Captain’s Q&A: David Pott of The Wellesley

Age 35
Place of Birth Nelspruit, South Africa
Previous yachtsConstellation, Maracunda, Sai Ram, Jems, Apoise, Nero, Domani, The Wellesley II
Current yachtThe Wellesley
Number of crew 14, but we run with

12 (rotational captain and chief engineers)

What was your first taste of the sea?
I was fortunate to grow up in a family that loved to travel. My first taste of the sea was at a young age visiting Ramsgate on the south-east coast of South Africa not far from Durban. We enjoyed our summer holidays at a family holiday home. I was always a keen swimmer and spent most of my time in the water and on the waves.

Which destinations do you most look forward to visiting?
I love Bonifacio with a passion. The cave to the left of the port entrance is always fun to take charter guests into. I love the dramatic cliffs on either side as you back the boat down the long stretch to a stern-to berth. I also like Port Grimaud in the Var region (little Venice) and enjoy showing clients that there is more to see than St Tropez.

What are your favourite onshore hangouts?
In my time off I try to catch up with old friends. I also enjoy watching a good game of rugby, so I would say O’Sullivans in La Napoule as well as the Blue Lady in Antibes are my two favourites.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
The changes that the MLC has brought to yachting have been most noticeable. The control of hours of rest as well as proper SEA contracts in place has changed things for the better. You hear less and less of late salary payments and unfair dismissals.

What do you like most about your current yacht?
I am blessed to have a fantastic crew that work extremely hard to support myself and co-captain Shaun Synders. When you are a busy charter boat like The Wellesley it takes special people to keep motivated every day, especially when the body and mind are tired, and I am very proud of them all. To top it all, I have a fantastic relationship with my boss, manager and co-captain.

Which is your favourite on-board toy?
Unfortunately, I don’t get much time to play with the toys but let’s just say I am working on the boss to get us a Jet-board, which I will definitely have to test out.

What would you change about the superyachting industry?
I would like to see a bit more pre-qualification by companies offering courses to crew. I try hard to inform potential crew members of the ups and downs of the industry. I have seen plenty of people that are not suited to the industry but have paid for expensive courses.

What’s the most curious request you’ve ever had from a guest?
There have been many amusing requests over the years but as a captain I am sworn to secrecy.

What’s the worst weather you have encountered on board?
Coming into the Red Sea, where an 80-metre got really battered. We had the rescue tender on the bow rip off its chocks, hit the forward mast and snap its fibreglass hull in half. In the same weather we also had a small fire on the bridge (electrical, due to water ingress) and water taken in through the ventilation, flooding the crew area.

The most eccentric/strangest/funniest member of your crew?
Our chief engineer Georgie, as he has a fantastic dry sense of humour. He likes to tell people he is a model but could only get a magazine spread for a Michelin tyre advert. All delivered with a straight face.

What’s the most stressful part of your job?
Accounting takes up a lot of my time. Also keeping a calm head so the crew never see you are feeling the pressure is challenging at times.

Any advice for an aspiring captain?
Work hard and play hard – if you can find the balance and keep your chin up all the time, smile and you will be fine. Remember it’s fine to FAIL… ‘First Attempt In Learning’.

Who would be your top 5 fantasy charter guests?
Usain Bolt, Donald Trump, Adam Sandler, Will Smith and Elon Musk.

What’s the biggest cock-up you’ve ever seen another captain make?
I witnessed a large yacht crash into the dock in Monaco, after which the captain started coming towards us. I would not have enjoyed being in command of that out-of-control yacht.

And yours?
My first day driving a boat as captain I left the port with the tender on the bow, forgetting it was there I sped up and created a bit of damage to the tender. The first and last time I tried that manoeuvre…

The 1993 Oceanco The Wellesley charters through Thompson Westwood White Yachts from €220,000 per week