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Dockwalk’s 20th Year: What I Wish I Knew….

Sep 27th 16
By Hillary Hoffower


For better or for worse, a lot is learned, lost, and gained when you work on a yacht — especially for 20 years. In the third installment of “Dockwalk’s 20th Year,” captains and crew look back and share what they wish they knew before embarking on their yachting career. Veterans, you’ll relate, and new crew — well, you just might pick up a tip or two.


What do you wish you knew when you first entered the industry?


How to Prepare

“I had been self employed for a few years and living independently from age sixteen to twenty, so I was very independent, working my own schedule three to four days a week and sail racing the other few days a week…it took some adjusting to living on board a one hundred-thirty-five-foot yacht with eight crew of whom you didn’t know and every minute of your day was controlled by the first officer. So a little forward insight and conditioning from someone in the industry already would have helped the transition.” — Capt. Vaughan Hill, M/Y 11.11


“How important qualifications would become to the industry. Although I feel qualifications are important, I feel it has become too insurance industry driven and a chase for paper over useable skills. I learned most of what I know on board at sea, not in a classroom. There is a skillset required at sea that no classroom can properly prepare you for.” — Capt. Karl Joyner, S/Y Columbia


How to Be More Savvy

“How to be a carpenter.” — Capt. David R. Pines


“How to tie a bowline. I was called out by the captain one day and couldn't tie a bowline. He showed me how, then put a copy of ‘Chapman's Piloting and Seamanship’ in my hand and suggested I read it cover to cover.” — Capt. Chas Donahoe, M/Y Tera-Byte


“Exit strategy! Yachting is tough to get into these days, but oh boy, getting out at the end is really hard. Finding anything on land that engages the mind like life at sea is a tall order. I would urge everyone to plan that exit well. Study if you have to, get the qualifications you need, because it is a big change of life when one day you have kids and a family to think about.” — Capt. James Lowe


All Things Money

“If anything, I wish I knew the power of compound interest. I've saved over the years, but should have saved more early on. Where have we heard that song before.... Maybe Rod should come out with one similar!” — Capt. John Olson


“To start saving money for the IRA sooner and more. I also learned early on

to NEVER use your own money for the boat.” — Capt. Tedd Greenwald, M/Y Pilgrim


“How to sail would have been a good start. And also how to manage money better. It took some years for me to realize what a unique opportunity the industry offered to save for the future.” — Capt. Greg Butler-Davis, S/Y Victoria


The Trying Times

How much patience and energy you would need!” — Danny and Lisa Robinson, S/Y Meari


“I really stumbled into professional yachting by accident. In those days I was really in it for the travel and adventure, which I certainly found. I did serve on one very large yacht but left after about a year because it was scheduled to just sit in Antibes and I wanted to go back to a smaller sailing yacht [that] was traveling. We rarely sailed on that large yacht; I didn't really like the politics of a big crew, and I was frustrated with the lack of adventure. However, now as I enter my fifties I realize I probably should have stuck it out and I would be running much larger boats now with the accompanying paycheck. At least with the route I did take. I accumulated a lot of unique experiences and some funny stories.” — Capt. Geoffrey C. Gardner


The Sacrifices

“I might have wanted to know that ‘for a fistful of dollars,’ the promises of freedom would be swapped for a few liberties...” — Capt. Jacques Meader. M/Y Paolyre


“The personal sacrifices necessary to maintain a significant role in this industry, which often place a toll on home life, family, and relationships. I’ve learned to capitalize upon the elusive quality time when it is available to make everlasting memories not unlike those expected by our owners and guests.” — Capt. Chris Harris, M/Y Cachee



Photo: Capt. Chris Harris




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