Charter Yacht Captain – Living the Dream

As captain of a luxury charter yacht, John Fleckenstein has an immense wealth of experience and stories. Today, he gives us some exciting insights in his tasks, which are more vocation than profession.

© MY Apogee, John Fleckenstein →

Captain John Fleckenstein

The 64-year-old American from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, has been sailing the world's oceans as a captain for over 30 years.

What does a typical working day of a captain on a charter yacht look like?

Working on a 62-meter motor yacht like Apogee with a first and second officer is fabulous. Besides my obligatory duties on the radio and telephone, I try to stay in the background with my crew and see how I can help with the day-to-day operations. I am lucky to have an unspeakably strong crew on board with whom I have a close exchange. Problems with the crew are generally sporadic in the charter, as our policy on board is one of respect and pride. All for one and one for all.

As for our charter guests, interaction with them is vital, as they are often repeat customers and are always happy to have a dialogue and a warm exchange on board.

What is the most exciting thing you get to experience as Charter Capitan?

I am addicted to the experiences of owners, guests, and crew. Inviting you as crew or captain to have dinner with the charter guests is always a highlight. Those are then hours full of exciting stories and diverse exchanges. The social component is one of the reasons I became a captain.

We practice service around the perfect meal for guests as we reassemble the yacht after an extensive nine-month refit. Excellence is our service's goal, which can come in many forms. Formal, relaxed, private, and interactive, I'm always looking with my crew to see exactly what fits best for the charter guests to make it perfect.

John, every long journey begins with the first step. How did you get into seafaring?

My first nautical experience was in the US Navy from 1976 to 1980. After that, I pursued a regular job on land and realized that my yearning for yachting was so great that I began a career as a crew member. However, the path to becoming a captain took more time than I thought. But the journey was more than worth it. It was the best career decision of my life to go for it.

M/Y APOGEE – At a Glance

Built in 2003 and refitted in 2019 and 2023, M/Y Apogee accommodates 12 guests in 7 cabins. With a cruising speed of 11.5 knots, 17 crew, and various social and dining areas, she is an ideal and exclusive place for relaxing and entertaining

© TWW Yachts →

What port or destination in the world should a captain not miss?

That's the beauty of my job - there are so many places worth exploring. Two of my all-time highlights are the SXM passage through the Simpson Bay bridge on St. Maarten. Maneuvering in 20 knots of wind, small boats all around, and a narrow channel with traffic - that's where the captain's skill is really challenged.

But I also love the anchorages at Shroud Cay, Exumas. There are sandbars, starfish, crystal clear water, and beach meals like nowhere else in the world, a paradise!

What would you say to a young child who wants to become a captain?

Let's get started! Whether you're five or nineteen, it's always good to have a mentor by your side at the beginning because it's a long journey if you want to make a career in yachting.

I've mentored several crew members from rookie to captain, chief engineer, purser, and chef. We've brought the sons and daughters of the crew on board to learn about yachting. And I see many smart, talented, respectful, and happy crew members coming through the ranks. And I will one day make room for the up-and-coming, positive-minded folks who want to work hard and reap the rewards of yachting! Then a new captain will be needed in the charter business.

© Amico & Co. & Freaklance ↓ 

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