Answering the questions is Captain Steve Smith of the 44-metre Warren Yachts Silver Dream, built in 2001
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 in order to travel. I spent five years cruising in Europe, the Canary Islands 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 visiting Thailand, Myanmar and the Seychelles. I’d love to spend more time exploring the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar – the area had just opened up to foreign yachts when we first visited in 2004 and was completely untouched. In the Mediterranean, my favourite cruising area is the turquoise coast of 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 favourite on-board toy has to be my surfboard, although the Mediterranean in the summer isn’t really a surf destination.
What would you change about the superyachting industry?
I would like to see zero-emission yachts being taken more seriously in the future. A solar-powered yacht has circumnavigated the globe and a Turkish company is developing a solar-powered production yacht at the moment. As battery and photovoltaic technology improves, zero-emission superyachts will become a reality. I’d like to see Elon Musk team up with Feadship!
What’s the most curious request you’ve had from a guest?
Our guest privacy is very important so I wouldn’t be able to answer this question.
What’s the worst weather you have encountered on board?
Not long 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 the port of Tangier. The worst weather I’ve experienced in the Mediterranean was while berthed stern-to in Portofino, late in the season, with guests on board. It became so uncomfortable, even dangerous, that we had to leave the port to find a protected anchorage. Luckily we had 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?
It always seems to be the chefs that are the strangest and most eccentric members of any crew. Our previous chef was probably the most entertaining – I wouldn’t want to name him, but you know who you are, Ed Randall! All of our crew are entertaining in their own way.
Who was the most troublesome crew member you’ve worked with?
We’ve been very lucky with crew over the years and haven’t had too many dramas. We did once hire someone through an agency, who’d lied on his CV about his qualifications and experience. It turned out that he didn’t actually have any qualifications at all so we had to find a last-minute replacement before sailing the next morning.
What’s the most stressful part of your job?
It can be quite stressful finding berths at short notice during the height of the season, especially when the guests change their plans at the last minute. Fortunately, we have some good contacts and have always managed to find a spot.
What’s the next big thing in yachting?
Any advice for an aspiring captain?
The most important part of any yacht is the crew, so my advice for an aspiring captain would be to choose the right crew carefully and keep them happy. If the crew are happy, the atmosphere on board will be positive and the 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 ever seen another captain make?
I think it would be bad karma to make fun of another captain’s misfortune so probably best not to answer this question.
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, charters through Cecil Wright & Partners from €133,000pw. She is for sale with the same company, asking €9.9 million
• A version of this story appeared in SuperYacht World Issue 50.