If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his CV, Google suggests; courage, leadership, adaptability, self-control, physical fitness, judgment and decision making and critical thinking.
However, this list is not exhaustive by any means. An obvious omission relates to qualifications from a recognised maritime college related to marine science, maritime laws and regulations and possibly marine engineering. There is at least one other attribute which requires prominence. The Captain ideally needs to possess a strong and attractive personality. That immediately brings to mind Captain Gerhard Lickfett a former Master of Sea Cloud 2. He and his vessel called at the Isle of Man over a decade ago and also berthed in Douglas last month, which brought back strong memories of meeting the aforementioned skipper.
Gerhard Lickfett, a German National, had long experience in sail. He was one of a handful of mariners trained in sail, to still command a sailing ship. He began his career in 1954 as a cadet on the four-masted barque and ex-Laeisz Cape Horner Passat (Hamburg, 1911). Nine years later, he earned his German unlimited master’s ticket. For 25 years, he served as mate and master in Hapag Lloyd steamships, shifting back to sail in 1988 as master of a three-masted topsail schooner, then as chief mate of the four-masted passengerbark Sea Cloud (ex-Hussar, Kiel, 1931). He joined Mikael Krafft’s Star Clippers, Inc, in 1991 as skipper in succession of the two barquentines, Star Flyer and Star Clipper. Putting Captain Lickfett in charge of a passenger sailing ship was an inspired decision. Tall and lean, with hawk-like features and a thousand-mile stare, he was the last man in the German merchant navy to be trained on a square-rigger. He was also able to steer by the stars.
As mentioned earlier, I met Captain Lickfett when he berthed his then vessel, the Sea Cloud 2 alongside at Douglas on the Isle of Man. Across the Victoria Quay, where his handsome vessel was berthed, the final throes of the exodus of that year’s TT fans and their motorcycles were boarding the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry for their journey home. The port requested that the Sea Cloud passengers delayed disembarking for 10 minutes until the TT fans had boarded their ferry.