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Super Yacht World - The Captain
Super Yacht World - The Captain

Super Yacht World - The Captain

Thursday, 1st September 2016

Steve Smith

Age 44
Place of birth Kent
Previous yachts Trident, Ocean Kestrel, Slipstream
Current yacht Silver Dream
Number of crew 10


What was your first taste of the sea?
After completing a degree in engineering, I decided to buy a 25ft classic wooden yacht. I spent five years cruising in Europe and the Caribbean before taking a job as mate on a larger sailing yacht.

Which destinations do you most look forward to visiting?
We’ve spent a few winters in the Indian Ocean with Silver Dream, mostly in the Maldives but also Thailand, Myanmar and the Seychelles. In the Med, I like Turkey from Bodrum to Goçek.

What are your favourite onshore hangouts?
I enjoy mountain biking and there are some great trails along the Ligurian coast of Italy. It’s good to escape into the mountains, have lunch in a medieval village, and try the local food and wine.

What’s the one place in the world you’d like to cruise to that you haven’t already?
A few years ago we planned a trip from Europe to Sydney, which would have taken us across the Indian Ocean, through Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and then on the Pacific Islands, before heading to Australia. I’m still hoping this trip will one day go ahead.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
The industry has become more regulated, which I believe is a good thing even if it requires more paperwork.

What do you like most about your current yacht?
That’s easy: the owners and the crew.

Which is your favourite on-board toy?
My surfboard, though the Med in summer isn’t a surf destination.

What would you change about the superyachting industry?
I would like to see zero-emission yachts being taken more seriously. A solar-powered yacht has circumnavigated the globe and a Turkish company is developing a solar-powered production yacht. As battery and photo-voltaic technology improves, zero-emission superyachts will become a reality. I’d like to see Elon Musk team up with Feadship.

What’s the worst weather you have encountered on board?
After setting sail from England, we were caught out by a storm off the coast of Morocco. The waves were almost as high as the mast but we managed to run with the swell, streaming lines astern to stop the yacht from broaching. After almost 24 exhilarating hours, we found a protected anchorage off Tangier. The worst weather I’ve experienced in the Med was while berthed stern-to in Portofino. It was so uncomfortable that we had to leave port to find a protected anchorage. We sent the guests ashore until we were safely anchored a few hours down the coast.

Who is the most eccentric/strangest/funniest member of your crew?
Chefs are the strangest and most eccentric members of any crew. Our previous chef was probably the most entertaining, though I wouldn’t want to name him (but you know who you are, Ed Randall).

Who was the most troublesome crew member you’ve worked with?
We’ve been very lucky with crew over the years, though we did once hire a relief engineer through an agency. He’d lied on his CV about his qualifications and experience: he didn’t actually have any. We had to find a last-minute replacement before sailing the next morning.

What’s the most stressful part of your job?
Finding berths at short notice during the season, especially when guests change their plans at the last minute. Fortunately, we have some good contacts and always manage to find a spot.

Any advice for an aspiring captain?
The most important part of any yacht is the crew: choose the right crew carefully and keep them happy. If the crew are happy, the atmosphere on board will be positive and guests will pick up on this.

Who would be your top five fantasy charter guests?
Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, John Florence, Mason Ho and Tony Bear – all surfing legends.

What’s the biggest cock-up you’ve seen another captain make?
It would be bad karma to make fun of another captain’s misfortune.

And yours?
I was caught out by a hurricane in the Caribbean on my yacht back in 1999. At the time we had no communications on board apart from a VHF radio, no internet connection and in fact no engine, just sails. I managed to get away with it but only just, so I’ve always kept a close eye on the weather since then.

Silver Dream, a 44-metre Warren Yachts built in 2001. She is also for sale through Cecil Wright & Partners.

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