Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

Tom Milton and Liberty Nogueira

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

Tom Milton and Liberty Nogueira

Kinship

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

Two crew members from this busy superyacht take time out to explain why they love what they do.

By Dominique Afacan | 24 July 2020

It only takes a quick scan of the Gene Machine Instagram page to see that this is a superyacht where the crew are a big part of the picture. From end of season pizza parties in Italy and water sports in the Bahamas to charity bike rides and kitesurfing in Sardinia, it seems like everyone, from the captain to the newest crew member, Nicky, a gorgeous Samoyed puppy, is having the time of their life.

Liberty Nogueira has been on board for two years, starting out as a deckhand before being promoted to bosun earlier this year. “As deck crew, we have very high standards, and we all work well together to achieve that, but more importantly we have a lot of fun doing it along the way. Finding that balance is key,” she explains.

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

Gene Machine

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

Gene Machine

There are 14 crew on the boat, and with owners who spend a lot of time on board, summers tend to be long, running from May to September. Luckily, it seems that friendships form quickly on board. “After my first few weeks on Gene Machine, I felt like I had definitely been there for longer,” says Nogueira. “I was very lucky that I was sharing a cabin with someone who I now consider to be a very close friend, and we clicked immediately. Having a sense of humour is a big factor – there’s no shortage of friendly banter on board!”

For Tom Milton, the yacht’s chief officer, who has been on board for just under four years, the destinations the boat travels to are a big part of what makes his job so rewarding. “The first trip I did with Gene Machine was up to the Arctic – it was a pretty big summer and we ended up cruising over 9,500 nautical miles. Doing a trip like that takes you out of your comfort zone; you’re not just anchored off St Tropez, and that also helps bonds develop between crew.”

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

The crew of Gene Machine at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

The crew of Gene Machine at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show

Milton recalls the 24-hour daylight up in the Arctic along with wildlife-spotting straight out of a David Attenborough documentary. “One night I was on watch with the captain and we saw two blue whales. We ended up following them for about two hours. Everyone woke up – it was epic.”  One of his other memorable moments was closer to home in Sweden. “That same summer, we also did all of the locks in Sweden and ended up going 44 metres above sea level and then went to the biggest inland lake in Europe. I think only two superyachts have ever been there before which was pretty incredible.”

Milton describes a yacht where the closely-knit crew tend to eat together, work together and even exercise together, via their onboard running club, all competing against each other on Strava. Nogueira backs this up, recalling a 15km crew hike in Positano, which involved everyone waking up at 3am. She describes a family ambience on board. “All families love and look out for one another but are a little bit dysfunctional right?”

Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine
Crew camaraderie on board Gene Machine

“We have a lot of interaction with the guests which I think is important,” she continues. “From organising fun events, to helping the kids with their science projects, to the owner informing the crew on the latest covid discoveries, there is a lot of communication between guests and crew.” Nogueira is referring to the yacht’s owner, Dr Jonathan Rothberg, who also happens to be an American scientist and entrepreneur. During lockdown, he developed a rapid, affordable Covid-19 testing kit from his lab on board, which is currently seeking FDA approval.

For Milton, interaction with Dr Rothberg and his family is a real pleasure. “I’ve got quite a close bond with the owners,” he says. “The relationship we have with the guests is one of the things I especially enjoy – after all, I’m a people person, I like making sure that everyone is having a good time.” With five children on board, that can make for busy days and hectic schedules, but it all comes with the territory. “The people on board are all very passionate about this boat and its reputation so they enjoy the work that we do.”

Nogueira agrees. “I have been very lucky to work with some great people on board Gene Machine who have invested in me and my career. Naturally, fourteen people living and working in close quarters will have their problems, but at the end of the day we are all working together for a common goal, which is to make sure the guests are safe and happy.”

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