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. Aaron Clark on 80-meter Nobiskrug M/Y Artefact as he shares his yachting history, top bucket list destination, plus his top crew issue and tip for captains.
How did you end up becoming a captain?
My father was a commercial fisherman and I worked for him until I was 18. Then I obtained my first captain’s license that covered up to 450 passengers and up to 1,500 horsepower as the engineer on board. I went to larger commercial coastal vessels, then high-speed ferries, then sailing boats, while upgrading my certification to be in command of larger vessels. Plus, I also did engineering certifications. I shifted my career into the superyacht sector in 1997 with my first new build.
Boat International has a place close to my heart, as when I was a child I would save money from mowing lawns and buy the magazine in NZ. It was expensive for a young boy from NZ making $2 per lawn, but worth every cent even if it took me five and a half lawns to buy one. I remember saying to my grandmother that I wanted to be a captain on a boat that was on the front page. I think it was Big Eagle and the article was on chartering in The Bahamas.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a captain?
Something that would still bring people together. My first choice would be a saxophonist — I play as a personal interest, and over the years, I’ve entertained guests on board or at sunset on a remote beach.
Favorite cruising destination?
Italy, as it has a lot to offer: a good cruising itinerary for guests, great history, a beautiful and interesting coastline, and the people are wonderful.
What destination is still on your bucket list?
Alaska for the scenery and wildlife.
Where is your top spot for snorkeling/diving?
BVIs due to the shelter and variety of both snorkeling and diving.
If you were marooned on a desert island, which crewmember would you want with you?
One of the engineers, as we would probably have a hydro-electric power plant up and running by the end of the first week.
What has been your most memorable moment on board?
You need to have a range of activities to enjoy and capitalize on prior to the inevitable bout of bad weather, so when it does happen, the guests can relax on board in a sheltered bay. Cooking lessons in the galley are always a hit during poor weather and tours ashore can also work well. The best memories are normally on the sunny days.
My best memory was on charter snorkeling with guests — a father and his child were suddenly surrounded by four turtles. Just a great family experience and that is what yachting is about: making great memories for guests and their family and friends.
Biggest crew challenge you deal with as captain?
The best way to deal with crew is to keep them busy with projection into their career and giving them what they require as individuals. This generally sorts the progressive ones out from the less progressive ones. There is no place on board for idle minds and people, as those ones normally create issues. When it is all about them, not the team, the product we are all here to deliver to the owners and their guests diminishes.
What is your one top tip for other captains?
Work hard and smart. Understand engineering, as the captain needs to know how his ship operates. If you’re starting out on a path to be captain, don’t worry about how much rotation you can get on a vessel; focus more on what you will learn to enhance your career.
The BOAT International Captains’ Club membership is currently open to active captains of sailing yachts longer than 30 meters LOA and motor yachts longer than 40 meters LOA. For more information about the Club and how to apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally ran in the January 2022 issue of Dockwalk.