#humansofyachting – Dean Pilatti
The captain of Ariance on building happy teams on board and passing on his experience to the next generation.
“I think I was six days old when my parents first put me into a waterskiing boat. I pretty much waterskied before I could walk. My parents had always been into it, and growing up in Perth meant that I was very much a water person right from the start.
After school, I did what lots of students do; left Australia to go backpacking and headed over to Europe. I didn’t know anything about the yachting industry back then, but when I saw my first superyacht in the South of France, I just knew it was for me. I started at the bottom and worked my way up, getting my captain’s licence in 2002.
I am truly privileged to be able to do what I do. I love my job so much that it doesn’t actually feel like work. One of the things that makes me the happiest is building a great team on board. I pay a lot of attention to mental health. Being a crew member is hard work, especially when there’s a charter, and they need to be able to pull out all the stops, but on the flip side of that, it’s important for them to be able to recover afterwards. It is key to get that balance right.
Dean with the crew of Ariance
Dean with the crew of Ariance
I also make sure that my colleagues have all the experience they need to be a captain when they leave. Old-school captains never gave up their drive time but now, I see it as my job to pass on my experience to the next generation. I’ve had my time and now is my chance to share what I’ve learned with others. It gives me great satisfaction.
I get so disgruntled when people get pushed aside because of race or gender – so when I met Jenny Matthews five years ago, we connected straight away. With She of the Sea, she is trying to get more of an equal balance which is something that I passionately believe in. She has also just launched LegaSea, a platform which promotes mentorships across the industry. I will be heavily involved in that.
I think there’s a bit of a changing of the guard at the moment – the younger generations are starting to take over the more significant roles across the industry which will naturally lead to more diversity. Similarly, environmental efforts are improving. I see crew making so much effort and making sure everything is set up properly. When I sit in the crew mess, I’ll see someone throw a piece of rubbish into the wrong bin and get called out for it. Five years ago, that wouldn’t have happened.
I won Charter Captain of the Year last year and have been nominated, along with the boat, this year too. I think that a successful charter boat really does come down to the crew. You can sell an average boat with an amazing crew but you can’t sell the best boat with an average crew. We do those extra little things that make all the difference and we are very much a family boat so we’ll look after the kids. If you make the kids’ holiday the best holiday they’ve had in their lives, the parents will love you forever. By 7 o’clock, they’ll be exhausted from the day’s activities and Mum and Dad can be free to enjoy the six-star service that’s waiting for them for the rest of the evening.
I’ve been very lucky with the owners I’ve worked with. The last boat I was on for 13 years, and the owner on Ariance is exceptionally good. He and I have a fantastic relationship. But your vibe attracts your tribe. I say that a lot to my crew, and I think it applies to owners too. The way that I am attracts the people that I end up working for.
In terms of destinations, I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite. In Europe, if I had the choice, I would always head to Croatia. There is no better cruising ground in the Mediterranean. I’d also like to get to Asia. It’s on the cards and next year we should be heading down to do Asia, Australia and New Zealand, so I am really looking forward to that.”