Five tips to ensure a flawless superyacht refit
Written by Luke Wheeler
Last updated: 07/06/2017
Refit season can be stressful – but in this industry, particularly with charter yachts, ensuring the highest standards of living means regular updates to the décor, decking, electronic systems, engines and generators, and even the internal layout of rooms and spaces.
These projects often land on the larger scale, some requiring months and months of work from teams of dozens. Crew are often required to still be ‘at work’ part-time or full-time during refits, often helping in a variety of ways depending on the project.
Poor or lazy preparation without enough planning can lead to refit nightmares, in the form of delays, disagreements, or huge unexpected costs. We’ve written a short guide on essential tips you should know to ensure a successful refit project.
Make sure your shipyard has good liability insurance
Accidents do happen – and accidents on board multi-million pound superyachts happen, too. It is vital to check with the superyacht’s insurance company what level of cover they will require the shipyard to carry.
Before any works are agreed, all parties should check that all involved insurers and policies cover the breadth of work to be taking place, such as areas like ‘hot’ work (spark producing work, welding, soldering) which aren’t always covered by one or more parties’ policies.
Like when buying anything in life; shop around
One shipyard will likely quote and charge differently from the next. Getting several quotes from different shipyards is not only great for getting pricing options, but for understanding what the shipyard might be like.
Quoting for a superyacht refit isn’t the most straightforward proposal to put together, and a shipyard’s competence can often be displayed through their ability to do so. Spend some time getting at least three quotes for the planned work, and be aware of any mistakes made or delays experienced. These can often be indicators of potential issues. Don’t just brush it off when a yard takes twice as long to get back to you as another, or delivers you a quote with several mistakes.
Whilst you’re getting quotes, also look to see if the shipyard is a member of the ICOMIA Superyacht Refit Group, or SYBASS. This gives the yard an essential level of credibility which will guarantee you security by ensuring your chosen yard will conform to the superyacht standards which you will be expecting.
Ensure enough attendance from the right people
Even small projects typically require full-time attendance from the captain to minimise issues and delays. A chief engineer would be next to join, maybe part-time at first, but often the captain and chief engineer will want to be working together. There may be a third-party refit manager involved too, who would normally be second only to the captain in attendance levels.
The shipyard will discuss with you their recommended requirements for crew attendance depending on the project they’ve been presented with, and you’d do well to go by their recommendations unless agreed otherwise between parties.
Also, ensure planning is in place for any direct contractors you may bring in during the vessel’s yard period. You will want to ensure enough crew are on board to manage contractors working at any given time; do not expect the shipyard’s own workers to manage contractors that they are not hiring themselves.
Familiarise yourself with the yard and its staff
If not done already, find out the names and numbers for the following on arrival:
- Your project manager
- Emergency numbers for fire, ambulance and police
- The security officer
- Health & safety officer
- Who you should contact in an emergency outside of working hours
- Concierge or receptionist
Get familiar with the environmental and health & safety measures at the shipyard as soon as possible.
Regarding day-workers or direct contract workers, ensure that all correct paperwork is in place before the project commences. Outside of sheer emergencies, you do not want to be organising together twenty separate pieces of paperwork per worker not on the crew contract.
Ask for and sign an ICOMIA Superyacht Refit Group contract
Shipyards that are members of ICOMIA have an essential level of credibility which will guarantee you security by ensuring your chosen yard will conform to the superyacht standards, which you will be expecting. International Council of Marine Industry associations (ICOMIA) Superyacht Refit Group members must conform to conditions set out in their Code of Practice.
The Code of Practice sets out the values and practices of the group. Certain client issues are mandatory, such as insurance, warranty, transparency, environmental practices, customer satisfaction and €10 million liability.
It also sets out further standards for shipyards to adhere to, such as 24-hour manned security on site, secure land boundaries and access control. They even ensure yards have crew accommodation on site or accommodation that can be offered nearby.
Taking a superyacht to a shipyard that isn’t part of ICOMIA doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t reliably and professionally refit a superyacht, but it begs the question: why aren’t they a member?
Larger projects can often benefit from a refit manager, or other company that assists with refit and repair projects.