Captains' Club Spotlight: Capt. Mark Jones of M/Y C Star

6 July 2023 By Lauren Beck
Chief Stew Kirsty, Sous Chef Sari, Chief Engineer Luis, Stew Brittany, Bosun Jose, Deckhands Seth and Jeandre, First Officer Antony, Capt. Mark, Chef Jaffa, and Second Engineer Kamil

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. Mark Jones, who shares his journey into yachting, his most memorable moment on board, plus his top captain tip.

How did you get into yachting?

I started sailing when I was six and enjoyed the sea throughout my childhood, advancing to Watersport/Powerboat instructor. But it wasn’t until a work experience on board a 61-meter Tallship at 16 that I embraced my first night at sea. I knew then that I needed to work and sleep at sea. Initially, my plan was to join the British Royal Navy, but that quickly shifted to my desire to work on yachts once I became more aware of the industry. As soon as I joined my first yacht, I proceeded to advance my training to become captain of charter-heavy M/Y Broadwater at 30.

What would you do if you weren’t a captain?

Helping others has been a core characteristic of mine. I joined the UK Royal National Lifeboat Institution when I was a teenager and took great pride in helping those in distress at sea. Had  I grown up in the U.S. where I currently live,  joining the U.S. Coast Guard would likely have been my chosen path and, more specifically, the role of a rescue swimmer.

Where is your top spot for diving?

For scuba diving, I’ve had amazing dives in the Maldives and Egypt, but since taking up freediving and spearfishing, The Bahamas  has been a successful location in achieving deeper, clear waters with a variety of fish to  catch. A dream would be to spear a tuna!

What’s your favorite cruising destination?

The Bahamas have always been a favorite destination for charter clients. There is nearly anything guests might request within a short distance. From high-end restaurants and resorts on Nassau, to secluded private beaches in the Exumas and fishing offshore, the Bahamas really does have everything. The weather protection it can offer is a bonus along with shore/water activities for all ages.

Where is still on your yachting bucket list?

To sail into the Pacific and continue to circumnavigate the globe into the Indian Ocean would be a dream.

What’s been your most memorable moment?

I met my wife while working on my second yacht, and the long-term friends I have made throughout my career have been really incredible. Knowing you’re sailing to a destination with a friend in port gives life to a somewhat miserable day of dealing with outrageous guest requests. My wife now works in a shore-based role within the industry  and is home with our three children, so having crew that I consider friends helps ease the distance of being away from my family when I am working.

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

Having a large supply of alcohol or games on board – preferably utilizing both! Olympic-style competitive team games can absorb an hour or two while guests forget about the weather outside, or I aim to get the guests involved with a pizza-making class, karaoke, or dress-up theme nights or afternoons, such as a murder mystery. I also love to host trivia games and they tend to be a hit!

What has been your biggest crew challenge?

Finding professional crew who want to gain longevity. Junior crew are so willing to step off a yacht after a season or two with their charter tips in their pocket, which leaves the HODs and captain having to rehire and retrain new crew to the program’s standards. You need your solid HOD core – which can only succeed with a rotation – to train them on your yacht-specific procedures, which I believe is a four- to six-month process. Every team member is important to a successful program, so even junior crew coming and going impacts a program.

What is your top tip for other captains?

Communication. Communication with the owner, contractors, agents, and most importantly your crew. Don’t feel the need to hold information for power, but rather share what you can, so those you have brought into your inner circle can discuss and plan any activities, yard periods, trips that may be upcoming, etc. We hire HODs to run their departments, but I see so many times captains limit the HOD’s chances of succeeding by not sharing information and expecting them to  react and solve last-minute challenges.

This article was originally published in the April 2023 issue of Dockwalk.

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