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Set Sail: Old dogs, new tricks

Buyers wanting a unique superyacht should consider buying an existing yacht for a major refit. With a bit of planning the result can be a stunning, yet economical boat. Gareth Twist, MD of Yacht Solutions, explains.

By The Phuket News

Wednesday 7 January 2015, 10:00AM

Yacht owners today are opening their minds to extensive refits and conversions. Some owners who would normally be in the market for a new yacht are starting to understand the economic sense of investing in a brokerage yacht instead.

Others are holding on to their old yachts longer than usual before building or buying a new one and so may be refitting every 2-3 years.

The potential upsides of refitting a yacht are enormous; being able to play a part in how the yacht is finished and choose what it looks like is, for many, a means to enjoy the yacht journey before it actually begins. The financial savings make this option very appealing, too.

What should be considered when purchasing a yacht with refit in mind?

Some owners are naturally a bit anxious about undertaking such a project, and so to avoid potential pitfalls when buying a vessel to be refitted, choose a broker with integrity, select a reputable and honest surveyor and choose a good project manager and yard with a proven track record and references.

Last but not least, build in contingency funds. No one wants to think that their project will go over budget, but with all the will in the world, underlying problems do sometimes rear their ugly head and these problems cost money to fix.

What are the benefits of yacht conversions?

Today’s yacht owners are very specific about what they want, the products they want to use and most have done their homework and have a good idea of the vessel they want to buy and how much it is worth.

One of our clients wouldn’t have considered buying a new 40-metre, but then they found a yacht they loved and are now serious about refitting her to their exact specifications; she happens to be 50 metres.

This yacht then presented their golden opportunity to add a state-of-the-art cinema suite, karaoke bar with pop-art installations, changing all the colour schemes and finishes and converting a deck into a shaded outside entertaining area with plunge pool.

Sometimes a yacht that seems undesirable as is can become a wonderful value as a refit prospect.
Good naval architects and interior designers can help owners envision the possibilities for any yacht on the brokerage market.


What is the most important consideration when refitting a yacht?

For a successful refit, preparation and planning ensure owners get the yard they want and the team they need. Have the job planned out well before the project starts. Sourcing parts and products requires time.

Forward planning also keeps unnecessary costs down and enables the work to get underway as soon as the yacht arrives. A badly planned and managed refit can end up costing the owner almost as much money as he saved by not building a new yacht in the first place.

Good communication is key to a successful refit. The owner, the captain and the project manager must all be on the same page and have the same objectives for the project.

Yacht refit options range from minimal to massive. What is the scope? Is it a hull repaint? Is a major transformation required? Both good and bad news should be shared with the owner who should be updated regularly.

Choose a project manager and yard with a previous track record. Speak to captains who have used them before, and ask for recommendations. Don’t just choose a shipyard on price alone. Look at quality, timings, expertise and past history.

The Asia-Pacific environment can delay and affect the course of a refit. Look at what new technologies are around -- scaffolding and shrink-wrapping a yacht is a way of overcoming external factors of sun and rain.

We are now regularly shrink-wrapping yachts. This environmentally seals the project ensuring the work moves along as planned and the paint is applied in accordance with the manufacturers’ guidelines.

This is the first time this has been done in Thailand on this scale, and so these options are now available here.

Refitting gives an existing yacht an entirely new identity, both quickly and cost-effectively. In a market where an abundance of secondhand yachts is driving prices down, recycling is an attractive option and maybe an environmental one, too.

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