Q&A with Chief Engineer Steve Gondusky

16 September 2020 By Lauren Beck

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.

Chief Engineer Steve Gondusky

Name: Steve Gondusky
Position: Chief Engineer
Vessel: M/Y Sotavento
Builder: Benetti
LOA: 50M/164'1"
Years in current position: 5 months
Years in industry: 20  
Previous vessels: S/Y Dione Star, S/Y Silver Moon, M/Y Perseverance II, M/Y Talisman Maiton
Nationality: American

If I weren’t on a yacht, I would be an estate management or resort engineer. That, and spending more time with my family. If choosing a different career, I’d be an F1 driver.

I grew up on the water and started a career as a systems tech in Newport, Rhode Island, and Sint Maarten. I met many crew and fell in love with the “lifestyle.” I continued my education and [it] felt like a no brainer to fulfill a career. 

The most challenging part of the job is blackwater systems. No matter how diligent you are with explaining, “If you didn’t eat it or drink it, don’t flush it,” someone flushes the unthinkable. 

My worst mechanical failure happened aboard a brand-new yacht with 86 hours on the generator. A conductor broke off the coil and we had to dismantle it and hot work in the Panamanian heat. 

The biggest issue facing yacht engineers today: Joining a yacht when current class certificates are not up to date, or without proper record logs. There are far more certifications required than in years past and it is vital to have all records easily accessible and up to date. 

My advice for those looking to get started is to get in the industry at a young age. Learn as much as you can handle from those who are giving you a chance and eventually you’ll find the department you fit in best. 

If you want to impress on the job, always have a strong work ethic and positive attitude. Carry an, “I can” attitude, not an “I know everything” attitude. 

Being in the yachting industry has shown me that I would travel the world multiple times at 12 knots or less rather than flying or driving everywhere.

My most significant achievement was safely getting the yacht from the sea back into her home berth after the shaft seal burned up, ripped the water injection fittings out, and spun the articulating hose around the stern tube.  

The best part about my current job is the amazing captain(s) and manager who all treat me like family. With this world lockdown, I’m blessed to have a job. The current world situation put a sad hold on the yachting industry, but luckily, I have an owner that engages everyone to be happy and healthy.  

This column originally ran in the August 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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