Preparing a yacht for transport and shipping
Last updated: 15/02/2018
Unsurprisingly, transporting a yacht from A to B requires a wealth of preparation that often needs to be done to strict deadlines. As such, we spoke to a number of yacht transport experts to find out what exactly needs be done before the yacht begins its journey, and what questions you need to ask yourself before the preparations are made.
Why use a yacht transport provider to ship a yacht?
When talking yacht transport, many ask why yachts are transported around the world aboard a carrier, when those with captain and crew in place could just sail from A to B? Dimitry Farber managing partner of Seven Seas Yacht Transport explained that there are in fact many fundamental reasons why getting a yacht transported professionally might be the better option:
1. Crew get to rest
During a busy season, a superyacht and its crew rarely get time to recuperate, which can take all the enjoyment out of the yachting experience, as well as causing continual wear and tear to the vessel.
Dimitry said, “Having a yacht transported by professionals means that owners can rest and concentrate on what is most enjoyable about owning yachts; the 'lifestyle'. In other words, leaving yacht transport to the professionals means owners can rest easy and not worry about the treacherous conditions that long-distance travel can bring to their yacht and its crew, who also get some rare downtime to recuperate. Furthermore, the yacht avoids the general wear and tear of a long and arduous journey."
2. Yacht transportation costs ultimately trump cruising costs
When it comes to transporting an operational superyacht, it can be tempting to think that you’ll surely save some money by enlisting the help of the existing crew, but recent research has actually shown that this isn't the case.
Seven Seas Yacht Transport recently carried out a study that looked at the amount that clients pay to have their yachts shipped compared to the amount spent by an owner paying his/her crew to sail the yacht to its end destination. Its research and practical experiments showed that the costs were actually virtually the same - but, when risks of high seas and piracy were factored in, as well as the decrease in value that additional hours of travel have on the yacht, using trusted professionals becomes the clearer choice.
Established yacht transport professionals have a wealth of knowledge and expertise to ensure that every component of the transport operation is carried out to the highest of standards, so that the yacht arrives in better condition than if it were sailed across the distance.
But unfortunately, not everyone in the business is a trusted professional, with some parties using a haphazard do-it-yourself approach that underestimates the work that goes into lifting, hauling and shipping a superyacht. Sometimes things can go disastrously wrong, especially if the yachts are not properly latched down and are in an ill-fitting cradle. The best companies use adjustable or custom-made cradles, using expert knowledge to distribute weight and pressure evenly.
Many yacht transport companies provide full insurance with their service, so it's always important to properly look into a company and only choose a trusted expert. Read more about choosing a respected yacht transport provider in our ultimate guide to yacht transport.
Important factors to consider when transporting a superyacht
It’s important that transportation companies know when the yacht needs to reach its end destination; of course, the earlier that transportation is arranged, the more likely their scheduling requirements can be met. Established yacht transporters are seasoned pros at working to tight deadlines, with most yachts shipped within two weeks or sooner of initial contact.
Sometimes, time is extremely short and there is no room for mistakes; Farber told Yachting Pages, “A client confirmed that the yacht would be ready less than a week before the ocean freight departure date, so we had a lot to do in a short time”.
“We had to make sure that the custom cradle was completed in record time, as well as ensuring the mast was unstepped, plans were in place for loading at the marina, the haul out and loading to our truck was ready, the delivery over the road scheduled, receiving at the terminal was all fully coordinated and that all plans for customs and insurance were put into place.” A mind boggling amount of things to prepare to the utmost precision.
The more time you give a company, the better – but of course, the experts can figure out just about any problem you give them, so that clients can save on money, time and peace of mind.
2. End destination
Of course, where the yacht needs to go is just as important as when, and can can greatly affect timings and routes. Obscure pick up and drop off points are often required, meaning the entire operation begins to get very complex, but many yacht transportation companies can adjust their routes to accommodate client needs.
The two factors of time and destination are inexplicably interlinked, as timetables have to be absolutely flawless in order to keep costs down and ensure the entire operation runs smoothly.
With so many links in the chain, a complex array of timings and destinations, and a huge network of ships, carriers, and trucks to synchronise, one little fault could mean an absolute disaster, logistically and financially; “If any one of the links failed, we would have to completely re-arrange the timetable and work to align everything all over again.”
Arrangements to make before shipping a superyacht
Before any yacht is ready for transport, Global Boat Shipping and United Yacht Transport explained that there are a few crucial aspects to think about for smooth transit.
1. Customs clearance
When transporting a yacht, it's important that arrangements are made as early as possible. Bear in mind that yachts cannot be loaded or discharged for transport without customs clearance.
Most of the time, agents in the load or discharge port can assist you with customs matters. The following documents are typically required:
- The yacht's certificate of registry
- A passport
- A copy of the commercial invoice
2. Yacht transport insurance
Even with the best transport company and perfect preparation, there's always the risk that multi-million pound yachts will be damaged in transport, even if it's just a small scratch. Make sure your yacht is covered by an All Risks Transport Insurance type policy.
A separate cargo insurance policy is normally required when transporting a yacht on board an ocean-going vessel. This policy is separate from the typical navigational insurance policy and will cover the exposure for loading, discharge and ocean transit. Rates of this type of insurance will fluctuate depending on the port of loading, discharge and the intended route of the ship.
Of course, when transporting such expensive cargo, there can still be cases of damage from accidents and/or negligence. United Yacht Transport commented, “Before loading your yacht, it's highly recommended that you take pictures of the interior and exterior, so that in the event of damage, you will have document of the condition prior to loading.”
3. Additional operational charges
When comparing rates from different transport companies, it's important to confirm that the booking is on a water-to-water basis. This means that all labour for loading and discharge, as well as any necessary lifting and cradling equipment is included in the freight rate.
4. Delivery times and cancellation dates
Even when shipping a superyacht on a scheduled service, the date of loading and delivery can vary. Most yacht transport companies will provide predicted departure and delivery windows rather than a particular set date of arrival. This is due to the many variables that may come into play, such as bad weather, customs hold ups, customer delays, etc…
Although departure and arrival dates cannot always be accurately predicted, there should be a period of time outside which the service is considered unreasonable. For example, a delay of 30 days would be considered unreasonable by most yacht transport companies. A cancellation date will be clearly defined in contracts when choosing any yacht transportation provider. Remember, never enter into a contact without this information being clearly stated.
5. Arrival in port
Each port authority is authorised to admit or deny sailing into the port and the captain is exclusively authorised to admit entry to the vessel. If you want to be on the vessel during loading or discharging, make sure that your transport company is informed so they can arrange authorisation.
6. Make sure measurements and weights are correct
Information about the length, beam, height and weight of your yacht has to be declared correctly in the booking note for three reasons:
- If your yacht is bigger than declared, the vessel may not be able to load it. Cranes may not be able to lift it and it may be too large to fit through the hatch cover.
- Your boat will be measured in case of doubt, and shipment of your yacht can be refused when an offer has been made for a smaller yacht.
- If your boat heavier than declared, it may be a danger to the vessel, crew or stevedores.
Preparing a superyacht for shipping
Finally, the boat itself must be fully prepared to avoid any problems and delays. Weshipboats.com has been in the yacht transport industry for over 25 years and has provided the following points to bear in mind when preparing the yacht for its impending transport:
- Secure all items inside the yacht, such as galley utensils, plates, cutlery etc…
- All ports, hatches and windows should be locked shut and locking device taped over.
- Top and side curtains should be removed prior to shipment, which will prevent water damage to cloth or canvas.
- All electrical circuits should be closed and batteries disconnected.
- Personal belongings and equipment must be itemised and verified prior to shipment. Transport companies will not assume responsibility for missing items not fully accounted for in writing. Major high cost removable items should be pointed out to the driver at the time of pick up.
- If you are planning to ship your boat on a cradle, some precautions must be taken. Even though your cradle may serve adequately for storage it may fall short of what’s needed for shipping. A cradle should fit the exact contour of your hull and be in good condition for sea voyage.
- All fuel and water should be removed from the holding tanks for safety reasons.
- Cabinet doors, drawers and all lockers inside the boat should be secured shut.
- Remove and store plastic or plexiglass fly bridge windshields inside the boat.
- Additional requirements for sailboats: Standing rigging, turnbuckles, mastheads, antennas, spreaders, wind indicators, wires and mast winches should be removed from the mast, after it is unstepped, and prior to shipment.