Meet the Eternal Spark Crew: Captain Mark Everard
As a new build approaches her finishing stages, there is always an electricity in the air; a tingle of excitement and expectations, as final bits fall into place and m/y Eternal Spark is finally ready to hit the water. But, before that happens, a lot of things need to fall into place. To make that happen, the West Istanbul Marina welcomed the new crew of Eternal Spark , with Captain Mark Everard at the helm. Overseeing the finishing touches on the yacht, Captain Mark is preparing himself, his crew and the vessel for what seems to be a very bright charter future. I had a chance to talk with Captain Mark, about his experiences in Istanbul, about the construction process and about himself, most importantly his hopes and plans for Eternal Spark.
Can you share more about your background and your exposure to yachting; how did it all start?
My father was a professional sailor taking part in many of the big regattas through the 1970s and 80s including the America’s Cup. I would spend a lot of the summer holidays with him in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and around boats.
When I was 19 I left school and joined a large Maxi racing yacht and spent a year traveling between Europe and the Caribbean racing and carrying out corporate commitments for the sponsor. Once I returned to the UK I left the yacht and decided to get a real job and eventually became a Land Rover salesman for 5 or 6 years, however after spending hours commuting every day decided that I needed a change and it was time to go back to sea.
So in January 2000 I headed down to the Isle of Wight and enrolled on a watersports instructor course at the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA). Whilst there I became a dinghy, windsurf, kayak, PWC (Jet Ski) and powerboat instructor as well as taking my Yachtmaster qualification. After my training, I stayed on firstly as a watersports instructor and then as part of the management team running the yachting courses.
In 2003 I decided to leave UKSA and start working onboard yachts, my first position was running an 18m motor yacht around mainland Spain and the Balearics, and then I moved on to 22 & 24m sailing yachts. I was lucky enough that these yachts cruised the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the Pacific NW of Canada, California, and Mexico.
I decided I would like to be based nearer to home and be based in the Med and also wanted to get back onboard Motor Yachts. I was lucky enough to be offered the position of Captain of a newly built 27m yacht which was in the last few months of construction, the owner of which also had a new 33m hull in build – once the 27m was launched I started to oversee the 33m also. During my time with this owner, we also built a 46m charter yacht (my first yacht built in Turkey).
Since then my career has progressed up until now where I am overseeing Eternal Spark, my 9th new build and 2nd in Turkey. I have experienced new builds from Turkey, Italy and the UK on various sizes both private and charter.
Having overseen new builds in the past, what strategies do you employ in the current process i.e. overseeing the final phases of Eternal Spark?
It is a balancing act between keeping the build on track, meeting owners’ expectations and working closely with the shipyard to achieve this. The relationship with the yard is crucial for completion but also for moving forward over the years with warranty etc. With any yacht, there are always a few challenges along the way and plenty of questions to answer but with a good team in place, these are usually easily overcome.
Are there specific aspects of motor yacht Eternal Spark, that you are particularly excited to explore in the future?
I am looking forward to getting the yacht finally set up and cruising, once operational the exterior areas are going to be amazing and I am particularly looking forward to setting up the outdoor cinema at anchor on a warm clear night!
That does sound amazing…But, back to the topic…Can you share your approach to crew selection for a new vessel, and how are you integrating them into the final stages of preparation?
Crew selection is always the difficult part as you want to put a team together who are all focused on working towards the same goal and also get on well. I am lucky that over the years I have built up many good teams and have several members who have worked with me before, for instance, the Chief Officer, Adam, has worked with me since 2016 and has been involved in 5 new builds with me.
We know each other very well, know how each other works and know what needs to be done. There are a few other members of the team on board whom I have worked with previously.
With an entirely new crew on board Eternal Spark, what strategies are you implementing to foster team cohesion?
That comes down to choosing the right people from the start who you feel are going to get on and work well together and who can also enjoy each others company outside of work. We all live in one house at present and it is a good way of getting to know each other. We also try and all go out together or have days out together. Although frowned upon by several of the team (I am definitely one of them !) we have a crew gym session every morning before work, allegedly it’s good for us !!
A crew gym session is definitely a new one for me, but it does sound interesting; the team living and “breathing” under one roof. But, I suppose it is no different than a yacht – the team needs to work and live in close quarters, whilst striving towards a common goal.
As you’re currently in Istanbul overseeing the final touches on m/y Eternal Spark , can you provide insights into the progress and any unique features or aspects of the yacht that you find particularly noteworthy?
The yacht is progressing well, it may seem to those new to new builds that not much is happening, but every day I see progress and it all comes together quickly towards the end. Right now, we are in the middle of painting the structure and hull, teak decks are going down and interior fit-out is starting.
How does your experience with overseeing seven new builds align with the processes and standards at Bilgin Yachts, in the context of a 50-meter, 499 GT luxury yachts?
It is actually 9 new builds and my second in Turkey, 5 of my builds were in Italy, and 2 in the UK. Compared to them all I am very impressed with the level of workmanship that I have seen so far. My last yacht was also a 50m, 499GT and the quality and workmanship from Bilgin is above that so far.
So sorry about the build number; I must have miscalculated, looking at your rich and impressive resume… Anyways, what unique features or design elements of Eternal Spark do you believe set her apart from other yachts you’ve worked on, and how do these impact the overall cruising experience?
The exterior spaces onboard Eternal Spark are vast, the bow area for guests is a great multi-purpose area for lying in the sun, a sunrise workout, watching a movie on the outdoor screen or pre-dinner cocktails at sunset.
Also, the beach club area is going to be the social hub while enjoying watersports, swimming or sessions in the sauna.
How is your collaboration with Bilgin Yachts and SuperYachts Croatia during the final stages, and how do you address any adjustments that may arise? Is something “lost in translation”?
We have a good relationship with the build team at the yard and we have regular meetings throughout the week to discuss any issues that arise or answer questions.
The language barrier can sometimes be difficult but the build team speaks English and Google Translate and drawings often help !!
Looking ahead, how do you anticipate the yacht’s usage in the coming months? – What are your post-delivery plans and expectations?
Over the next few months we will enter the final stages of fit-out, trials, commissioning, and finally delivery, once the yacht is delivered we will head around to the Western Mediterranean and get ready for a busy summer of charter for Eternal Spark, her crew and guests.
After the formal part of the interview, the Captain and I talked about possible future charter locations for Eternal Spark .
Mentioning Spain and the Balearics as primary points of interest, the captain also pointed out Sardinia and Corsica as locations that have great charter potential. Finally, the Italian west coast was also mentioned as a possible charter hub.
For all the readers wanting to discover more about Eternal Spark`s potential charter destinations, keep an eye out for official news on the website.