Captain, 156-foot motoryacht Azzurra II.
Date interviewed: December 2007
Photo by Suki Finnerty/Broad Reach Productions
How did you realize you wanted to become a captain?
The whole reason I’m in this industry at all is that I love to entertain. It’s something that my wife and I are really good at. I like to meet new people, and chartering gives me that ability.
What training did you undergo to become a captain?
I started out as an engineer/captain in 1993. Before that, I had a sailing school, part of the American Sailing Association. I realized that I wasn’t seeing the world like I wanted to. I was just staying in one place. So I got onto charter boats that moved around a lot.
What yachts did you work on before joining your current yacht?
Most recently, I was captain onboard the156-foot motoryacht Inspiration in the Mediterranean. Before that, I was captain onboard the 112-foot motoryacht Symphony II, and before that was the 118-foot motoryacht Nirvana.
In all my years of chartering, I learned more from the owner of Symphony II than anyone else about the wants and needs of the caliber of people we deal with. He develops high-end condos, and I’ve always tried to exceed people’s expectations in my chartering, but he goes way beyond that in every aspect of his condominiums. The grass is manicured perfectly. The right napkins are chosen. I used to take that stuff for granted and leave it up to the stewardesses, but when he gave me an unlimited budget to do table settings and everything else, we went all out. The oohs and ahhs that we got were just flooring.
Now, I bring that level of service with me to Azzurra II.
When did you join your current yacht?
What do you think makes your yacht’s crew unique or special?
I have a unique management style. I don’t micromanage my crew. I’m involved in every aspect, from folding napkins to doing laundry if I need to be, like every good charter boat captain is, but it’s so competitive to find good crew and keep them that the most important thing to me is to have a happy crew. I go out of my way to give everybody input and utilize everybody’s ideas.
Happy crew leads to happy service for our guests. That's the idea.
How do you determine what itinerary you will set for a charter?
I am flexible. The person who sends you their ideas and preferences ahead of time generally doesn’t have time to speak to all of their guests in advance. They may get onboard, and the ten of them get together and want to do different things. To lay out an itinerary in advance doesn’t make sense.
It’s better to get everybody onboard, sit them all down, and give them options. I may do some dockage reservations in advance just in case, but their first day on the boat, I’d rather get the charts out at a cocktail party and give them ideas while we look at the weather.
How flexible are you about changing the itinerary on a day-to-day basis?
Of course. Flexibility is key.
What are some of your favorite cruising destinations, and why?
It’s not about me. It’s about the client. We will go wherever the client wants.
But personally, I like to be in a nice quiet anchorage, in a place where we can hide from the weather and have fun with all the water toys. Generally the guests like to go into town and party at night. I’m happy to do that for them. I really don’t care for St. Barth’s and St. Tropez because I think they’re overrated, but if the clients want to go there, we’ll of course make it happen.
In the Mediterranean, I prefer the coast of Italy. I love the Amalfi Coast, Portofino, Capri. It’s quieter, you have wonderful scenery, beautiful water, great people, and the best food in the world.
What features onboard Azzurra II do you particularly enjoy sharing with guests?
We’re putting in a new Kaleidescope system right now (March 2006). It has a memory capacity to hold about 5,000 hours of music and 500 hours of DVDs, and guests will be able to access them by remote control from nine different points on the boat. You’ve got their cabins, the main saloon, the sky lounge and the aft deck. It's incredible.
We’ve also got two Jet Skis, a 22-foot tender with a dodger that keeps people dry. We tow a 33-foot Intrepid fishing boat, so there are plenty of water sports options.
Our master stateroom is unique, too. It has 22 windows with electric blinds (see photo above). The master king-size bed has massage control from each side of the bed, so both people can have individual massages. It also has six different positions for watching TV, reading, putting your feet up, that sort of thing.
The master also has an individual forward access to a private sunning area (between the cabinets in the above photo), so if you want to sunbathe au naturale, you can do that.
What kind of charter guests are your favorites?
Personally, I love success stories. That’s the neat part of what I do, is meeting these people who have brought themselves up from nothing and become very successful and don’t mind talking about it.
We also like families. We feel that families can be a little more of a challenge in terms of service, but the benefit is that generally, when families charter, it’s about the kids. So when you do your job right and keep the kids happy and show them the time of their life, the parents are equally as happy.
A lot of charter boats don’t encourage families, and I think that’s a big mistake. We love them.
Azzurra II is part of the fleet at International Yacht Collection. The weekly base rate is $140,000 for 10 guests, or about $17,500 per person with typical 25-percent expenses included. The base rate is $165,000 in the Mediterranean.