Blog > Captain Spotlight: Interview with Darrel Hearne, M/Y Angeleyes 85 Ft

Captain Spotlight: Interview with Darrel Hearne, M/Y Angeleyes 85 Ft

by Dayle Reimer on Jun 22, 2023

Captain Spotlight: Interview with Darrel Hearne, M/Y Angeleyes 85 Ft

The 85 ft Horizon motor yacht, Angeleyes, made a big splash when she entered the charter market in 2019. Not only is the yacht absolutely gorgeous, she has aboard one of the top crews in the Caribbean. 

Captain Darrel Hearne has been at the helm these past 4 years and is one of the many reasons for the incredible success they have enjoyed. In fact, in 2021 Angeleyes was featured on the Netflix series "The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals!". A perfect description of the amazing charter experience aboard this phenomenal yacht.


Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Captain Darrel and learn more about his life as a charter yacht captain and a behind-the-scenes look at the very human side of yachting.

  • What inspired you to become a yacht charter captain, and how did you get started in this profession?

Well, I used to be an accountant and I grew up 500 miles from the nearest ocean, so it was really a natural progression and the obvious next step for me. Actually, I’m not sure where the idea came from; I heard about a school friend who ended up in the Caribbean when I was in college, and that planted the seed, I think. I was 33 when I finally got sick of ten hours of staring at a computer screen and three hours of commuting every day, so I quit my job, sold my house and went to sailing school (my first day of sailing school was the first time I ever set foot on an ocean-going boat in my life).  

Four months later, after an intense and life-changing course, I threw a dart at a map (sorry - chart) of the Caribbean, picked an island and flew out to go in search of adventure and a job. I arrived not knowing anybody, no job prospects and not even a hotel room booked. I did my divemaster the first month that I was here, and hung out in yachtie bars a lot, meeting people and finding my way. After a month I got my first job on a 118-foot megayacht, and five months after that I moved over to a lovely little 44’ catamaran for my first captain job. That was seventeen years ago and it’s been an absolute blast; no regrets and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  • What do you think sets Angeleyes apart from others in the industry, and how do you ensure that your guests have a unique and unforgettable experience?

Hmm. Well, she’s a great boat and absolutely perfect for what we do, so there’s that. There’s lots of nice boats out there these days, though. I think, especially in the middle end of the charter market, that the crew make a huge difference to your charter experience. From the start, I’ve aimed to pick crew that are personable and happy, and I believe that’s our strong point. We’re also fairly unique in that we’ve had the same crew for four years now, so everyone is pretty dialed in on their jobs.

collage 6 fotos (35 × 20 cm).pngAngeleyes award-winning crew: Stewardess Jenny Gulland, Chef Jenn Hart, First Mate Remi Leclezio & Captain Darrel Hearne. 

A lot of people come into this industry because they like the ocean, or the lifestyle, or are good mechanically and great sailors. And that’s all good and well, but what many people don’t realize is that the job while on charter is 95% hospitality industry. Being good with the boat and such is great off charter, but if you don’t like people and offer genuine warmth and hospitality to your guests, then it’s going to show and you should look at other options in the industry rather than charter boats. We’re also exceptionally lucky in that we have the best owners in the world, and they trust us to run the boat as best we see fit, which is smart of them and great for us - we get to be innovative and constantly try new toys and theme nights and fun ideas. Keeps it fresh for the crew and great for returning guests.

  • What's the most unusual request you've received from a client or customer?

I once had a guest who claimed she was allergic to water. Well, anything but distilled water.

  • How do you personalize the experience for each group of guests?

The thing about this job that I love is that every group is different. A lot of boats run a fixed routine and itinerary, but our approach is more of keeping a lot of options on board and being flexible. The big challenge of the job is to figure out what it is that the guests want, and then figure out how best to give them that. We have a pre-charter chat with our guests to try to suss out what to expect, but a lot of it happens on the fly and we just roll with whatever comes up. It helps that we have a lot of stuff onboard (I think we have most of the stuff, actually) - we have tons of games and costumes and decorations and watersports toys and beach toys and … well, stuff. So if we decide at our post-breakfast ‘What are we going to do today’ discussion that guests want burgers on the beach for lunch and a Monte Carlo-themed casino night after dinner, we’re on it.  

The other big factor is in menu planning; these days we find our guests tend to have a wide variety of food dislikes or dietary restrictions; a far cry from when I grew up and you ate what was on your plate. That can make it extremely challenging with our small galley and limited space for food storage, but Jenn (our chef) is phenomenal at tailoring a custom menu and still being lovely and friendly (most of the time). That takes a huge load off of me - having great food on charter is a guarantee for a happy crowd.

208036902_4290207647697862_8492556211245117515_n.jpg"Wow! Wow! Wow! What an incredible week! No words can explain this incredible yacht. Spoiled 100% by crew…"

  • What is the most challenging aspect of being a yacht charter captain, and the most rewarding?

The thing I like about the job most is that it requires such a varied skill set. Most jobs, you do a specific task, with very little variance. Here - I need to be mechanic; bartender; housekeeper; waiter; watersports instructor; divemaster; medic; comedian; plumber and more. I enjoy that - keeps it interesting.

278350372_1347851572345791_2407176649334337543_n.jpgDarrel wear many hats, including comedian.

On bigger boats, the jobs tend to be more specific, because they have a lot more staff - there’s a mechanic to fix stuff and they have a sommelier and yoga instructor etc. Here, if the air conditioners go down, best I know how to fix it or figure it out pretty damn quickly, or people will be very unhappy.  

I’ve also learnt a lot about wine over the years, and I’m happy to instruct in recumbent yoga - which is my own twist and involves lying down and thinking happy thoughts. It’s a challenging job which requires having (or developing) a fairly unique and diverse skill set, which brings out the best in me, I think.

  • What is your favorite Caribbean Island and why?

I’d say as a charter destination, you simply cannot beat the BVI. It really is superior to anywhere else in the Caribbean, in terms of the number of beautiful protected anchorages; amount and proximity of islands; charter provisions available; ease of access and options in terms of beach bars, restaurants and nightlife if that’s what people want. I have been fortunate enough to explore the eastern Caribbean extensively though, and for my personal preferences when not on charter, I’d say my favorites are Anguilla, the southern Exumas, Curacao and Grenada. Although it’s a really tough choice and there are so many fantastic places in the Caribbean. It’s probably easier to name some of my favorite bays and Anchorages.  

  1. Plana Cays - Exumas.  

  2. Crocus Bay - Anguilla.  

  3. Chatham bay - Union.  

  4. Marigot Bay - St Lucia.  Well, and the Pitons - St Lucia.  

  5. Shipwreck tavern on St Kitts.  

  6. The forests and waterfalls on south-western Guadeloupe.  

  7. The Saints. 

  8.  Ile Fourchue and Anse de Columbiere in St Barths.  

  9. Batibou beach on Dominica.  

  10. The amazing little beach on Grenada tucked against a cliff where I spent many happy hours in naked solitude during COVID lockdown.  Hmm.  Yeah - that’s harder than I thought. There’s tons of amazing places I’ve been and seen.  It’s been a true privilege and I count myself extremely blessed to have done it.

  • What do you do in your spare time?

Ha. Spare time. Funny. I’ll let you know if it ever comes up. We’re a busy boat - we’re out on the water at least 30 weeks of the year, and once you factor in maintenance and admin and bookkeeping and planning in between those weeks, there’s not a whole lot of time left. I’d say my go-to when I’m off is hanging with my daughter; she’s fourteen and a beam of pure sunlight. She live ten minutes from our dock so when we’re in town I get to see her a lot. She’s also a kick-ass wakeboarder and loves watersports and diving, which makes me happy.

Angeleyes is a fabulous 2017 85 ft Horizon motor yacht accommodating 10 guests in 2 King and 3 Queen cabins, available for charter in the Virgin Islands. Send an inquiry now to learn more about a charter on Angeleyes.