By the end of this month, the refit season will be in full swing and many yards will be preparing themselves for a busy winter ahead. But with many yachts still in summer cruising mode, planning an upcoming refit period isn't always top priority. In years gone by, refit yards have experienced dubious last-minute preparation on behalf of the clients. Have things progressed in 2016?
For Anthony Sands, founder and director of management company Edge Yachts, refit preparation and management has improved due to the increasing professionalism in the crew sector. “The officers and captains that you find on the size of yachts that we deal with are very professional and at the top of their game,” he explains. “They can’t afford to be unprepared and there is a lot of accountability today.”
From the other perspective, the team at MB’92 is finding that, although the situation has been changing over the past few years, they still have many clients who arrive without a clear picture of the goals they want to achieve during the yard period.
“Well-prepared clients apart, we notice that there are still other clients who only share information related to the main works prior to arrival,” says Rubén Carmona, projects director. “So we as a yard can be very well prepared for that job but the additional works that are later brought up once the yacht is in the yard may create a conflict in the overall schedule."
Unfortunately this situation can affect the overall quality of a project — not only the quality of the job itself but the quality of the general management for all the parties involved.
With the growing demand for Palma de Mallorca as a refit destination, captains and management may be slowly waking up to the fact that they have to book berths and haul out dates a lot further in advance than usual which, in turn, prompts a proper work list to be initiated.
“It would seem that crews are more prepared and organised when it comes to the upcoming refit season, giving more notice than previous years,” acknowledges Toni Salom, CEO of Palma-based Nautipaints. “This helps companies to better organise their own seasons and to anticipate in advance the recruitment of qualified staff.”
As superyachts grow in size, one positive factor that Amico & Co has noticed is the increasing presence of a technical manager. “This helps captains prepare a more detailed work list,” says Daniele Di Giampaolo, technical and sales manager. “However, an on-board inspection is always fundamental for the yard to have some dialogue with the captain and crew. It is the responsibility of both parties to work towards arriving in the yard as prepared as possible.”
The ideal situation for yards would be to have all information as early as possible. “It would be great to see more of the larger (50 to 80m) yachts plan their programmed maintenance, such as the special surveys, further ahead, as this would allow us to give a more complete quotation to the client and discuss the various facility options, making the refit even more efficient in terms of both time and money.” says Di Giampaolo
For those projects that require an engineering phase, Mary Clara Batchelor, commercial manager at MB’92 advises yachts to take into consideration that, during the engineering study, some unforeseen factors may affect the schedule. “It is, therefore, important to have buffers to absorb them,” she recommends. “It is imperative that the client understands that a yard period does not first commence when the yacht enters the facilities, but prior to this.”
On a final note, Batchelor stresses the importance of having a person dedicated to the yard period within the owner’s team. “Generally these periods come just before or after the Mediterranean and Caribbean seasons when captains and officers are very busy attending to the owners' needs and requests,” she adds. “The aim would be to reduce the amount of unexpected works, even though we are aware that during the use of the yacht issues may arise leading to unforeseen works.”
With the growth of the refit sector, owners, captains and management companies are realising the benefits of early organisation and preparation in making a yard period as successful as possible. But the onus is not just on the client - it is in the yard's interest to ensure a refit is as efficient as possible and so any support they are able to give in the early stages should be capitalised upon.