“The Coastguard requested all of our certificates from the agent, who informed us they were coming down later that day. So it wasn’t a ‘step on board thing’ and everything was already laid out and ready to go. Because of that our inspection only took 45 minutes, whereas most of them take a good few hours. One thing I would say to captains and officers is don’t try to avoid it; go looking for it. Every time they asked for something we were able to give it to them.
I’m responsible for most of the paperwork [on Ulysses] and I make sure I stay on top of it all the time. If inspectors really wanted to go digging on any boat they’d find something, even if it’s run to the most impeccable standards. But things are made a lot easier if you have everything they need to hand.
I wasn’t fully involved with the processes of the old system but the NIR isn’t too harsh – they didn’t start digging for anything extra – they just walked around, checked the paperwork, oily water separator, the engineering, and they were satisfied with all of them, as we were ready for all of it. In terms of changes [to the inspection process], I can’t see anything too different.
We were in the port in Livorno inside the Benetti shipyard, as we had completed some warranty work and had just got back into the water. Livorno is a large port that mostly handles commercial ships, so I guess it was good for PSC to come and inspect a vessel that wasn’t a commercial ship. Some people you speak to say ‘Oh, it’s all bureaucracy’, but if you receive them with that attitude you’ll make it more difficult for yourself. They’re just doing their job and while people bemoan yachts as targets, they’re not; there is nowhere near as much paperwork as commercial ships. Just treat the inspection with the right attitude and give them what they want and they won’t bother you again for another year. That’s what we did and I’ve looked on the Paris MoU database and there it is – ‘Ulysses, zero deficiencies’.
The only people they spoke to were myself and the captain on the bridge and then went to the engine room to conduct their engine room inspection. I had a look at their checklist and it didn’t look too extensive. The oily water separator was tested but not on an overboard discharge so we stayed legal; there was also an oil record book check, as well as the fire pump and a general look around. When it comes to our main propulsion testing during the inspection it was left alone as it’s obvious we are quite a new yacht. If we were 25 years old it might be a different story.
Owners just need to sit down with their captain or chief officer and get a little bit of knowledge. At the end of the day they have to pay large chunks of moneys for surveys anyway, so it makes sense to know what’s going on. There’s no need to bother them with the paperwork – that’s why they hire the crew – but it avoids any upset or nasty surprises.”
Find the full article in issue 8 of The Superyacht Owner.