GETTING REFIT READY: A GUIDE TO SUPERYACHT REFIT AND REPAIR
Last updated: 06/09/2019
With more than 300 refit shipyards worldwide, weighing up where and when to book a superyacht refit can prove difficult.
Numerous questions immediately spring to mind - ‘How do I know if my superyacht requires a refit?’, ‘What exactly do superyacht refit shipyards offer?’, ‘What does the process involve?’. Trying to get your head around everything in order to make an informed choice on what to do can be incredibly time consuming – something that most of us can’t afford to invest in the hectic industry in which we work.
Fear not. With the help of Derecktor and Sud Marine Shipyard, Yachting Pages explores the world of superyacht refits so you don’t have to. We delve into the reasons why a superyacht may need a refit, what services shipyards provide and the value of refitting a boat ahead of commissioning a new build.
Why does my yacht need a refit? Scheduling your superyacht refit
There are any number of reasons why a yacht may require a refit. According to our experts, however, there are two reasons in particular that prompt a superyacht’s team to get in contact with shipyards: age of the vessel and change of ownership.
James Brewer, director of sales and marketing at Derecktor, notes, “One of the main reasons is the age of the vessel. Starting around the five-year mark, a vessel may require paint and mechanical renewals or upgrades [to ensure it operates as the owner desires].
“The other reason is change of ownership – a new owner may wish to implement mechanical or cosmetic changes to make the new vessel their own.”
Emma Henry, sales coordinator at Sud Marine Shipyard, seconds these observations.
“New ownership usually triggers important refits, with the yacht’s acquirers keen to add their personal touch to the vessel and – increasingly – make eco-friendly improvements too.”
As we mention, though, there are many other reasons why a superyacht requires a refit. These include surveys – for legal reasons – and routine maintenance work, such as:
- Five-year statutory surveys, required by flag states
- Repainting the antifouling (every one to two years)
- Repainting of the hull (every three years)
- Repainting the superstructure (every three to five years)
- Emergency repairs
- Engine and machinery overhaul
- Extensions to the vessel
- Upgrades to the interior
- HVAC system upgrades and servicing
Of course, superyachts may also enter a refit yard to be repaired, extended, converted or completely renovated – or a combination of all four.
“Vessels are typically serviced/maintained during an annual yard period,” James added. “Classification societies mandate more significant inspections/renewals every five years. A typical refit is more discretionary, but will often coincide with major survey periods.”
What refit services does a superyacht shipyard offer?
Refit shipyards offer a wide range of services, but individually they are likely to specialise in a certain area. As such, it’s not uncommon for a yacht to move between different yards during its refit, but this isn’t always necessary.
A good refit yard requires a variety of facilities and the capability to perform any type of refit a client may require, from minor maintenance to a complete overhaul.
Yards will typically provide some, or all, of the following refit and repair services:
- Rig inspections and spars
- Yacht renovation and transformation
- Interior design
- Interior and exterior painting
- Carpentry and joinery
- Metal works, welding and fabrication
- Refrigeration and air conditioning
- GRP and fibreglass repairs
- Structural changes and extensions
Both Derecktor and Sud Marine Shipyard are good examples of shipyards that offer a wide-ranging programme of services as well as specialist expertise in certain areas.
Derecktor is renowned for its focus on custom fabrication, ship fitting, heavy mechanical services and protective coatings. It does, however, outsource to a large concentration of marine related businesses, all located within five miles of the shipyard.
While Sud Marine is a “full-spectrum” refit shipyard, its forte is its engineering capabilities; it has parent company Sud Monteurs’ large, fully equipped workshop situated on-site.
Emma says having a specialism is important for a yard as it “sets them apart from competitors” in what is a densely populated sector of the superyacht industry.
What a client should consider when choosing a yard
Research into the yard shouldn’t stop merely at the services it offers; our experts suggest there are a number of other factors to consider when choosing the right refit provider.
For example, it’s vitally important to ascertain how reputable and financially stable a yard is. After all, if they aren’t widely recommended by other clients, how can you be sure that they will be capable of meeting – and surpassing – your expectations?
Another top tip from those in the know is to look into whether a yard offers competitive pricing with a view to developing a long-term relationship with the vessel. If it doesn’t want to undertake a mutually profitable business relationship with prospective clients, it’s sensible to question whether they are reliable partners.
“Typically, a client should prefer a shipyard that seeks to develop a long-term relationship with the vessel – offering continuing value beyond a single yard period,” James suggests.
Shortlisting your preferred shipyards
What’s the process once a client has researched everything they need to know?
James says, “A client’s team will develop a scope of work and associated engineering so that a bid package can be presented to multiple yards as an RFP [request for proposal]. This would include the selection of some significant vendors and a design team, if required. The team will shortlist shipyards, and then negotiate with each before making a final selection and signing a contract.
“It is important that engineering is completed early to prevent surprises and negative impact to the timeline. Once the vessel enters the shipyard, the work scope is executed by the yard’s team, and is overseen by the client’s team within the terms of the contract. Regular meetings with the client’s team ensure good communication, accommodation of changes and steady progress.”
Buying new build vs. refitting a superyacht
In an industry that revolves around indulgence and luxury, there is a misconception that commissioning a new build is both ‘glamorous' and ‘better value for money’ than refitting an existing vessel. This simply isn’t the case anymore.
Refits can be so extensive now that with extensions and structural changes, there are not as many constraints to what can be done as there were in the past. There is, to all intents and purposes, as much a blank canvas in a refit as there is building from scratch.
Take a look at our Top Five Classic Yacht Refits to see a fishing vessel and ice-breaker ship transformed into stunning superyachts.
According to Emma, there are two key advantages to refitting rather than commissioning a new build: time and money. Essentially, it doesn’t take nearly as long and costs significantly less. Win-win.
Expanding on Emma’s sentiments, James says, “A vessel can be refitted in six months to a year, whereas a new build can take four years to complete.
“[In terms of cost] a previously owned vessel can be purchased and refitted to the new owner’s tastes for significantly less than the cost of a new build project.”
What happens to a yacht’s crew when a refit is underway?
While an operational yacht enters refit, some key members of the crew will typically go with her to the shipyard, depending on the type of refit work happening. More often than not, it's expected that the captain, chief engineer and a chief interior stew/stewardess will be present to oversee works.
Refits can also be the prime opportunity to consider putting crew through training on how to operate and maintain any new equipment that is being fitted. This is why some shipyards are often equipped with crew training facilities and supporting crew amenities.