Ship to Shore Interview with David Ireland

David Ireland

Tell us a little about yourself

 I am 51 years old and have been living and working on Mallorca for over 18 years. I’m married to Lucy with 3 beautiful girls. We moved from the UK in 2005 and bought an established yachting business called DECKERS, supplying crew uniforms to yachts, which we operated for 15 years. Now I’m excited to be heading up the Key Accounts department of our new company, Superyacht Uniform.

My love of sailing came from my Dad, who was a successful offshore racer. I became a member of the West Kirby sailing club at 4 years old and joined the Sail Cadets British Team at 10 years old. Sailing has always been in my blood.

My first job was also around the age of 10, selling caramelised peanuts on the beach in France. My Dad would take me down to meet the local “beach seller” every day and I would help him sell his ware – getting paid in peanuts of course! My Dad was “old school” and I learned early in life that you don’t get anything if you don’t get up and go to work!

When I was 14, I mopped floors at the local Mercedes-Benz garage. I then went on to study engineering at the University of Westminster and got my first paid yacht job in 1991, straight after university.

How did you get into yachting?

I was delivery crew on a sailing yacht called Borkumriff. We left North Wales and sailed over to the Canaries to prepare for the ARC race. It was a hairy experience as we got hit by a huge storm in the Bay of Biscay and spent 11 days drifting whilst we repaired the boat. When I finally got to the Canaries, I picked up a passage across the Atlantic to Saint Lucia and from there, I caught a lift to Antigua. I found my first paid job on the Feadship, Double Haven.

Funny story, I was dock walking in Nelson’s Dockyard, when I recognised a friend’s voice. He was working on board the first yacht I was handing my CV to. His boat didn’t need any crew, but he shouted to the boat next door (which also didn’t need anyone) and they shouted to the next one and so on. By the time I reached the 4th boat, they, fortunately, did need crew! This was on Christmas Eve and the best Christmas present I could have ever wished for!

Can you tell me about your yachting career – highlights, low points?

Low points:

  • Cabin fever and missing important events, such as birthdays, marriages, and sadly, some funerals. But I was away working, so there was nothing I could do about it.


  • Definitely some of the destinations I travelled to. My favourite being Alaska, as it was always on my bucket list. The people in Israel were very friendly, Japan was absolutely fascinating and Hong Kong felt like home from home! So much so, after leaving yachting I went to live there for 5 years.


  • The adventure. Every day there was something new. Nobody could ever say to me, “Go out and broaden your horizons” – we literally saw the world.


  • Like-minded people that, in the years before social media and mobiles, you did not see or hear from again, but you got to spend quality time with them.

It went full circle because just after I had decided to leave yachting, I received a message from the first owner asking if I wanted a delivery job! So, I went from a deckhand in my first boat job to delivery captain on my last -both on the same boat- the perfect way to end my career! I loved working in yachting. The experience was second only to having my kids and family.

How did you know it was time for you to make the move to land?

Simple really, I wanted to wash my car on the driveway and own a cat! Shortly after arriving home, I was lucky enough to have saved enough money to buy my first house – without a mortgage! I also bought a car and adopted a cat called Rodney! However, I never did get to wash my car as my best friend owned The All-American car wash and did it for me!

What was the most difficult thing about the transition?

UK weather and paying tax!

What was the best thing about it?

 The best thing about the transition from yachting to the real world was the flexibility I had. In the early years in Hong Kong, I could go out and do what I wanted without being on a watch rota.

What do you do now?

Superyacht Eco

After nearly 20 years of supplying crew uniforms to the superyacht industry, I came across a product that not only complemented what we were doing, but one that genuinely got me excited because of the difference it could make to our industry. Two weeks later, SUPERYACHT ECO was born with a partnership and distribution agreement for the ECOSTORE product range.

Ecostore manufacture and supply interior and exterior cleaning and laundry products for your yacht and home. Also, body, skin, baby and oral care products that are unrivalled. The products are all plant and mineral based, and the packaging is made from sugarcane and recycled plastic bottles pulled from the ocean. Sugar plastic is a renewable, recyclable plastic that captures CO2 as it grows. By using plastic made from sugar instead of petrochemicals, CO2 is captured from the atmosphere rather than released into it.

Ecostore is a Certified B Corporation®. This certification is recognised globally as the highest standard for social corporate responsibility. ‘B Corps’ are companies that formally commit to using the positive power of business to solve the world’s social and environmental problems. It has a zero carbon footprint; when the products leave in the container to be sent to us, they already have a negative carbon footprint due to the sugarcane used in the production.

The education Ecostore has given me has also changed how we think about our uniform supply. We can now offer more sustainable crew uniform options from our sister company Superyacht Uniform, which has been overwhelmingly welcomed by the whole industry. Sustainable clothing is definitely taking off, with more and more crew opting for uniforms that are “eco-friendly.” Our best-selling model of 2022 was a shoe called “Tropic Feel” which is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles taken from the ocean.

Within the marine industry, there’s an increasing awareness of the health of our oceans and a growing movement to minimise the ecological impacts of onboard activity. We’re proud to support this movement. We have a studio showroom in Santa Catalina (Palma) and warehousing in both Mallorca and Holland.

What do you miss most about yachting?

Being on watch on night passages. They were so peaceful and calm. The tranquillity of the ocean, the sound of the wind and the blanket of stars. Taking time out for yourself. I have never experienced anything else like it.

Do you have any advice for fellow yachties about going land-based?

 If you think the work is hard on a boat, just wait until you own your own business! It’s tough! Be prepared for the 24-hour days, 365 days a year…even your holiday is not an actual holiday. That said, it can be very rewarding as you are doing it for yourself. When I first started 16 to 18-hour days, 11 months a year was the normal routine – no job in the world allows this, until you work for yourself! Yachting can be a great apprenticeship into a world of your own, if that is the path you want to choose.



Interview by Melanie Winters 


Read more CREW LIFE articles

Also read

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

Get your hard-copy now!

Your advert in The Islander Magazine?

and receive your invitation to our events