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On Water: Interview with Captain Jose Molina Salinas

On Water: Interview with Captain Jose Molina Salinas

Jan 1, 2022

Captain Jose Molina Salinas grew up in Majorca, Spain, amidst picturesque islands and aquamarine waters. He arrived in Singapore in March last year as skipper of 93-ft long ranger superyacht Sea Forever, which made its way to Asia later that year in May. The objective of this long distance trip was to explore the region and make the most of what the vessel had to offer—“it can cross half the world, and sail across the Pacific or Atlantic ocean on a full tank and without any support”, says Captain Salinas. Ideal as she is for cruising along Southeast Asian islands, COVID-19 has put a dampener on Sea Forever’s plans, and she has remained berthed at ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove. Nevertheless, Captain Salinas and his crew, which includes his chef wife and stewardess, remain busy keeping the yacht in shape and being on top of all its maintenance. We had a chat with Captain Salinas in the midst of his busy schedule.

How did you get into the yachting industry?

I came to this industry by accident. Although I grew up around the water, sailing was never on my radar and I explored many other professions. In 1994, when I finished mandatory military service, I was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life. My mother then introduced me to her friend who was in the boating business—he looked after the sail boats of people from the UK and Germany who had a second residence in Majorca. I started my yachting career on ground, washing, polishing and painting these boats before I started going out on sea trails to deliver boats from one port to another. That’s when I realised how beautiful it was out there. I love the water—I have been around it all my life—but until then I had never entertained the thought of working at sea.

How have your early experiences shaped you?

I grew up in a village and come from humble beginnings—my father was a plumber and my mother, a babysitter. So there was no one in my family who had aspirations of going to sea. My boss—my mother’s friend—was an experienced seaman and a very good teacher. I learnt a lot from him. Under him, I developed an interest in sailing and decided to make it my career. I went on to acquire a few licenses, and after a few years I started skippering between the Balearic islands before moving to bigger yachts, and now here I am with a long range superyacht. I really am enjoying every bit of my work.

Which among the places you have visited is your favourite?

My boss is a man of adventure so with the yacht we keep in Majorca we have sailed all over, from New York to the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas—which was the most memorable one for me. There are more than 7,000 islands in the Bahamas—which is impossible to cover even if you make multiple trips—so we chose Exuma. The moment we anchored near one of the smaller islands, we could see dark spots towards the boat. It’s when they got closer that we realised they are sharks and stingrays swimming under the yacht. That sight is etched in my memory. It was a great experience to be amidst such tranquil settings, and to just able to dive in, catch fresh lobster and serve breakfast to the guests on the deck with spectacular views of the clear turquoise blue waters with nothing else for miles away—just nature.

Have you had any unforgettable experiences while at sea?

Storms are part and parcel of this industry. But when bad weather hits, it is best to just sit it out and let it pass. But when you work in pleasure boats and charters, it’s not always in the captain’s hands. I have been in the midst of a few, but never out of choice. My worst experience was during a sailing race and I had to man a designated safety powerboat against my better judgement. We had to manoeuvre through six metre-high waves. Almost everyone was on the floor hanging on for dear life and battling seasickness. It was a really scary experience. I decided right then that I would never do it again. I am responsible for the life of everyone on the boat and it’s my job to be firm about it and educate them about the risks involved. Luckily my current boss is very understanding—he trusts my judgement when it comes to the weather.

How are you enjoying your stay here in Singapore?

I have been in Singapore as a tourist before, but its my first trip by sea. It has been an interesting experience familiarising myself with the regulations here, as well as the tidal conditions. My wife and I love travelling and meeting different people and learning about their cultures—it’s also part of our job as we have to usually scope the destinations we visit so we can advise our employers and their guests accordingly. Since we came in earlier than the yacht, we went around to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Raffles Hotel, Gardens By The Bay and other protected nature parks. Singapore is really beautiful, but though we like visiting cities, we love spending time with nature, listening to the birds and seeing the sea otters—we are country people at heart. The marina has been great as well. It’s beautiful with luxurious amenities. The staff is very friendly too. We will be leaving soon (in July 2021) to join another yacht, but hope to be back here after a few months to join Sea Forever again.

What advice would you give to others wanting to go to sea?

It’s not just about people wanting to go to sea but applies to everyone. Dream big and embrace whatever breaks you come across. This has been true in my life. I am a big dreamer, and I have also been very lucky to have realised many of my dreams. From becoming a captain to skippering a superyacht to scuba diving in some of the most picturesque dive spots in the world—and perhaps not necessarily in that order. Never stop dreaming. The sky is the limit.