We put the questions to Captain Ben Craig-Cameron, master of the 55.4-metre Turquoise, launched in 2011 and refitted in 2014
Place of birth Birmingham, UK
Current yacht Turquoise
Number of crew 13
Previous yachts Mirabella V, Ranger, Nirvana, Wally_B
What was your first taste of the sea?
My first memory of the being on the sea goes back to a holiday with my father and sister up in the Lake District of the UK. We hired a small dinghy and I loved it! There were a series of summer lessons, before my late step-father got me into racing at the local yacht club – from that moment I was hooked.
Which destinations do you most look forward to visiting?
That depends a lot on the clients we have on board, and also the seasons. I love discovering new places, but equally there’s always a great feeling when you go back to areas and catch up with old friends.
What are your favourite onshore hangouts?
These days, whenever I get the chance, I prefer to take off on my bike and mix training with exploring, or go for a run.
What’s the one place in the world you’d like to cruise to that you haven’t already?
I’d like to get down to the Pacific, or do a round-the-world cruise. If I ever got fit enough, the Volvo Ocean Race is something I want to do.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
It’s hard to believe that I ran my first charter yacht back in the mid-nineties with nothing more than a letter of comfort from the owner and an acceptance from the insurance company. These days I wouldn’t even get hired as a deckhand with the lack of qualifications I had! It’s a very different industry now and I’m an advocate of the level of certification required, but the rapid route from deckhand to captain needs reviewing. There is a huge hole in people skills and man-management in our industry, and I feel we need to address that. Crew seem to fall into two categories these days – short-term gain or rapid career advancement. There are very few who understand that learning through experience has more value in the long run, rather than quick progression at school and some dubious sea time.
What do you like most about your current yacht?
It is pretty close to being ideal for me. I have an owner who I like working for, a yacht that I’m proud of, and a product which we have created that is a success. Whilst it’s a lot of hard work, it’s also a lot of fun – we have a great team in place, not only on board, but also in every aspect of support needed to run a busy charter yacht.
Which is your favourite on-board toy?
My Cervelo P2 triathlon bike.
What would you change about the superyachting industry?
I think the industry needs to promote rotation for captains – it became all too embracing for chief engineers, so why not us?
What’s the most curious request you’ve had from a guest?
I’ve had many from an eclectic mix of guests, from rock stars to priests. However, their requests and – how I was able to meet them – will always stay between ourselves.
What’s the worst weather you have encountered on board?
Going back to my Maxi sailing yacht days, getting caught by the tail end of a hurricane coming back down from Newfoundland; rudder bearings failing during a Gulf Stream storm; engine coming off its mounts mid-Atlantic; the keel snapping off a racing yacht, which led to it sinking and us getting rescued by helicopter.
What’s the next big thing in yachting?
A return to individual companies handling the three main aspects of a charter yacht – charter management, ISM/ISPS requirements, and day-to-day operations. There can be a conflict of interest between the financial/safety/operational facets of running a charter.
Any advice for an aspiring captain?
In order to run a yacht well, you have to know how each department works, and never be shy of helping out in any of them. Don’t take a position you are not ready for and remember that the difference between a master and a beginner is that a master has failed more times than a beginner has ever tried.
What’s the biggest cock-up you’ve ever seen another captain make?
Everyone in this industry is always so keen to comment and criticise another person’s mistake, often without knowing the facts. Maybe the question should ‘what the best outcome of a bad situation you’ve seen a captain handle?’
We’re all human, and I have made plenty of mistakes. How we learn and recover from them is what defines us as individuals.
The 55.4-metre Turquoise, launched by Proteksan in 2011 (refitted 2014), charters through Fraser Yachts from €308,000pw (summer). The yacht is on brokerage with Burgess at €28.95 million