Triton Survey comments on yacht refits

Jan 22, 2016 by Dorie Cox

Read the February Triton Survey: Captains prefer control, offer tips for successful refits and read comments below:


We asked yacht captains, If you could teach yacht owners one productive thing about refits, what would it be? Here’s what they said:

  • It cost money, sometimes lots. Be ready for the numbers you will be given.
  • Be honest and consistent with the cash flow expectations.
  • Be flexible with time as issues always pop up that need to be dealt with.
  • It is absolutely necessary to offset the effects of aging and depreciation.
  • Plan on additional items being added as the project progress.
  • When you get the call that there is a delay, just roll with it. Refits, even small ones, run into lots of issues that almost always cause delays and extra money.
  • A vessel’s maintenance cost is relative to its value and must not be neglected.
  • It’s usually going to be 10-20 percent more than budgeted as problems will arise and need to be addressed Give a refit adequate time to complete.
  • Patience
  • Allow captains to do their job; don’t micromanage.
  • Understand that once you start dismantling components and equipment, you are likely to find more items requiring direct attention. It’s better to address them right then, even if the cost is substantial, than put the yacht back into service to try to save money or time and deal with it at a later date.
  • We will find more work as we get into it, it will cost more, and it likely will take longer.
  • Refits are critical information on a sale to get the asking price.
  • Avoid “false economising.” Yachts are expensive toys. Investment is required, but have a representative who truly acts in your best interests and has the knowledge and skill set to manage your vessel economically and efficiently.
  • Things will pop up unexpectedly that will cause either more time or more money. Don’t get angry with me for the cost of maintaining it.
  • Agree on dates and location well in advance to allow proper planning, and don’t change the schedule.
  • Do it now, pay for it now. It always costs more later.
  • Be aware that change orders cause the most expense.
  • Pre-funding the refit will save time and, therefore, save money.
  • Surprises don’t mean the crew has failed.
  • Most of the work and cost may not be seen.
  • Do not enter into any yacht period in which the captain has not given you a thorough understanding of the work and cost.
  • Things take time. If you want the boat maintained and presented properly, then time has to be allocated yearly to achieve this.
  • We all are trying our best to be transparent. Being you own the yacht, it is a delicate balance for us captains to get everything we need to get done during a refit because of emotions and budgets. This is why a good surveyor is my recommendation.
  • The more complex the job, the bigger the chance the scope of the job will increase.
  • It will cost more than you thought, especially if you change you mind.
  • Don’t go over the captain’s head. He loses all authority and the result will reflect that.
  • Trust your captain. We are there to oversee your interest.
  • Pay on time.
  • Don’t do repairs on the cheap. It will only come back to haunt you.
  • It’s often exploratory surgery instead of a known event.

We asked yacht captains, If you could tell shipyards one productive thing, what would it be? Here’s what they said:

  • Try to eliminate the time workers spend BS-ing around and are not being productive.
  • Be honest in your pricing. Don’t leave cost out to make the estimate look good.
  • Fix the front gate and dock power.
  • You are only as good as the hands-on persons, contractors.
  • Police your contractors/tenants and recommendations better.
  • Manage your workers to be efficient and not time wasters to run up the bill. This includes using cellphones during the work day.
  • Stay focused on our projects.
  • Communicate daily.
  • If you can’t show up that day, let us know the day prior. Always ask the vessel for tools so you don’t have to spend a few hours going back for a wrench we most likely have on board.
  • Set the docks and yard up so that captains and subcontractors have vehicle access close to the boat, or at least so that when dropping off or picking up from the vessel people are not stuck at some gate waiting to be vetted to do a 10-minute drop off, or worse, waiting on yard personel to come get it.
  • Stay focused on my yacht.
  • Pay workers what they deserve so they care.
  • Keep your yard cleaner. And for the yards that have multiple contractors, keep them more reeled in with regulations and safety. There are too many cowboys running around the yard, thinking that because they have been there so long that they have the right to be there or be disrespectful to other vendors that might be doing another job.
  • Do what you say.
  • Keep your billing current, with no surprises, on a weekly basis.
  • Stop trying to make the quick buck. Spend more time ensuring the yard period is, for the owner, an experience he sees as efficient, and not left with the impression that the yard views him as the Golden Goose.
  • Please don’t charge me excessively just because you think you can. Making me look bad to the owner hurts you more than you know.
  • Please be accountable for your own crew. Manage your crew like I do mine. Don’t make it so that I have to come find you to tell you your crew is slacking.
  • Minimum weekly progress reports, but twice weekly progress reports are even better with weekly invoicing, at an absolute minimum.
  • Stop being 98 percenters. Every time I’m in refit, they complete 98 percent and then start on another vessel, pulling their crew just in sight of completion.
  • Make sure all yard technicians have the tools and equipment they need for their particular operation to cut out the time wasted — yet charged for — going to and from the shop.
  • Hire the best estimators.
  • Tighten up the billing process.
  • Do not make commitments to me, timewise, that you cannot keep. If you mess with my schedule, I am doomed, and I will forevermore bad mouth you and never return.
  • Have a well organized and effective project manager, and don’t give him too many boats to manage.
  • Keep your word.
  • Good communication is critical; a clean shipyard is a necessity.
  • Be truthful concerning time issues.
  • Keep communications going 24/7. You get great ideas at all times.
  • Talk to me, the captain. Don’t treat me like an obstacle that needs to be kept in the dark.
  • Do the work you proposed, in the time you proposed, and for the price you proposed. I did not tell you what to charge, or tell you how long it would take. I asked you. Now perform what you proposed.
  • Be straight up about work you sub out. Don’t send someone from a different firm aboard without prior approval.
  • Stand behind your work. Do it right the first time or be prepared to do it again.
  • Be ready to start as soon the yacht arrives, and keep in constant communication to avoid sour surprises and tension.
  • Keep me posted on your crew’s schedule. Nothing worse than relying on a project being done on time and finding out too late that it won’t be.
  • Without yacht owners, there would be no shipyard. Keep the owner’s interest and use of their boat as priority No. 1. Don’t kill the goose to get a golden egg.
  • The project manager has to be able to talk with the workers. Some yards only want the pm to deal with the single yard rep.
  • Do not overbook yourself. I know that is easy to say and that jobs grow after they start, but yards need to have that in their plan.
  • Communicate with the captain about other projects that will affect the workers on his project.
  • Use Gantt charts.
  • Adopt the Chilton estimating method of assigning hours to a job, as the automotive industry does.
  • invoice weekly.
  • Don’t waste materials and expect it to be paid for by the owner or refit budget. The other item is the extra walk-about labor time and all the needless breaks. Work ethic is a big problem in yards.
  • Make the person who started the job finish it. Don’t keep switching people between boats.
  • Create understandable billing.


About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is a writer with Triton News.

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