UK-born Tristan Mortlock began skippering smaller boats in the summer months in the south of Spain when he was 16. He worked his way up, and at 21 got his first private captain’s job.
Today, Mortlock works aboard Awol, which is exclusively chartered by luxury yachting firm IYC, and has been the ship’s captain since late 2016. He also runs the YouTube channel Super Yacht Captain, where he gives a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of a superyacht.
Awol costs 135,000 euros — or approximately $160,000 — per week to charter and sails the West Mediterranean (hitting France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) and the East Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea (hitting Albania, Croatia, and Montenegro).
The yacht’s cruising time is typically seven months, March through September, but Mortlock is on board year-round. When he and his wife, chief stewardess on Awol, have time off, they retreat to their house in the French Riviera.
The 37-meter vessel fits up to 10 guests in its five cabins and accommodates a crew of nine. It has a family-friendly set up with toys like stand-up paddleboards, Seabobs, and canoes on board.
"We try to deviate from the party-style charters," Mortlock told Insider. "We are predominantly a family boat."
The modernly-designed ship was refitted in 2019 and has several indoor and outdoor lounging spaces, a formal dining area, an entertainment system, and a large Jacuzzi.
Mortlock has been working for the current owner of Awol since 2007, but in June, the yacht was sold. He agreed to stay with the new owner to the end of October.
The owner typically uses the boat four to eight weeks out of the year, and the rest of the year it’s used as a charter. Mortlock has served billionaires, A-list celebrities, athletes, high-profile designers, and businessmen, and said that despite what people may think, everyone is generally very friendly. For high-profile clients, Mortlock almost always is required to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
"In my experience, there’s quite a misconception about charter guests and people that come from a wealthy background," he said. "The reality is that 90% of the guests we have on board, although they are exceptionally wealthy and are world leaders, they are very chilled people. They just want to come on board with their families and enjoy time with their children."
However, he’s also served very difficult people. "Unfortunately, some people you just can’t please," he said. "One thing I’ve learned in the industry is that wealth whispers and money shouts."
Mortlock says that Awol has "silver service" on board, and retaining that pristine level of professionalism and service is of the utmost importance.
"The idea is to have everything they need but not see you doing it," he said.
Here’s a look into Mortlock’s daily routine when he’s working aboard the yacht:
He starts his day at 6:30 a.m.
Mortlock wakes up and checks the weather forecast before going through emails from suppliers, harbor masters, the management company, or the owner.
On deck, the crew will open the boat and take off the covers on the cushions, sunbeds, and seating areas they put on the night before.
Mortlock then goes to inspect the boat’s exterior and make sure everything is ready before the guests get up. In the meantime, the chef will be prepping breakfast and Mortlock will talk to him about the day’s plans.
"The moment the guests come up for breakfast, the staff straightens the cabins, dries the showers, cleans the bathrooms, replaces toiletries, irons the sheets and makes the bed, vacuums, fill waters on bedside tables, and makes sure the temperature is to the client’s liking," he said.
Mid-morning, the boat leaves whichever port it was in for the night
Depending on the location, the weather, and the guests’ desired activities, Mortlock will plan to sail to a bay.
For example, if the boat is in France, he’ll take guests to Cannes Island to anchor. After sailing in this region for several years, he knows the best spots in all of the Mediterranean to take guests that are ideal for both them and the ship. He’ll make sure the vessel is secure, cut off the main engines, open the garage doors, and prepare the toys.
While guests are enjoying the water, the crew will clean up the interiors again and prepare for lunch.
While the guests eat between noon and 2 p.m., Mortlock will take calls
Lunch served is based entirely around the guest’s preferences, which will be planned when the charter is booked months in advance. Last-minute demands aren’t uncommon, and he and his crew can make many things happen.
For example, if a guest wants a particular fish or an expensive, rare bottle of wine, they’ll find it.
"After many years in the industry, there are specialists, what we call yacht agents, who specialize in getting things last minute," he said. "I phone them up and they sort it out for us, so we, the crew, can focus on the guests and the vessel."
After lunch, Mortlock and the crew will monitor guests to make sure they’re happy.
"I might do phone calls with the management companies, secure docks in the coming days or weeks, and work with the chef to organize itineraries and make sure the provisioning companies are on the dock when we arrive at our next location," he said.
In the afternoon and early evening, Mortlock and the crew pack the toys up
He then starts up the main engines and heads to the next destination.
"We’ll come into the port with permission of the harbor master and have some assistance as we dock the vessel," he said. "Then we do what we call a dock setup, so we make sure there are mats out, chairs, and shade for the guests. We’ll then rinse down the boat in the evening from any salt or dirt and make sure it is always looking the seven-star standard."
When docked, guests might eat dinner on land or on the boat. Mortlock’s day ends around 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the guest’s routines.
"Once you’ve been doing the job for as long as I have, the job is relatively simple," he said. "The hardest part is managing people. It’s my duty to ensure the energy on the vessel remains positive at all times. When you’re interviewing individuals, you need to make sure they’ll gel well with the crew."
When he isn’t chartering, he’s doing provisioning for the boat and putting together itineraries
During the ship’s charter season, he’s catering to guests, and in the winter months, he performs annual maintenance, ship certification, upgrades, surveys, and audits.
Once a month, he’ll run International Safety Management, practicing fire drills, abandon ship drills, and medical drills. He also does weekly cabin and galley inspections, makes sure food stores are maintained, and ensures the chief engineer is doing his planned maintenance.
"There is a lot of log keeping," he said. "One thing about this industry is that you never stop learning. Always listen. Lots of colleagues are also captains, and I try to always speak with them. They might have little tricks or a great provisioner you might not know about."
Emma Reynolds August 5, 2021 at 11:18PM