spot for snorkeling/diving?
Aside from Fiji, we did some fantastic dives in the Tuamotus, a French Polynesian chain of islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, with remote atolls and an abundance of sea life.
If you were marooned on a desert island, which crewmember would you want with you? I would probably want the engineer with me — he’s very practical and used to be a fisherman. He’s also a very good guitarist, so he could provide the entertainment around the campfire!
What is your best trick for keeping guests entertained when the weather is poor?
We always try to plan the itinerary to avoid bad weather, but if that’s not possible, then finding interesting excursions ashore is key.
What has been your most memorable moment on board?
Cruising up the fjords in Patagonia, dodging icebergs, and feeling like we were at the farthest possible point away from civilization.
Biggest crew challenge you deal with as captain?
The peak of the pandemic was one of the most difficult times I’ve experienced as captain. Keeping the crew motivated and ensuring their wellbeing during an unprecedented and unknown time was a massive challenge.
What is your one top tip for other captains?
Always remember that it takes a long time to build someone’s trust, but that trust can be lost in an instant.
This article was originally featured in the April 2022 issue of Dockwalk.
For more featured captains: