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When having a yacht built...

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by FlyingGolfer, Feb 6, 2021.

  1. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I assume you're going to have a captain and possibly an engineer on this boat. They probably be the ones you want overseeing construction.
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Well, I did two weeks ago, so why not read. lol. Actually only 13 days ago.
    gr8trn and CaptPKilbride like this.
  3. BRyachts

    BRyachts Member

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    Actually the Capt and Engineer only need to be brought in close to the end of the project.
    A proper Project Manager is much better. A project Manager, that is up to speed on new builds, can help with the contract and specifications BEFORE the contract is signed, that's where the money is saved and the upgrades set in the specs. Once the contract is signed the shipyard is in the drivers seat and they can rake you over the coals for any changes, that's how they make their money.
    About the time the contract is signed the Project Manager will either do, or assist the owner with all the "packages" that need to be purchased and arranged, Navigation, Entertainment, Tenders & toys etc etc. During the bulk of the construction a Manager will visit the yard/yacht regularly, keep owner up to speed on progress, sign off payments etc. At this time equipment layout of those previously bought "packages" will begin. Dash and pilothouse layout, TV & Audio layout, working with inferior desocrator, I mean interior decorator to get a usable attractive interior, well laid out galley, storage spaces, crew area etc.
    Most of the boats I built averaged three (3) years from contract to to Ft Laud boat show, Capt might be hired or transferred from owners previous vessel with about six months to go, but was usually only brought in to the yard with about four months to go to get up to speed on the layout and new technology and vessel operational parameters. Then Engineer and Mate brought in to begin outfitting their department with tools, spares, lines, fenders, etc. Chef is a bit later, to outfit galley and crew area. All these supplies will be stacked in storage waiting to be loaded after sea trials and eventually handover.
    I usually began, at the shipyards request and schedule, my quality control with about six months to go. As the yard would finish up a system or area, and prepare to test/put online I would be notified, and work with the yard to inspect and provide a punch list for operation, fit, finish, etc. And this got increasingly hectic until handover and every inch of the vessel had been inspected/tested.
    During this time I would also be working with the Capt and Engineer teaching them how the systems had been designed to operate, controls, alarms, backups etc.
    Finally trials, handover and the inevitable warranty punch lists.
    Now the crew can move onboard, and begin loading all those supplies and equipment that they've been buying, inventorying for last few months.
  4. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    A project manager is an excellent idea. I was assuming the captain / engineer would fill that position.
  5. BRyachts

    BRyachts Member

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    Most Capt's / Engineers know their particular job, but are not trained and have no experience dealing with shipyard and vendor contracts, let alone day to day building sequence and techniques. A good project Manager does this on a daily basis.

    The shipyard is trying to make money, they want you to sign a bad contract, then pay to make changes, Ka-ching$$$.

    Example 1: Proud new Owner signs contract at boat show, later looks at aft deck and decides he wants different seating and a bar. Shipyard "No problem Sir, that will be $27,000 and add one month to your build".
    Example 2: Prospective Owner sits with Project Manager and Yard salesman trying to make the deal. "Well, we like the boat, but we need to change the aft seating and add a bar". Shipyard, trying to sweeten the deal, "Yes Sir, we can easily make that change for no charge, it's the same amount of construction material, should have no effect. Just sign here and we'll begin construction."

    There are MANY items like this that can be worked out by a good Manager long before a Capt is involved.
  6. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Thanks. Learning here. I always dealt with smaller boats where I coached the negotiations and supervised the refits, and left contracts between the owner and his lawyer, but I've never been involved in a new build nor something this size.
  7. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    That's where the type build, the builder, the qualifications of the captains and engineers all come into play.

    My largest has been 130' and all mine have been semi-custom, not custom. Builders have had extensive well organized lists of all decision items and all have been decided either in advance or at a due time. Any design changes in advance. I'm in control because I'm always going to have it spelled out up front. Key work is that done before entering into the contract. Also my current build of 14-15 months from contract to delivery is my longest.

    So a full custom 300' at 3 years is a much different story.

    Experience counts too as my managing captain and my chief engineer have been very involved in major builds. My chief engineer worked as project manager on a 400'. We have two engineers with extensive structural and naval architect knowledge too and many don't have that.

    I think the owner must be disciplined. They must make timely decisions or no project manager can make things smooth. We did something interesting in the current build and that was with our Chief Engineer, our Chief Stew to manage aesthetic in interior subjects. Also any issues they wanted to run by us, one call and an answer back to the builder the next day.

    I am not likely to ever do a complete custom build. I want a proven design and if one has been built and successfully then I'll work from there. I'm not going to go in and change everything but simply tweak those things we find most objectionable. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. I just don't have the tolerance for a full custom.

    You need to know your team, know your builder, but also know yourself.

    I've seen people redesigning major aspects of a boat in the middle of a build. Wasn't a major yacht but a 40' or so and had I been the builder, I would have gotten fed up early but their relationship was great. I don't understand that approach.

    Even with a project manager, I'd recommend involving your own employees early. Someone needs to manage the project manager and insure they are representing your best interests at all times. If you want to see otherwise, look at the final Northern build. The project manager was not, in my opinion, representing the owner but protecting other relationships. I've seen other project managers that way. If you contract through a sales organization, I don't want a project manager from them. They got a commission from the builder and are not your agent. I've seen project managers repeatedly trying to justify the choice the sales organization made.

    We used a surveyor to manage much of a build, but we still had our staff heavily involved.

    BRyachts points out some good things. Don't make changes like the seating or bar after the contract. Do so upfront. It will make the build smoother and save you money. Some dollars and cents on that. Upfront, I'll only charge you any actual cost differences. Midway, I'm going to charge you for the cost differences plus a hefty profit on that plus a fee for the change. So, something that might have been $25k up front ends up $50k.

    A huge difference between building a 112' Westport and a 300' Oceanco. But also a 62' Nordhavn is a far more complex build than the Westport. More variables and a commissioning done by another party or parties. From contract to delivery of final product it takes longer on the Nordhavn.

    Also, have an experienced attorney review the contract and a risk manager protect you against all aspects of the build.
    rocdiver likes this.
  8. f3504x4ps

    f3504x4ps Member

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    Wow, great information, will need to remember all this when doing a new build. Thanks all for your contribution.
  9. ychtcptn

    ychtcptn Senior Member

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    If your building your first yacht, there is no better company than Westport to start with. They build on time, on budget and the boat includes everything you need to go yachting right out of the box.
    Of course have a surveyor/project manager involved, they have built many of each model and have it down pretty well, the need is much less than a custom boat.
    All boat builders will have their warranty issues, it's how they deal with them after the build that counts, WP is very well known for their great after sales and warranty.
    Olderboater is spot on in his recommendations.

    In full disclosure: I have been running a Westport for the last 14 years and know the company very well.
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    In full disclosure, ychcptn was one of several here with extensive Westport experience we talked to before our purchase. Also, we chartered several. So, the only major variation we wanted from their standard, we were able to say we want it just like xxxxx which you built several years ago. I highly recommend chartering the boats you're considering or nearest you can find. More Westports available to charter than any other brand. We used chartering to confirm our leanings and to confirm what we were leaning away from.

    Selection of builder is a huge part of the process. Select the wrong builder and all the diligence in the world won't get you what you hope for.

    Also, be aware companies change. Is the builder under the same ownership as before? How has a change impacted them? Same management? What is their financial situation. I'll give you a contrast example. Moonen has been around a long time. A Dutch builder. What could be better. Well, change in ownership and structure several times resulting in current Australian couple taking over in 2019 and new management in 2020. Perhaps another only way to get your boat finished is own the company. Few boats built over the last few years. No real indication of any current capability. Very easy to show models on a website whether you've built them or not. Look at Burger's site for all the incredible new designs, none of which they have ever built. Then look at Westport. Orin Edson owned for years and in his 80's he sells. But here's the big positive. He sells to Gary Chouest. First to a Westport owner and friend. Second, to one of the largest boat builders there is, building huge numbers of commercial vessels and family owns a small yard that builds SF's. Avid boating family. Money definitely not an issue. And management of Westport remains the same. Not even a hiccup. I worried about their future as Orin Edson aged. They've been very fortunate twice now. First as Orin Edson stepped in when the Rust family needed help and then with Gary Chouest.

    Little things can impact a company. What happens to a huge entity like Wanda Group which owns Sunseeker when the Chinese Government introduces limitations on Chinese owned banks making loans to private firms for foreign investment. Well, they sold $9.4 billion of assets, although not Sunseeker as it's such a small relative investment. But don't bet for a moment, they wouldn't sell Sunseeker if an offer appeared. Sunseeker is barely a footnote on their financials.

    Understand history. Marquis/Carver and Christensen are great examples there. Just follow the history of Irwin Jacobs and Henry Luken. Their boating industry activity has only imitated their careers prior to the industry.
  11. FlyingGolfer

    FlyingGolfer Member

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    My initial attraction to Westport was the standardization of models and the resulting reliability of construction and maintenance. In aviation, it is not advisable to buy the first year production of a new model. Let someone else experience the slings and arrows of unscheduled breakdowns of untested (by experience over time) systems and the integration thereof. I never considered checking the financial health of the yacht company. In aviation, Bombardier is going through potentially lethal times as we speak.
  12. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    You absolutely have to consider the financial stability if you enter a build. If someone goes BK during your build or closes the doors you are going to be SOL. In the commercial shipbuilding world we not only have to provide builders risk insurance but most want a completion bond too.
  13. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Those are possibilities in the recreational world as well.

    One thing I've observed is that most who get yachts built are experienced and successful business persons. However, for some reason, many forget everything they know when they build a boat. They don't do the same due diligence they'd do on equipment or a building or acquisition. They don't use the business principles that have served them well. Building a boat is business. Using it is personal. Treat building like you would any major business investment.
    rocdiver likes this.