Captain, 151-foot Delta motoryacht Katya
Date interviewed: October 2009
Yachts don’t come much newer than Katya is today. The teak on her sundeck is positively gleaming.
We left the Delta shipyard in Seattle on August 1 so that we could get to Fort Lauderdale in time for our debut at the city’s boat show, in October 2009. You’re one of the first people to come aboard. A lot of charter brokers haven’t even seen us yet.
Was Katya built with charter in mind?
She was. And not just any charters, but family charters in particular. The owner has a 7-year-old daughter—the boat is named for her, actually—and she likes to do things like hang out with the chef while he makes ice cream, or hang out on the bridge with me and play dolls. So we built in spaces for that to happen.
Did I hear that right? You’re the captain of a 151-foot motoryacht, and you’re on the bridge playing with dolls?
Well, I have a 10-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 6-month old of my own. I love kids. Our whole crew does.
That's not to say we're in any way unprofessional. Several of our crew came from the 187-foot Abeking and Rasmussen motoryacht Excellence III. I was the mate there, and it’s where I learned to charter from a captain who had 25 years of experience. Here on Katya, my mate and chief stewardess both came with me from Excellence III. We all know the standard that we are here to achieve.
Are the rest of Katya’s crew as child-friendly as you are?
This crew has been keeping up with my kids since they were born. My son has tried to stick his head through hawseholes, all kinds of things like that, and the crew know to be there to stop him. They know kids need to wear life jackets. We’re ready, and we prefer to do family charters.
The thing is, Excellence III did 15 to 18 charters every year. The best ones were always the family charters. The kids remind me of my own, who I miss, and they make for the best memories.
I’m not sure how to say this without sounding odd about other charter boats, but our crew really likes kids. Some boats, they have really young stewardesses, or stewardesses who just don’t like kids. That is not our boat. Parents will not have stress here.
I noticed that one of the cabins looked like it was built specifically with kids in mind.
We call it the Princess Cabin. It has a smaller bathroom, plus the satellite receivers are blocked on the TV system so that children in the room can’t access channels that are inappropriate for their age.
I know you’re still getting to know Katya, but what are some of your favorite features so far?
It’s great that we have a garage for our tenders, so the deck space can stay clear for guest use. And we have Quantum zero-speed stabilizers, so that also will help to keep guests comfortable.
From a more technical perspective, I like the yacht’s fuel efficiency. It works well with my personal ways of doing things. I don’t go 15 knots to get somewhere at 3 a.m. when I can go 12 knots and get there at 7 a.m. The guests aren’t awake yet, anyway, so why spend their money on burning extra fuel?
Do charter guests really pay that much attention to fuel expenses?
They do when a captain takes the time to show them how the expenses work. They often pay really close attention when they're given the chance.
I send a fuel consumption report to our owner every day at noon. (As shown in the photograph at right.) So to show charter guests the same report when they’re aboard is easy. When they see how much it can add to the bill to go fast instead of slower, they start to think twice about getting somewhere before the shops close at night. It’s their money, and we’ll of course do what they want, but I think there should be total transparency in the process. Fuel is one of three major yachting expenses—fuel, dockage, and crew salaries. The charter guests can’t control all of those, but on fuel, they can have a real say.
Speaking of expenses, a lot of charter yachts are offering discounts these days because of the global recession. Is Katya’s owner doing the same?
We’re looking for eight to 10 weeks of charter in the Caribbean and Mediterranean each year, and we’re a brand-new boat with a lot to offer. So far, I would tell charter clients not to expect negotiations on price. The owner hasn’t budget yet, and I don’t expect that he will anytime soon.