Interview with First Mate Curtis

Curtis - First Mate

A day in the life with the First Mate of a private yacht in the Great Barrier Reef 

When a private yacht is your office, and the Great Barrier Reef is your playground, every single day is different. Curtis is First Mate on board Morris Nautical’s private yachts, the M.Y. Beluga and M.Y. Flying Fish, and here’s why he thinks he has the best job in the world.

No two days are ever the same

When out at sea, you’re always presented with new challenges and problems whilst being surrounded by blue ocean and vibrant coral. You’ve got to think outside the box, and I love the variety that brings. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

One team, one dream 

During charters, I’m the middleman between the Captain and crew, ensuring his orders are completed properly, and assisting crew in completing those tasks. 

We’re all committed to ensuring our guests make the most of their time on board – whether that’s diving, snorkelling, a beach picnic or a spot of fishing. 

Early bird gets the worm 

During charters, I will wake up around 5am, and after a quick breakfast I do a spot clean of the vessel before guests wake up – for any sneaky bird poops that have appeared during the night! I’ll normally have a chat with guests during breakfast to gauge their plans for the day and see what sort of adventures they could be keen for. We design the day around them – they might want to explore a new island or try their hand at ocean fishing. 

I’ll prepare our tender “Flying Cutlass” for the activities of the day, and then run ahead to set up if a beach picnic or island explore is on the cards. Guests are usually back on board for lunch. If we’re moving on to a new spot, it’s time to pack down the vessel and tender so we can transit to our next site for the afternoon. 

A night at sea

One of the greatest experiences on board is the transition of evening to night; from the early orange hues in the sky while the sun descends to the pinks and purples as it dips below the horizon for the day. 

As the day is winding down for guests, I’ll pack and wash all the equipment, and give the vessel another look over before heading in for dinner. Whilst guests are having dinner, I’ll do a last walk around the vessel ensuring the tender and all equipment on board is secure. I’ll normally catch up with the skipper to debrief on the day and go over plans for the night watch and the following day. Then I’ll retreat to my cabin for the night.

Sleeping on board is easy. The sun is replaced by a blanket of stars and the celestial river that is the Milky Way, brighter and clearer than I’ve seen anywhere else. As you retire to bed, you’re rocked gently to sleep by the ocean and the sounds of it lapping the hull below you. 

tailored luxury yacht cruise great barrier reef

A career in maritime tourism 

I became interested in boating and yachting when studying marine biology at school. 

I’ve been involved in the maritime tourism industry for almost a decade. I started out as a dive instructor in Indonesia for two years, before returning to Australia to study marine biology. While studying, I worked as a dive instructor and became president of Townsville’s JCU Dive Club. I loved the logistics and maintenance that comes with the operational side of vessels.

Finishing my degree, I was fortunate enough to be given a role as a coxswain and dive instructor on Orpheus Island Lodge. I lived on the island for two years, gaining a few more qualifications before transitioning over to Morris Nautical as a first mate on M.Y. Beluga and M.Y. Flying Fish.


Preparing to be first mate 

Being first mate on board two great vessels is a real privilege. We have the chance to show visitors from countries far and wide this truly amazing part of the world. 

Along with a Bachelor in Science, majoring in Marine Biology, my certifications include Master <24m, Coxswain, STCW, PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor rating, and I’m about to complete my Marine Engine Driver Grade 2 qualification in October. I’m also a qualified emergency first response instructor. You’ve always got to be prepared at sea!


Learn more about Morris Nautical charters here

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