Interview with the captain

Martino Motti interview with Carlo Cavallo

Where are you from Captain?

I’m Italian from North Italy, I was born 56 years ago in La Spezia a sea port town overlooking the Ligurian Sea.

How did you get involved with the sea?

Well as I’ve just mentioned I was born in a sea port town and was soon very impressed by the commercial port as well as the naval base of the Italian Navy. Imagine the Navy’s building was virtually next to the one I lived in. Some of my relatives were seafarers and I would be often fascinated and attracted by their accounts and tales of their adventurous crossings: in a nutshell my destiny was clearly that. I have been attracted to the sea ever since childhood and it has played an important role in my life.


After finishing school proper as it were I went on to University for a couple of years, but I was neither overjoyed nor really convinced I was doing the right thing, so I left and decided to go to sea. I soon discovered that merchant ships were not what I was looking for and in those years yachts were far and few between in our waters. The Gulf of La Spezia lived off commercial shipping, the Navy and to a lesser degree fishing. Hence a painful decision was taken and reluctantly off I went.

Which are your early recollections of the sea and boats?

Well as a child I used to be always attracted to boats and sea. And ships often triggered off inspiration and made me wonder as they slowly left the port. At ten I began to row or sail out in small open boats, to me it was like crossing oceans and that is when passion for boating got me.

How was the impact with work proper?

It was something gradual which developed over years until I began to crew responsibly which entailed accumulating know how and experience enough to make a solid career of it.

Your initial experiences at sea?

They were on sailing yachts and by today’s standards they were tiny, yet my innate spirit of adventure and daring attitude I possessed in the course of those years underscored my experience.

Preceding commands?

I dare say for more than thirty years and nearly always over long periods. For example I’ve been working with the same company now for approximately ten years.

Which are the main features of the yacht you are currently in command of?

You’re looking at a San Lorenzo 35 metre motor yacht which was delivered in the course of last summer and we’re currently carrying out a number of small jobs with the yard’s assistance. I must say we’re talking about details as the yacht cruises very well and is built with cutting edge technology. The yacht is propelled by a pair of 900 Kw MTU engines which deliver a top speed of 17.5 knots with a recommended cruising speed of 12.5 knots. Imagine that at 11 knots the yacht’s range is of 2,750 nautical miles. Two Kohler gen. sets of 70 and 50 Kw respectively ensure more than what is needed to power up and run everything on board including stabiliser fins, bow and stern thruster props, navigational aids and additional Furuno safety gear.
The interior decor the owners requested is typically minimalist yet welcoming while sporting Italian styling which is much appreciated everywhere. The interior layout along the lower deck houses four guest cabins two of which are doubles and the remaining two are with twin beds plus a foldaway bunk bed in one of the remaining two. The owner’s suite is situated along the main deck where there is plenty of room for the main saloon area. Climbing up the staircase to the upper deck, housing the helm controls station there’s another yet smaller and more functional saloon /lounge area. Proceeding further up you come to a generous sun deck ideal for tan fans with a considerable hydro massage tub. Plenty of additional external space all round translates into panoramic views out in the open air for guests to enjoy and not only.

Your favourite Marina?

The winter season is normally spent in Porto Mirabello a welcoming touristic port which is tucked into the Gulf of La Spezia. It offers great shelter, it is safe and is also a stone’s throw away from the city centre which is a great advantage to those on board. Adjacent to the Marina itself there’s a readily available efficient ship yard.

Your preferred route?

We leave la Spezia behind at the beginning of the season usually at the end of May and point our bow southward stopping off in the most popular spots in Mediterranean waters. I am very fond of the South of Italy most of all Sicily which to me is appreciably more genuine than many other places.

Which do you consider as being major innovations that have been significant to the yachting world and why?

Modern yachts are completely dependent on electronics, probably too much.
Nevertheless navigational aids and more so, safety gear and standards deployed in search and rescue operations at sea are efficient and have reached high standards, even when considering that research and development never stops and we’re sometimes presented with futuristic looking gizmos and tools.

What is your worst recollection as ship’s captain?

By nature I am cautious enough but going down memory lane to what happened many years ago when there was no internet, I will always remember we were sailing from Sardinia over to the island of Minorca and the weather forecast on the VHF was wrong, there was no mention of worsening conditions and sure enough we sailed into a storm off the bottom end of Gulf of Lion. We managed to reach our way point safely and sound with no damage but it is something I will never forget.

What do you think about your role as captain and of the yachting world you work in?

I am convinced the role of captain on any superyacht is a delicate and complex affair. It is by no means easy to reconcile a reality where crew, guests and owners live. Often enough nationalities differ but this is also one of the more interesting job related aspects perhaps. Making ends meet within the allotted budget often requires expert juggling on these very costly yachts. Luckily enough there are service companies like Plus Marine® from Genoa which offer uniforms for crew, deck technical supplies, security, food and beverage and more which greatly simplifies our work. Today in spite of my age I’m still winning and can carry out my job with passion, I’d never substitute it for anything else.