Q&A with Chief Engineer Al Alborough of 72-meter Quantum of Solace

3 February 2021 By Erica Lay

Owner of international crew agency EL CREW CO in Mallorca, Spain, Erica has been a freelance writer since 2008. She loves engaging with the projects she works on, diving headfirst into the research, investigation, and production of the stories she feels are newsworthy. A curious and proactive journalist, she draws on her own life experiences, her studies, and her work with crew all over the globe.

Name: Al Alborough
Position: Chief Engineer
Yacht: M/Y Quantum of Solace
LOA: 72.6M/238'2”
Years in current position: 3.5 years; 9.5 years as chief engineer
Years in industry: 10.5 years
Previous vessels: M/Y TJ Esperanza, M/Y AQUAMARINA, M/Y ALEXANDAR V, M/Y Natita, M/Y SKYFALL, M/Y Spectre, M/Y Miss Moneypenny V
Nationality: British

If I weren’t on a yacht, what would I be doing? While I’d like the answer to be sitting with my feet up as much as my wife would allow me while sipping on a cold one, the actual answer is more likely working in the mechanical engineering field, possibly as a service technician but definitely not sales.

I retired from the Royal Navy after 26 years and gained Y3.

The most challenging part of my job is keeping my temper and sense of humor when entitled rich folk break or treat expensive gadgets as toys. They’ll break them and offer no apology or thank you when you fix them.  

My worst mechanical failure as an engineer was when a small sprinkler head leak dripped over the course of a weekend onto an insanely expensive silk kilim rug and ruined it.

The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today is obtaining a fair market salary in the face of commercial engineers moving into the yacht sector who will work for less.

My advice for those looking to get started is to be pragmatic. Don’t expect to jump straight into the chief’s chair on your first boat — learn the ropes and own your mistakes.

My advice for those looking to impress on the job is to be professional and work hard. Again, be pragmatic and attempt to repair equipment — which may be charter critical — with what you have on hand rather than only waiting for spares. Tell the captain/owner exactly what is wrong (respectfully, without sugar-coating) through constructive discourse.

Something I’ve learned about myself through yachting is that I have a higher tolerance for dealing with bullshit and busy work than I had previously thought.

My most significant achievement is making it this far without being fired (yet).

The best part about the job is rotation. If not for this aspect, I would not continue to be married to my wife.  

This column originally ran in the February 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


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