Going AWOL on YouTube

2 July 2019 By Claire Griffiths

A veteran yacht captain of 16 years in the superyacht industry, (12 years with his current owner), Capt. Tristan Mortlock and his crew of M/Y AWOL, aren’t ditching their day jobs, but they have found an unexpected and growing fanbase for their YouTube videos about life on a superyacht (search “Super Yacht Captain”).

The videos consist of Mortlock showing viewers everyday life and duties onboard a luxury yacht. The aim, he explains, is to give “green” crew an insight into a life you can never really know until you’re oceanside of the passerelle. “I think yachting is viewed as a dark cloud from the outside — smug millionaires and their unnecessary toys.” he says. “But in fact, it creates thousands of jobs around the world and I wanted to put a positive light on it as it has given me so much over the years.” He credits his and his partner’s (a chief stew on board AWOL) very happy life to the industry.  

The YouTube channel was launched in September 2018 and already averages 1.2 million views per month. “We’ve had lots of queries from viewers who want to learn how things work on board. Some are inquisitive onlookers and others are looking to work in the industry and want genuine insider information,” explains Mortlock, adding that they’ve made videos with the engineering department, the galley, and the interior crew. “Viewers have an idea in their heads of what it is like working and living onboard, but the reality can be quite different.”

The most popular video to date is “Re-fueling a superyacht” — with 200,000 views in the first week. Videos in the pipeline include interviews with the the chase boat captain and with the deck department. “That should be an interesting one because that’s entry level for most crew,” explains the captain. “We’ll go through the deck duties for when we are on charter, the duties when we’re off charter, and also the watersports element, so a round-up of a deckhand’s everyday life.”

Last year, AWOL crew won all three competitions at the MYBA Charter Show in April 2018 (chef competition, meet & greet, and table decoration). Mortlock won the ACREW First Captain Master 500 Award last year.

AWOL is a critically eco-aware yacht, and currently targeting to becoming an eco-products-only boat. Chief Stewardess Giverny Elliott initiated the replacement of mini plastic water bottles with stainless steel AWOL-embossed alternatives, and for Chief Mate Barbara Clerc, the sea is her passion: Free-diving with orcas in Norway and with sharks in the Caribbean.