Profiles

Captains’ Club: Capt. Mark O’Connell of 62m Lumiere

6 December 2021By Lauren Beck
Getty Images: ReynaldyMuhammad

Written by

Lauren Beck

Editor Lauren Beck has been with Dockwalk since 2006. 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. Email her at lauren@dockwalk.com.

The BOAT International Captains’ Club now welcomes more than 100 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 a 80-meter Nobiskrug as he shares his yachting history, top bucket list destination, plus his top crew issue and tip for captains.

Capt. Mark O'Connell

How did you end up becoming a captain?

I got press ganged by several of my friends back in the UK to go sailing with them and found a new career by accident. I stress fractured my spine skydiving and was discharged from the Parachute Regiment, so it was a big change to end up in the yachting industry and [start] working my way up the ladder to become a captain.

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

A professional photographer. I was taught photography by the Royal Air Force as part of my security work, but lost interest after leaving the Parachute Regiment. I got the passion back again during a round-the-world trip. We stopped in Madagascar, [and] it was so beautiful I asked to borrow the boss’s camera and he was so impressed with what I was producing, he asked me to take all his vacation photos.

Favorite cruising destination?

Asia is so special with a photograph around every corner and the diving is out of this world. Indonesia is one very special place with places like Bali, Komodo, and Raja Ampat. I live in the Philippines, 15 minutes from some of the best diving in the area, so I am very lucky.

Getti Images: Photogilio

What destination is still on your bucket list?

South America, as I have always been fascinated by the history there in regard to the Mayans and Inca tribes, plus it is so diverse compared to Europe. The Rio Carnival is a must for me, and I hope to do it sooner than later.

Favorite place for diving?

Rangiroa is one of the world’s greatest destinations for scuba diving.

If you were marooned on a desert island, which crewmember would you want with you?

I should say the chief stew, but in reality, the chief engineer’s skills would be very handy for survival.

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

Dress up and have a theme party — it always works.

Most memorable moment on board?

The death of my second engineer from a heart attack mid-season.

Biggest crew challenge you deal with as captain?

Crew have no understanding of the chain of command anymore. There needs to be more onboard training in regard to discipline and understanding of what is required from each position on board. There can be no situation where crewmembers approach the owner or guests about any issue they may have with their head of department without speaking with the captain.

What is your one top tip for other captains?

The fundamental key to building trust among crew and guests alike is always telling the truth to the owner and charter guests. It builds and maintains trust. And what leader can lead without the complete trust of his employees and charter guests alike?

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 captainsclub@boatinternationalmedia.com.

For more related content:

Captains’ Club: Capt. Christopher Walsh of 68m M/Y Archimedes

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