The latest edition of our “Passion for the sea” series, focusing on the talent and experienced individuals throughout our team, features MB92 Barcelona dockmaster, Carlos Martínez, whose extensive experience and knowledge are so vital when planning and coordinating around 50 superyacht dry dockings and haul outs every year in the Barcelona facilities. Having worked each side of the manoeuvre, his empathy and understanding is a key success factor for clients where effective and efficient communication can make the difference.
I grew up in Madrid, so about as far away from the sea as you can imagine, but spent my childhood summers in Santander where seeing the merchant ships with their sheer size (I couldn’t fathom how they remained afloat) captured my imagination. So, when I decided that a career in physics wasn’t for me, I was drawn back to the wonder of those childhood memories and ventured upon a career tied to the sea and trained to be a deck officer.
I started my life on board merchant ships where, having reached first officer, following 6 or 7 years at sea, I moved ashore and joined the container terminal in Barcelona. Specialised in non-standard container cargo, my role involved planning and arranging the loading and unloading of cargo, and there I gained a new perspective on ship stress and stability. I spent 4 or 5 years there before joining Union Naval which later became part of MB92 Barcelona as dockmaster. I learned on the job and was fortunate to gain so much from the experienced hands around me, something I value above most others, and sharing knowledge is something I have always encouraged in my team during my 11 years here.
While at the container terminal, my role after a while became quite repetitive. At the end of the day, once you have a good understanding of the technical areas involved, it didn’t pose the same challenge. Working with yachts is completely different. For example, preparing a cradle requires a different approach for each haul out, and that is before the variants from one in the dry dock compared to the floating dock and shiplift where an increased wind factor needs to be calculated. So, for me, the variety of challenge is a big factor.
In addition, there is such a variety of skill involved in every haul out and being in contact with so many professionals is a real pleasure. From the carpentry in preparing blocks and the experienced divers, to our team and the crew managing the lines. So much goes unseen but is such a valuable asset in each and every manoeuvre.
There is such a variety of skill involved in every haul out and being in contact with so many professionals is a real pleasure.
Personally, I believe it is the pursuit of excellence that is most important – there is no such thing as a 100% perfect manoeuvre, there is always room to improve. One of the things that I value in my team is the desire to constantly improve and learn. While many of the principles of the role have not changed since I started out, we have seen such a change in the size and design of superyachts in the last 20 years and this evolution will continue so we can never stand still.
Firstly, you need to love the job. The day before a manoeuvre, I still get those “pre-match” nerves I had before my first haul out. This comes from my passion for the job and desire for the team to perform to our best. In the role you are one piece of a team that all need to work in harmony to deliver so having the ability to direct a team is also a vital success factor. To know when to push or encourage or communicate effectively under stress are all essential to be a good leader. Finally, having experience on board helps as it gives you that empathy with captains and crew, to understand what is required from their side to achieve the best results on any manoeuvre.
Patience. The best advice I received was not to try to rush but to watch and learn. Many times, in my early days I was told to just go and watch manoeuvres in order to gain an understanding of the overall picture. Sometimes we can be impetuous and our motivation to jump headfirst into things can result in us missing the important details.
With yachts everything is customised, and clients provide us a docking plan and stability booklet in advance of most manoeuvres. In the future, I am sure that more and more information will be made available via digital platforms (similar to the comprehensive data used in container terminals) and the software and technology will accompany this in the design and implementation of cradles and manoeuvre planning.