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João Franco ended Season 4 of Below Deck Mediterranean ready to take on his first job as a captain. Now, the former bosun is opening up about his first year as a captain and the future of his yachting career.
João shared the latest on his yachting career during an Instagram Live chat with Below Deck Sailing Yacht's Captain Glenn Shephard on March 1. "I've finished my [officer of the watch] courses. Obviously, COVID had slowed down my progress, which maybe I was running before I could walk," João said. "I was captain on a 30-meter yacht for about a year-and-a-half, and it went really well."
The Below Deck Med alum, who is currently in South Africa, also revealed what he hopes to do once he passes his officer of the watch exam. "I've decided to take a step back, do my officer of the watch. My NOE [Notice of Eligibility] has just come through, because I needed the sea time, so I managed just to scrape through," João said. "I'm gonna do my exam in a month, and then I'm gonna most likely head back to Europe and look for a job on a sailboat."
João then provided more details about his first job as a captain, which ended up being a stressful experience. "I think the hardest part of being a captain is the responsibility of dealing with people's lives on board," he said. "My first job was extremely difficult. I'm not exaggerating. I lost going into port, I lost port side engine, I lost my bow thruster, and we lost stabilizers while we were out, and I had to dock this boat with guests on board. My very first docking. I'd never docked a boat before, and here's a 30-meter, go. So, it was really difficult, but I think after doing my courses fairly recently, if I were to be asked if I were to take on that position again knowing what I know now, I'd probably say no."
The former bosun said that he has come to learn the importance of how you react in moments of adversity as a captain, whether it's with the vessel, the crew, or the charter guests.
"I'll say, because [of] the responsibility of people's lives, it's all hunky dory when everything goes right, but when something goes wrong, it can go majorly wrong. I believe that 90 percent of being a captain is your management rather than your driving, because you can get on a boat, you can drive a boat if you're practically minded, you can figure it out with a bit of background knowledge, some experience," he explained. "Driving a boat is easy, but dealing with crew and dealing with people, and you're the only person you can answer to, that is most definitely the hardest thing."
Captain Glenn agreed with João. "It's definitely hard. It's not easy. For me, driving the boat is the fun part," the Below Deck Sailing Yacht boss said. "Dealing with the crew is the hard part. But you figure it out, and that comes with experience."
So now João hopes to learn from someone else on a bigger vessel after he passes his officer of the watch exam. "I would like some experience under an experienced captain. I do know, with all due respect to many out there, I'm able to take on a position, but I'm more wanting to learn from a captain rather than to be a captain right now," he said. "If I could get a next position on a bigger boat, I will do it for a year. I'll get my master 500 [license]. I'll do it for another year, and then I'll get my 3000 [license], and then I'm on the top. So that's the plan."
Lucky for João, he was talking to the right person to help him achieve his goal of working on a sailing yacht. "I have a little network of big sailboat captains," Captain Glenn told João during their Instagram Live chat. "So if you want to have a go at getting on a sailboat, definitely get me your CV, and I'll spread it around."
A lot has also happened in João's personal life since Below Deck Med Season 4. He got engaged to girlfriend Michelle Dicu in March 2020. João confirmed during the Instagram Live chat that he and Michelle are still engaged and have not yet married.
João also welcomed a new addition to his family last year: an adorable pet dog.
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