Captains’ Club Spotlight: Capt. Jeff Ridgway of M/Y Ingot

3 February 2023 By Lauren Beck
Courtesy of Jeff Ridgway

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 150 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. Jeff Ridgway on a 46-meter Burger as he shares his path into yachting, plus his top crew issue and tips for captains. 

How did you end up getting into yachting?

I worked at Hance & Smythe Marine in Manahawkin, New Jersey, after graduating from high school in 1978. We launched small boats in the spring, hauled boats in the fall, and did various storage and maintenance projects throughout the year. After some cold New Jersey winters and chilly winter surfing sessions, I decided to look for a job that would give me access to a more tropical climate all year around. I completed a four-month course at the Chapman School of Seamanship in Palm City, Florida, and started a job as a deckhand on an 80-foot motor yacht in April of 1981. That was my start in this business — 41 years later and I still love the business.

Capt. Jeff Ridgway

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

Before I even realized that yachting was a true career option, I studied business management and then electronics technology so I suppose that I would have found a career in the electronics or computer business. I think that my career would have still gravitated towards  the beach and boating.

Where is your favorite destination for cruising?    

I still love cruising in The Bahamas. It has changed a lot over the years with superyachts now filling anchorages once populated with smaller cruising sailboats and “ex-pats,” but I still love the beautiful water and the great people.

Where is still on your yachting bucket list?

Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and all through Asia (big bucket list).

Where is your top spot for snorkeling/diving?

I have not had the opportunity to dive the world’s remote and exotic dive spots like many of my good friends in this business. I consider myself a novice when it comes to scuba diving but, again, I love the clear, calm waters of The Bahamas. I have snorkeled and dived on the beautiful reefs along the Exuma Island chain and in the Abacos and I always enjoy the scenery and the wildlife.

If marooned, which crewmember would you want with you?    

I would either prefer to be marooned by myself knowing that my crewmates were searching for me and a fun reunion was in the works or I would like to have my entire crew with me. My crew from my various assignments during 41 years of yachting have become my second family and they are very creative and ingenious so I am sure that, between our various skills and interests, we could create quite the pleasant deserted-island lifestyle as we wait for “rescue.”

What has been your most memorable moment on board?

The first one that comes to mind is the completion of my first Atlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale to Monaco. I was in command of a 45-meter motor yacht with a great crew and I received a lot of great advice and guidance from the full-time captain of the vessel, Capt. Len Beck, a true world-cruising yachtsman.

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

We try to present as many options as the weather allows. If we are confined to the interior spaces, the options may include the crew playing games with the kids, special theme drinks and meals, movie day/night, and board games.

Biggest crew challenge you deal with?

Keeping crew morale high and keeping everyone content and motivated is a full-time job and it is crucial to a well-run vessel.

What is your one top tip for other captains?

Communicating effectively, respectfully, and professionally is key to making an operation perform to its highest potential. I consider “listening” a crucial element of communication. Most of my memories of “communication breakdowns” usually involve poor listening skills on my part. Keep [it] flowing!

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

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