Capt. James Kennedy rotates his captain’s role on the 75-meter Amels M/Y Lady E with Capt. Charles DuGas-Standish. Kennedy shares about working on her recent refit, including an extension and other upgrades...
Capt. James Kennedy grew up at Raumati Beach, a coastal town north of Wellington, New Zealand. He studied at Massey University and subsequently worked for a real estate consulting firm for five years before leaving New Zealand to travel throughout Asia and Europe. “This evolved into an extended stay in Asia before two ski seasons in the French Alps,” he says. “I joined my first yacht in the South of France, partly as a way to prolong the summer. The first boat was a fantastic opportunity and learning experience and I’ve enjoyed the lifestyle and career challenges ever since.”
Capt. Kennedy has worked on five yachts, both charter and private, with a specialist focus on watersports and water safety programs. He is fortunate the yachts have given him the chance to travel extensively across the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, the Med, Adriatic, Caribbean, Andaman, and Red Seas as well as the bays of Bengal, Biscay, and the English Channel.
“On Lady E, I share the captain’s role with Charles DuGas-Standish — a professional relationship which began in 2016 when we were employed together as captain and chief officer respectively on a previous vessel,” says Kennedy. “Following a short stint on separate vessels, Charles invited me to join him on Lady E in late 2018 as chief officer and I was subsequently promoted to captain early 2020.”
The newly extended 74-meter Amels Lady E was due for a refit in the winter of 2019/2020 to replace the ship’s generators and power management system. The owner decided to add a six-and-a-half-meter beach club extension, hammam spa, and treatment room, plus do some significant AV and IT improvements.
“On arrival at Pendennis Shipyard (PSY), the scope of the works was further extended to include: a new navigation (two new radars and ECDIS) system, an exterior paint respray, rebuild of the interior watersports area, and servicing of main engines, stabilizers, and hydraulic systems,” Kennedy says.
As chief officer on arrival at the yard, Kennedy was part of the project team involved in the planning and specification phase. Once promoted to captain, his focus shifted to the project management alongside key contractors, PSY managers, and the wider Lady E management team.
The team’s safety from COVID was the greatest logistical challenge to the project. The yard was shut down for three weeks and supply chains, contractor attendance, and crew travel were all compromised. “As a crew, we learned to deal with the challenges,” says Kennedy. “For example, restricted numbers in workspaces, one-way access systems, regular swab testing, shipping and handling restrictions. Mitigating these impacts on the project required consistent review and problem solving. Despite this, a delay to the departure of the vessel was unavoidable.”
Capt. Kennedy enjoyed the crew’s enthusiasm to upskill and learn during the project. “Working on a yacht during a yard period can be tedious at times — it is a very different aspect to guest service and watersports on board, but our crew proved that it can also be a useful and rewarding experience,” he says.
Among other things, they learned and worked alongside tradesmen, learned new paint procedures, and gained familiarization with safety systems, tender electrics, and mechanics. “On top of this, we ran formal training sessions: fire and medical first response, professional watersports instruction, navigation hardware familiarization, etc.” Capt. Kennedy says. “It was excellent to see how much the crew enjoyed and appreciated the training and new skills.”
The hammam spa and treatment room (both with expansive windows) are unique for a yacht, the captain says. The combination of the beach club and the expansive aft deck above appeals to watersports enthusiasts and spectators alike. “A large selection of our ‘toys’ are now on display in the beach club so there is an aspirational aspect to the space, [plus] the comforts of the bar, television, and loungers. It is a very special place,” he says.
With the project now complete, Lady E’s itinerary for the coming year includes extensive travel throughout Australia (including the Kimberley, Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays, and the cities Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, and Sydney). Into 2022, Lady E will travel north for a Mediterranean summer charter season before embarking on a world tour in the later part of the year. Hopefully, Lady E will make it to New Zealand shores before too long — a particular highlight for this patriotic Kiwi.
This article originally ran in the August 2021 issue of Dockwalk.