Behind the Helm with Captain Kynan McDonald of M/Y SCOUT

The Monaco Yacht Show is the great superyacht meeting of Europe, gathering everyone together at the end of the summer season in a huge celebration of all things luxury yachting.

There’s an electric energy to the MYS as new yachts make their global debut, VIP guests stroll the docks looking for their new floating home, and futuristic water toys are unveiled. New design trends and marine technology are hot gossips and the exclusive waterfront lounges are abuzz with people talking contracts and the state of the superyacht industry.

At night, Monaco’s reputation for glamour comes to the fore, with glittering cocktail parties on rooftop terraces and supercars lined up outside the opulent Monte Carlo Casino. There is simply nothing on earth like the Monaco Yacht Show.

For Captains and crew, the Monaco Yacht Show is also a time to reflect on the industry and their place within it, connect with old friends, and, of course, show off their yacht to the buyers, yacht sales and yacht charter brokers, and international press who come aboard for a tour. For Captains returning to the event, the evolution of the show echoes the growth of the industry and their own yachting career.

To get a Captain’s perspective on the importance of the Monaco Yacht Show, how it has changed over the years, and some of the highlights of a working life aboard a world-travelling superyacht, we sat down to talk to Kynan McDonald, the Captain of M/Y SCOUT, a 45.01m luxury yacht for sale, during the Monaco Yacht Show 2017.

Have you been to the Monaco Yacht Show before? How do you feel it’s changed?

It’s my first time on M/Y SCOUT at the show, but I was here 10 years ago when I was the First Officer on a 50m superyacht. In those 10 years, not only has the show become a lot bigger, but the yachts have also grown in size. The vibe of this event has always been amazing, and to see familiar faces and the incredible setting here in Monaco is absolutely beautiful. It’s a fantastic event, so it’s great to be back and it’s great to be here with M/Y SCOUT and the yacht’s Owners. We’re all enjoying it a lot.

From a Captain’s perspective, how important do you consider shows like the Monaco Yacht Show in terms of raising the yacht’s profile?

It’s very important – the Owners are motivated to sell M/Y SCOUT due to a new build on the way. We’ve not really had the opportunity to get exposure for the vessel because we’ve been very busy this season and always on the move.

So, shows like this are a fantastic chance to allow not only the brokers but also the clients to get on board and to see the yacht up close. They get to see the layout and appreciate her condition and what the Owners have done to her in their time of ownership.

Also, the yacht show allows buyers to maximize their precious time by viewing and comparing many yachts within a close proximity. From the feedback we’re getting, M/Y SCOUT is standing out as a unique yacht in the 45m range. I believe the high-level maintenance she has always received is really helping her stand out.

What about M/Y SCOUT is particularly unique, would you say? From the potential buyers you’ve had on board, what would you say is the main advantage of buying this yacht as opposed to a different yacht of the same size?

M/Y SCOUT is a very unique 45m yacht. You’re getting a lot of boats, for not only an under-500 ton vessel, which a lot of Owners are looking for but also at a very good price point for a steel hull with 4000nm range. She is great value for money. M/Y SCOUT is more of an expedition yacht with a layout conducive for Owners who like to spend a lot of time on board. Perfect for long range cruising. The Owner’s apartment suite is a very private area and is located on the upper deck. The current Owners spend a lot of time on board each season; it’s their second home.

The layout of the boat allows for the crew to co-exist with the Owners and is perfect for families. Guests can enjoy the comforts of the yacht with minimal interruptions from crew operations. We have a very large open sun deck that is not cluttered by the storage of toys and tenders. M/Y SCOUT’s tenders and water toys are kept on the expansive foredeck that is serviced by a large commercial style crane. The crew can launch tenders without interrupting any guest areas. That in itself is unique for a yacht of this size and it is very much in line with a true expedition style yacht.

You’ve done a lot of traveling on M/Y SCOUT, how does her design factor into the cruising experience?

M/Y SCOUT is designed by the legendary Ron Holland. He designed a great hull with an impressive flare and deeper draft that helps her ride very well in challenging seas. I’ve previously worked expedition yachts up to 58m, cruising the North and South Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. I’ve found M/Y SCOUT has a similar feel at sea to the larger expedition yachts you see out there. In addition to the award-winning hull design, the vessel has a set of zero-speed stabilizers, giving a very comfortable ride underway and at anchor.

We have been in offshore conditions on M/Y SCOUT that I wouldn’t normally take guests in had we been on other yachts I have captained of this size. This gives us the flexibility to make passages that might not be possible on another yacht and helps with keeping our guests comfortable throughout the longer passages offshore.

The Owner’s aft suite on the upper deck allows for comfortable overnight transits to maximize day activities and cover more ground over the season.

Water toys and tenders are hugely important on superyachts. What toys do you carry on M/Y SCOUT?

M/Y SCOUT has two enormous hydraulic hatches on the foredeck that open to reveal ample space for water toy storage. We carry jet-skis, bicycles and Seabobs, four kayaks and inflatable toys. We also keep our dive and snorkel equipment down there.

We carry two tenders on the foredeck.  A Novurania Chase 23, and a Novurania DL550 RIB. We use the Rib as our water sports tender for diving and beach landings. The Chase 23 is more for transferring guests ashore.

Basically, we have everything you can possibly need to explore the reefs and coastline and have a fun day on the water. The forward tender storage allows the crew to set up for the day’s activities, launch, recover and maintain tenders without any impact on the guests. It’s a great setup.

M/Y SCOUT has normally been based in the Greater Caribbean. Where have you been cruising recently?

This summer was our first Mediterranean season on M/Y SCOUT, so we wanted to show the Owners as much as possible.

We kicked off the season in the East in Bodrum, Turkey, and then made our way West through the Aegean Islands, which was superb. We then transited the Corinth Canal to Zakynthos, Kephalonia, and Corfu before jumping across to Sicily, where we spent a bit of time before heading up to the Bay of Naples and Capri, taking in the Amalfi Coast. That was a real highlight – it’s one of my favorite cruising grounds.

We have spent the final month of our season bouncing around the Riviera from St Tropez to Portofino. We were blessed with fantastic weather throughout.

It sounds like you’ve done a huge amount of cruising during your career. What is one of the most memorable yachting destinations that you’d like to go back to?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to date to have worked for very adventurous Owners. My early years on deck were spent in the Polynesia and the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand. I did many years on an expedition yacht for an Owner that was an avid saltwater fly fisherman and regularly donated his yacht for scientific research. We cruised extensively through the Indian Ocean and East Coast of Africa. One of my highlight destinations is the Seychelles. We were down there during the height of the Somali Piracy in 2009-2010. We cruised with armed security on board, which enabled us to reach the remote southern atolls of Cosmoledo and Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These trips were with Seychellois scientists on board performing research on the atolls. The Seychelles is one of those jewels on the planet that is so unknown to most.

I’ve also spent time on yachts in South East Asia. Singapore and Thailand are very memorable destinations. Then there are destinations that you spend much of your cruising time, but you need to remind yourself not to take them for granted. For me, this is the Caribbean. It has so much beauty and wonderful cruising destinations. Owners, guests and crew all love the Caribbean Winters season on M/Y SCOUT.

I know I speak for all crew in the industry that our hearts go out to all those in the Caribbean who have dealt with the hurricanes this season. The industry has really come together to show its support. The Islands will bounce back quickly and the yachts will keep going.

We spend a lot of time with M/Y SCOUT in the Bahamas, one of our favorite places. It’s the people, the stunning beaches and incredible color of the water that make it so special. We are very lucky in our profession to travel to so many stunning locations. It’s hard to pinpoint one specifically.

How did you get into the industry and how did you progress your career?

I discovered the yachting industry accidentally in 2003 when I was traveling through the US. I had a stint playing rugby for Newport, Rhode Island, and discovered yachting by chance seeing the yachts coming into Newport that summer.

I made some good friends and contacts in Newport then got the opportunity to join a yacht in the Caribbean that was heading to Australia through the Pacific. I worked my way up from a deckhand position.

I’ve been in the industry now for 14 years. I followed the principle of working hard and doing my time but always pursued my schooling to further my licensing whenever I had the opportunity. As I gained the valuable experience on deck, I progressed through the MCA licensing path. I had the opportunity to step up to Chief Officer on a circumnavigating expedition yacht and was eventually promoted to Master. I learned from some very experienced Captains along the way who became great mentors.

Do you have any career aspirations? Is there anything you’d like to accomplish in your industry?

I feel that I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career.  I’ve seen a lot of amazing places and worked for some fantastic Owners, with my wife by my side most of the way. I’ve now been with the Owners of M/Y SCOUT for 2 years. They have a great relationship with their crew. They value longevity and give the support needed for the crew to grow with them. I don’t see myself leaving this family anytime soon.

Article Submitted by Community Writer.

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