In continuation of our life after yachting series, we caught up with former deckhand, Adam Hunkin. Adam is the founder of ‘Polaris Yacht Supply’ who specialise in supplying the finest deck equipment to Superyachts and shipyards worldwide. After spending the majority of his life on the water, learning to sail in dinghies at aged 2, followed by dinghy and marathon kayak racing as a teenager and then yacht racing, Adam took the plunge and began his career as a Superyacht deckhand after finishing A Levels.
This is the back story of how Adam transitioned from life at sea to life on land and became the founder and Managing Director of Polaris Yacht Supply:
Tell us about your journey as a yachtie?
I worked onboard Superyachts for 5 years on private yachts from 40m to 110m as a deckhand/ chase boat captain. The last yacht I worked on was MY Bystander, the support yacht to SY Velsheda.
When did you leave the Superyacht industry and why?
I left my career at sea in December 2019, coincidentally a few months prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and opted for a shoreside role instead. It got to a stage where I was missing too many important family events back at home and with the bug for adventure wearing off, I was craving a better work/ life balance.
Prior to leaving, did you plan an exit strategy as to what land-based job you’ll transition to?
I didn’t plan an exit strategy mainly because I knew I could fall back into the industry if I needed too. I knew I wanted to work within the marine sector using my core interests which are product design, yachting, and business, having studied two of them at A level.
Most important lesson you learnt being yacht crew that’s stuck with you till this day?
The most important lesson from yachting that I have taken away is the attention to detail that the industry lives by. It is true that our industry although incredibly small compared to the rest of the world, lives by meticulous standards. This has stuck with me and has been especially useful in launching my first business in the industry. I was introduced to quote by a good friend of mine recently which sums up our industry in a nutshell “Detail makes perfection, and perfection is not a detail” – Leonardo de Vinci.
What is your current job role and where are you based?
I am the founder and managing director of Polaris Yacht Supply and we are based in the UK.
Can you tell us more about Polaris Yacht Supply and how the concept around your business came about?
Let’s start with the name. Like all intrepid entrepreneurs, myself, some friends, and family spent hours deciding the name around the kitchen table and in the beer garden, brain storming. Polaris Yacht Supply came about as Polaris is the North Star. It may not be the largest star in the sky, but it will always be there when you need it, just like us! I wanted a company name that was catchy and instantly recognisable as to what we do, and I think we nailed it! At Polaris Yacht Supply, we specialise in supplying the finest deck equipment to Superyachts and shipyards. Anything from Tender Mooring Whips and Carbon Fibre Swim Ladders to Inflatable Fenders, Mooring Lines and Deck Procurement. You name it and we will supply it!
What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business? And the most valuable skill you learnt on board that helps you day-today in your current job?
That’s a tough question but probably the first thing that springs to mind is to take every opportunity that comes your way (if its financially viable!). This applies to both launching a business and your early days in the industry looking for your first gig. I believe as a new business and as a small fish in a very big pond in this industry, you need to be flexible and to easily alter course to stay on top of the game and help grow the business (excuse the puns).
Also, what I learnt onboard was timings. The industry generally runs off a very tight time schedule when cruising but will change at moment’s notice if necessary (usually a direct influence from the owner). As crew, you need to quickly adapt to a new environment and continue as if its normal. This will stick with you when you move shore side.
Did you always know that you wanted to start your own business in the Superyacht industry?
I joined the Superyacht industry fresh from school and longed for a career at sea coming from a family full of seafarers, starting with my great-grandfather crewing on SY Shamrock V back in the 30’s to both my parents serving in the Royal Navy for 20+ years. From day one, I was destined to join the Royal Navy until I was steered towards the industry by a former Rear Admiral who knew the owner of a 75m yacht. After doing some research and packed my bags for Antibes once I finished my A levels and the rest is history. I knew that I wanted to have my own business at some point in life but in what industry was unbeknown to me.
If you could go back to the start of your career, would you change anything? Ie, financial choices, ways you would have enhanced your cv, extra courses, and so on?
That’s a tough question! Going back, I would’ve done my first season in yachting and then taken up a 3-year cadetship either through the Royal Fleet Auxiliary or Merchant Navy. I have seen first-hand the leg up it gives you in the industry with several friends going down this route! The reason is that it gives you a good leg up in your career and really fast tracks you into the officers positions of the industry based off your background of yachting prior to taking some time in the merchant world.
What does success mean to you and where do you see Polaris Yacht Supply in the next 5 years?
Success to me means the ability to do what I want and when I want. I believe success shouldn’t be purely financially but to have the support network of friends and family around you that have been there from day 1. Hopefully in 5 years’ time, Polaris Yacht Supply will be one of the leading superyacht supply companies known all over the industry worldwide by both crew, shipyards, and yachts.
Lastly, can you share 3 pieces of advice for green/entry crew on how to begin making sustainable choices in their yachting career:
- My first piece of advice and I am sure a lot of yacht crew can agree with me here, is not to spend all your money at once! Make sure you have a solid investment plan (there are several great yachting focused investment companies out there) and save a percentage of your salary each month.
- Secondly, is to absorb as much information as possible from your senior crew and friends as this will massively help you in progressing your career.
- Thirdly, have fun and enjoy it! We all see the glitz and the glamour of the industry online but rarely show the behind the scenes of it. You must put in the hard work first to be able to sit back and enjoy it (even if it is only doing a rubbish run ashore in the tender!).
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Are you former crew and want to share your story about your transition from sea to land? If so, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.