CAPTAIN Yogeswaran Gopal Krishnan first stumbled across what would turn out to be a lifelong passion for sailing when he accompanied his friend to work on a ship as a crew member. Fifteen years later, he now has six years of captaining experience under his belt.

“This job holds a lot of responsibility,” he said. “I need to ensure the ship is safe for both guests and crew members.”

In order to do this, Yoge, as he would like to be called, stressed the importance of checking the boat for damages, inspecting its engine and ensuring that there is enough fuel before it can set sail. At the end of the day, the captain, along with his crew members, has to make sure that the ship is clean for taking on the next guests.

Taking the wheel

Being a ship captain does not go without challenges, and the weather conditions faced at sea have proven to be one of the most difficult to deal with.

“I mostly have to battle incessant rain and fierce winds while sailing,” Yoge explained.

When asked whether there was a challenge that most people would not expect a captain to face, he expressed concern about some guests’ lack of ability to follow the rules. According to him, there was a time when a woman was not listening to the set of rules. She was running on the top of the boat which was wet.

She slipped and fell on her arm. The crew immediately called the office management to inform them about the situation and set the woman on a speedboat. She was rushed to the hospital. It was later informed that she had broken her arm.

In order to overcome these challenges, there is a litany of skills and traits that a captain of a cruise ship needs to possess.

“You have to be strict and firm,” Yoge said. “You have to be able to lead a team of individuals, especially during a crisis on board.”

Muhammad Idzwan Aizat Zairinzin, an aspiring junior captain under the guidance of Yoge, has had his fair shares of highs and lows during his sailing experience. Muhammad Idzwan recalls a time when the weather had taken a toll on his boat and affected its engines.

“I panicked and immediately called the office management through the radio to acquire assistance,” he said.

He also spoke of his job taking his time away from his wife and two young daughters.

“I was once away from home, sailing for seven months. I missed them deeply,” he said.

Despite the challenges faced by the two captains, they never failed to carry out their duties professionally.

“If I leave the marina with 60 people on board, I will bring all 60 of them back unharmed. That is what I’m proud of,” Yoge said.

Originally from Penang, the 32-year-old described the basic training he underwent as demanding but rewarding. From a simple man who knew nothing about sailing, he has become the captain of the Seasation, a catamaran ship in Tropical Charters in Langkawi, in a span of nine years.

On top of learning how to swim, handle a boat and tie the ropes at the marina, he had to learn about safety on board, and how to use a GPS monitor and navigate by reading the winds, tides and the stars in case of an emergency.

“My training was challenging, but it depends on your interest. If you’re interested in it, you will learn. If you’re not, then you won’t,” he said.

As an expert in the field, his advice to aspiring ship captains is to learn everything you possibly can about sailing, especially the way that a sailboat works.

“As long as you know how to sail, if you wanted, you could travel anywhere in the world,” he said.

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