|And the Winner Is...|
The Superyacht Society’s Individual Distinguished Crew Award goes to a globetrotting captain.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler — February 2003
There's been a lot of talk in the megayacht community about establishing and maintaining professional standards for crew. But what makes a good crew member? On November 1 the Superyacht Society went a long way toward defining it in honoring Capt. Phil Walsh of the 151-foot Turmoil with its Individual Distinguished Crew Award, as someone who exemplifies the highest standards to which professional crew aspire.
Walsh's crew nominated him because of his leadership and seamanship capabilities. An besides his on- water expertise, his credentials are impressive. He was one of the first captains to get an MCA ticket and is a licensed airplane pilot as well as a certified ice pilot. The Canadian government, along with several other countries, requires this latter certification for yacht skippers to traverse ice-laden waters. In their nomination, his crew also commented that he was just a great guy to work for, and because of that he has an excellent history of loyalty with his crews. In short, Walsh is the kind of captain who sets the bar high.
A native Australian, Walsh, who hails from Sydney, began his nautical wanderings as a professional yacht racer on the maxi sailboat circuit in the mid 1970's. "It was all fun and excitement in those days," he says. But as he and his buddies watched many of the larger cruising sailboats going to and from the Caribbean, Walsh began to imagine that it would be nice to give up the hectic racing schedule and exchange it for the laid-back, easy-going style of palm trees, piña coladas, and white sandy beaches.
His chance came when he and a friend were offered work on a boat heading to the Caribbean. "It was all good as far as remunerations were concerned, and the work, second nature to me, was easy." After that he kept meeting owners with bigger and bigger boats.
Walsh recalls that the sailboats were fun, but after 15 years working on them, it was time for a change. "I finally decided to leave the big sailboats, most likely because I was getting tired of it," he says. "You see, I'm machinery-minded and hands-on and--well, on the boats I was skippering, I had to crawl around the engine spaces. The logical step was getting on a big powerboat."
Opportunity knocked in the form of a 128-foot Feadship named Monaco. Based in South Florida, Walsh and Monaco plied the Caribbean charter season in the winter and he delivered megayachts such as Carmac and Pilar to Europe for the summer Med season. And the rest, as they say, is history.
For the past four years he has been at the helm of Turmoil, an expedition-style yacht built by Palmer Johnson that has, under his hand, logged some 25,000 NM annually on her owner's global program. While she is a well-appointed yacht, her owner is an adventurous type who is concerned about the natural world. To that end, part of Turmoil's mission is to study the effects of global warming on the environment.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.