It’s easy to think that a captain’s job is to drive a superyacht to glamorous locations and drop the anchor in idyllic anchorages, but as Kelly Gordon and other captains will tell you, that’s only a tiny part of the role.
By Charlotte Thomas | 4 January 2024
For Kelly Gordon, captaining a superyacht was something she never imagined until she had already started a career as a chemistry professor when a chance encounter at a party on a large motor yacht changed everything. Now, having uncovered her passion for the sea and having achieved the ultimate position as a superyacht captain, Gordon is not only a role model for female crew who want to pursue a career on the deck and engineering side of superyachts, but is also an active advocate of crew mental health. But what exactly does a superyacht captain do, and is it just about driving the yacht from A to B and making sure the crew keep it in top condition?
The simple answer, says Gordon, is no – and in fact the role of a modern yacht captain is highly complex and multifaceted. Take Gordon’s current command, for example – a 33-metre private yacht that cruises extensively with the owning family on board. “My responsibilities of course encompass safely operating and navigating the boat – that’s the technical side of it,” Gordon begins. “But actually the smallest element is navigation and operation, and the far bigger side is crew management. I spend a tremendous amount of time with the crew, making sure everyone’s got what they need.