An up close and personal talk with the captain of mv Yacht Servant - DYT Yacht Transport

An up close and personal talk with the captain of mv Yacht Servant

A Rotterdammer sailing a ship with Amsterdam printed on her hull.

Patrick Nowee started sailing when he was 20. Sailing has always been his passion and his life, and it still is. But it’s no surprise really, it runs in his father’s family. The stories and growing up in the South of Rotterdam near the old ports have ensured that he started sailing.

The Yacht Servant has just left Rotterdam to take its load to Port Everglades. She was on her way to Barbados and Le Marin (Martinique) to load yachts for Genoa. But Captain Patrick Nowee is now sailing east of the Azores – a little detour due to the poor Atlantic Ocean weather – but he is on his way to the sun. Four large yachts and several tenders will be loaded in Port Everglades, and then he will sail onwards towards Barbados where the Yacht Servant will be unloaded.

Wonder at the elements
When nature shows its strongest side and reminds us that we are not the ones pulling the strings, those are the moments that Patrick enjoys the most. It’s the feeling of being very small, leaning in against the wind and the waves, and endlessly watching what is happening outside, observing how Mother Nature operates. The Captain likes to marvel at the elements, at the highest waves, and the heaviest wind.

At home on the water
Naturally, the sea also gives him a certain sense of freedom. Indeed, setting out to sea on a ship helps you let things go. It is always calm at sea. Patrick loves that. He can do his own thing, on his own time and in his way. The water gives him a powerful feeling of infinity and independence. Once you have experienced that, you are infected with some kind of virus. You leave everything behind, while the wind blows through your hair and you allow a sense of open-mindedness and bliss to take hold of you on the way to enjoy a maritime adventure for a few months. The Yacht Servant has two permanent captains: Patrick and his so-called back-to-back. Both sail four months on and four months off. In this way, there is always someone at home for Christmas, and the summer holidays are split the same way.

I’m away from home for four months, which means I miss a lot; but then I’m home again for four months and I can dedicate myself to my home and being a dad.

Far from home
Of course, he has lonely moments on the ship as well, but nowadays there are so many options on board that make communication with home and family very easy. Technology such as Teams, WhatsApp, phone calls, and Facetime reduce the number of lonely moments and make a home seem not so far away. Patrick finds it quite easy to combine sailing with his private life. The balance they have at home is what he and his wife feel good about. When he is at home, he is not distracted with work. He has occasionally looked at other employment options, and he has even worked in an office. Still, he says: “In these situations, you have to leave the house early in the morning and don’t get home until the end of the day. If you’re lucky, you get to grab a bite together.” For many people that’s a good balance, but not for Patrick and his family. And to make it easy, his wife is a flight attendant. She flies part-time, so she is sometimes away from home for a few days as well.

From A to B as best and safely as possible
As a captain, you oversee the entire logistics process and ensure the crew does what they have to do. Patrick is the contact between the ship and the office: the technical service, operations, crewing, finance, and, obviously, with all the ports in which they arrive. There is also a first mate and chief engineer on board, but they are much more concerned with the ship’s duties. The engineer is, of course, more concerned with the technical side. But together they ensure the ship gets underway so the cargo can be transported from A to B as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.

I am only as good as the people around me.

Patrick is currently on board with a fairly permanent team. Together they watch over the ship, cargo, and crew to ensure everything and everyone is safe. Patrick likes to go to places where they can do the work well together. Yacht transport is a real service, he says. We do it for customer satisfaction. “Most yachts have charter guests on board, and we need to treat the yacht owners – and captains – as charter guests so that next time they say: The crossing with DYT was great, I want to make the return journey with them.”

Is the Yacht Servant a real “wow” to sail in?
For what the ship does and what she can do, this is next-level stuff, he says, but for Patrick, the Yacht Servant is just a ship. It’s his job. It is a somewhat larger and more modern ship. It all works better than the other ships on which he has sailed. And he especially likes the controlled sinking or submerging work.

It is simply against human nature to sink a vessel. The first time you run the calculations 30 times to make sure nothing can go wrong.

The Yacht Servant is truly a monster of a ship. It is the largest and most technological vessel of the Spliethoff fleet. For a yacht owner, the float-on float-off system is super easy because the boat only needs to be sailed in. The lines are attached, and then it’s done. There’s nothing else to do. DYT’s regular customers know our track record. DYT is simply a fantastic and reliable company.

How does the loading process work?
When we book a load, it goes through to a loadmaster. We receive a cribbing plan from the loadmaster and ensure the cribbing is prepared. Cribbing is nothing more than blocks of wood that we position in the dock for a yacht, river cruiser, or barge to stand on. When we get to the harbor, we start pre-ballasting before the water enters the dock. The final preparations are made and the watertight doors are closed. We then start ballasting and submerging (controlled sinking) to a depth agreed with the loadmaster. This can be quite intensive with yachts. They are sailed in, lines are secured, and then our divers enter the water. The yachts are dried in the dock, divers show which yachts will hit the blocks first and yachts get sea-fastened. The whole process requires a lot of attention from both ship and crew, office, and loadmasters.


Last year in Port Everglades I had two loadmasters and 15 divers in the water. There were five divers in front, five in the middle, and five in the back. It was a fairly intensive exercise.

Service on board
Once the divers are out of the water, the yachts are connected to the ship’s network by the electrician. They receive cooling water to run the AC units directly from the fire extinguishing system. This means the pumps will start to work again, and the occupants can shower on board again. The transition must be arranged properly and quickly.

The Yacht Servant can take an additional 30 staff members on board (riders, service engineers, deckheads, etc.). They have two weeks on board to put their yachts in order. For example, if they want to clean the underwater hull, we can offer them the use of a high-pressure sprayer. We are continuously providing a service to our customers.

“If they sail over themselves, our customers will be busy for about four weeks. And then they will need a full crew to get from A to B. They are also seasonal because the weather is too bad in the spring or autumn and yet they often have to sail. But a crossing with the Yacht Express or the Yacht Servant means a large part of the crew can go home. Usually, two crew members stay on board for minor maintenance and cleaning work. The captain can then come back on board in Palma de Mallorca or Genoa two weeks later with a few crew members who have been on leave. The yacht is then completely ready to sail again, and the crew can start the charter season refreshed.” Patrick says.

On board the Yacht Servant, we also offer relaxation in the riders’ lounge. There is a TV, a DVD player, a PlayStation, table football, an air hockey system, and, of course, a good coffee machine to make yourself a nice latte if needed. In addition, the Yacht Servant also has a swimming pool and a fairly large gymnasium to ensure customers do not lack anything in terms of exercise.

And we are also busy carrying out maintenance, such as painting, cleaning and sometimes resolving small technical problems, while sailing on the Yacht Servant. Together they ensure everything looks neat for the next port and cargo. The forklift trucks are prepared and the cribbing for the next yacht trip is set up. This ensures they can immediately give their attention to the cargo when they enter a port.

The best memories
Patrick has been to Russia twice during his time with BigRoll, which was the joint venture between Biglift and RollDock. He sailed from the Bering Strait to Norway, and from Norway back to the Bering Strait. The Bering Strait is the strait between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. It is 82 kilometers wide and has an average depth of 30-50 meters. It was given the name in honor of the Danish explorer, Vitus Bering. The sea has many species of animals and plants. It is considered an important marine ecosystem. When Patrick was there, he thought: “I will not experience this very often. The nature, the silence, and everything I saw was breathtakingly beautiful. I felt really small when I was there with nothing around me except for ice floes carrying up to 300 sea lions. It was magical!”

Unfortunately, with the war and the boycotts, we can’t go there anymore. And the Yacht Servant can’t get there because the ship does not have an ice class.

Captain’s wishes
His wish list includes the Northern Lights and the winter voyage of the Yacht Express from the Caribbean to Central America, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and back again. “They can call me in for that. And I have an extra month to spare for it as well.”

He also says he is a real team player. “As long as everyone on board is having a good time, knows what responsibility he or she has and whom to contact if something goes wrong, then I am a happy person.”

And when a crew member says, “I hope I get to sail with you again,” Patrick is a satisfied man.