Posted February 13, 2019

A Captain's Insight

Q&A with a superyacht charter captain of 12 years

Following the sale of his last command, Jacozami, we caught up for coffee with Captain Jean-Max Berthet. Jean-Max has captained several of our popular charter boats over the last few years including PHANTOM, a 28m Sunseeker Predator 84,   AQUA LIBRE a 37m Sunseeker,  and most recently, up until its sale, JACOZAMI, a 131 Sunseeker.

Q. What is the most challenging situation you have dealt with in your career as a Captain?

A. This has always been when starting a new job, especially the delivery of a brand-new charter yacht as there is so much set-up involved in the transition from delivery to being 100% guest ready. This was definitely the case with my last command, the Sunseeker 131′ Jacozami. I was given a clear mission which was to create a hugely successful charter yacht, whilst at the same time ensuring the owners had enough time onboard to enjoy their new pride and joy. I was lucky to join in February whilst the yacht was still in build and not due to be delivered until after the Monaco GP in May.


Q. How has the charter industry evolved since you have been in yachting and how do you navigate the new rules and regulations?

A. It is no secret that the charter industry is becoming more and more regulated with checks regularly carried out by Port State Control who have the ability to detain yachts for the smallest of issues. Points such as the correct handling of VAT, the setup of Fiscal Representatives, ensuring proper charter licenses, crew certification, correct flag and class certification, mini-ISM, MLC compliance, issuing onboard jetski licences are just some of the factors that have influenced our routines. The industry as a whole is also becoming more and more professional and organised, which is great for the owners as this means their assets are being properly looked after and also great for the charter clients as this more professional approach only adds to their holiday experience. Nowadays it is very difficult to handle a charter yacht without the assistance of a capable management company, the captain and his crew can’t possibly keep up with all the new rules. The regulations in regards of the VAT are particularly tricky and customs controls take place far more often. In the past I have experienced countless customs controls but now, being part of the fleet of a reputable management company like SYM Superyacht Management, the customs investigator’s first impression is one of total professionalism. SYM Superyacht Management have really competent staff who are familiar with rules and regulations.


Q. Where is your favorite charter cruising area?

A. I’m most familiar with Western Med destinations having spent my childhood cruising Corsica by boat with my family, it is still my favourite dream. Nevertheless, I also enjoy Portofino, La Costa Smeralda and around St Tropez as well, despite the crowds there, it is always an idyllic and isolated spot.


Q. Has working in conjunction with SYM Superyacht Management simplified your role as a Captain? 

A. They have been exceptionally helpful when it comes to accounting, crew recruitment, the drawing up of charter contracts for the owner, managing the APA and for bank transfers. The team are really helpful and knowledgeable, I can pick up the phone at any time of the day or night and they pick up. They are always there to make our life easier and safer.  Sometimes I feel embarrassed to think I have the fun job and they handle all the difficult tasks in my yachting life!! Having SYM Superyacht Management on your side gives so much more time to ensure the charters and owners are happy and also gives me more time to manage my crew. Our main duty on board as crew is to create happy and memorable moments for our guests, this is only possible when we have a free mind to focus on this task.  


Q. From a charter guest’s point of view how does SYM Superyacht Management help behind the scenes?  

A. In addition to assistance with transfers, berth bookings, deliveries of parts, arranging subcontractors for any repairs/servicing, delivery of orders to the yacht and guests one thing that stands out is the assistance they offer during tight turnarounds between charters. In the peak season they regularly organise a team of trusted skilled workers to help us turnaround the yacht in less than 24hrs, this gives my crew some time to rest in between charters and respect the MLC regulations.


Q. Final insight from you into your experience of working closely with the team at SYM?

A. SYM Superyacht Management are the most dedicated team in yachting. Despite their success, they have retained a friendly and understanding approach to management. They are sympathetic and always fair when problems are raised between owners and crew, they manage to protect the interests from both sides.

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