Crew Perspectives: Capt. Mike and Chief Engineer Steve

14 May 2020 By Lauren Beck

As we near mid-May, it’s more evident that things around the world are not as usual. We’re continuing to check in with crew about their experiences with COVID-19 and their current status and situation. Share your stories with us — email

Capt. Mike O’Neill of M/Y Katharine
South Africa

Capt. Mike O’Neill shares his experience as he waits under strict lockdown conditions at his home in South Africa, where he’s spending his time off rotation. The virus has not affected him apart from the lockdown conditions, but it does complicate his return to the boat, however. “The only problem is that, due to the lockdown, my return to the yacht will be delayed until such time as the country’s borders open up and flights become available again,” he says.

Currently, M/Y Katharine is drydocked in Croatia undergoing annual surveys. “Other than some delays with shipping or availability of parts, the work is progressing better than could be expected,” Capt. O’Neill says. “The shipyard is still operational, although with some staff limitations. The crew are being accommodated nearby in apartments and are limited to travel between the shipyard and their apartments.” And there’s obviously a “greater emphasis on sanitation and social distancing where possible.”

Of course, while everyone hopes to be back to normal soon, it’s going to take time as borders open and flights resume. “We are constantly being updated on latest developments from various countries, organizations and ship’s agents,” O’Neill says. His biggest challenge, he explains, is that some of his crew had gone home for holidays before lockdowns and now it’s hard to get them back to the yacht. “They cannot renew their Schengen visas as all consulates are closed and, in many countries, there are no flights either,” he says. “But this is a global problem that we will just have to work around.”

Chief Engineer Steve Gondusky on a 50-meter
Palma, Mallorca

Chief Engineer Steve Gondusky departed from Fort Lauderdale on DYT on March 18, 2020. “There was so much uncertainty to the conditions upon arrival as the European ports closed,” Gondusky says. “Luckily, after fifteen days at sea we were able to unload with local crew that only had to adhere, like myself, to the local conditions of the Balearic island.”

Gondusky admits that he feels blessed to hold his current position. “Things in Florida had come to a halt [but] sad situations do lead to good things,” he says. While his original plan was to complete the delivery to Palma, sail to Malta, and then on to Greece before flying back to the States, lockdown changed things. “Now with lockdown, we are sitting at Club de Mar since 6th April and waiting on Malta to open for changing yacht flag state and registration, then a scheduled yard period TBD where by the owner,” he says. “The owner, captain(s), and management really like me and now want to keep me beyond just the lockdown and delivery. Unfortunate events do lead to good things and I wish the world health, happiness, support, and stability.”

He notes that the boat next to them flew in two crewmembers at the end of April — one was from the Ukraine and the other from Bulgaria. “Life here has been quiet and [I’m] honestly happy the way this beautiful island is containing to handle the spread of the virus,” he says.