Engineers Have the Edge in Refits

Mar 24, 2022 by JD Anson
Credit: Photo by Capt. Grant Maughan

Refit: two little syllables that can strike fear in the hearts of the bravest crew. While some enjoy the process, many dread the endless minutiae that comes with organizing seemingly incompatible trades to get as much accomplished as possible in the small amount of time usually granted by the owner.

After months of use, engineers are in tune with the yacht. They learn what she wants and what she needs. Keeping a running list of tasks will give a good base to work with when the time for refit comes. Clarifying which of these tasks are needs and which are wants will help the captain discuss the upcoming work intelligently with the owner.

Owners understand that a yacht costs money. It is literally a small mobile town that must provide all its own infrastructure and utilities — from water and electricity to communications and waste treatment. All while being subject to shaking and vibration like a never-ending earthquake for days at a time. Being up front with the owner will keep the focus on priorities and the good of the yacht.

Class vessels have a valuable advantage. They are required to be maintained to a standard. Owners who are reluctant to spend money on necessary repairs can be forced to do so by the class society to maintain their certificate. As a last resort, the surveyor can be a friend in getting important repairs funded: If it goes on the report, it will need to be rectified.

To help put things in a perspective they can understand, mention that putting off the air-conditioning work one more season might cause them to lose their entire vacation when the chillers fail just as they are walking on board in Antigua with their friends. These days, a chiller could take months to procure. This can be true of nearly any equipment that is critical to the yacht’s use.

Beginning to organize the trades months in advance will allow time for needed parts to arrive and help guarantee service manpower on board. Like nearly every business in town, service trades are struggling to find enough experienced technicians to meet demand. The earlier they know what their schedule will look like, the earlier they can make sure that what is needed is ready upon the vessel’s arrival.

Most companies understand that several trades may be working in the same space and will organize timing for access among themselves. Regardless, the engineer must ensure that the schedule is being made and followed so there is adequate time for all to complete their tasks while adhering to the yacht’s schedule. No one enjoys being pushed to the end, then pressured to finish quickly to make up for others’ lost time.

JD ANSON HAS MORE THAN 20 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AS A CHIEF ENGINEER ON SUPERYACHTS. HE IS CURRENTLY PROJECT MANAGER AT FINE LINE MARINE ELECTRIC IN FORT LAUDERDALE.

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