Written by JFA Yacht & Ship Consultant Mark Outlaw
Describe the mission. It is very important to know your mission for your life on the water. If you are chartering to mitigate the cost of ownership, then you need to accommodate that in your “must haves” for the yacht. If your mission is fishing, then be sure that your charter guests will also have an extraordinary experience with the dining and accommodations. If the goal is a luxury lifestyle or an exploration experience, then elegance in décor, auxiliary vessels, toys, pool/jacuzzi and a galley that will achieve great meals are essential elements for the vessel and its layout.
Establish a budget. The budget must take into consideration not just the cost of construction but also the annual cost of operations including crew and maintenance.
Develop strategies for mitigating construction and operating costs. Will hybrid drives or automation help reduce fuel and crew costs? A prime consideration in those choices should focus on whether the initial investment in construction costs can be recouped in reduced operating costs over the expected life cycle of technologies being selected.
Select naval architect and an interior designer. These choices are critical to your overall satisfaction with the result. Given the mission you have selected and your own style and tastes you must be confident in the architect’s expertise with designing those types of yachts. The designer must understand and share your style to be able to provide you with interior and exterior living spaces that make you feel comfortable. When I’m shopping for a new car, I always sit in the driver’s seat and if I think to myself “Awwwwh”, then I know I want the car. Visit other yachts the designer has worked on and try them on for size. If you feel comfortable both visually and physically, you likely have made the right choice.
Identify must have options. The shipyards for new builds frequently have a hull design and a list of optional layouts, electronics, and other accessories. Are your must haves on their list? If so, then you will have an easy time determining the budget for the build. If not, will the yard be able to adapt to your requirements for a yacht? If so, it is important to get an accurate estimate of what those additional costs may be prior to starting the build.
Choose materials and propulsion. Keeping in mind your strategy for mitigating costs and the mission of the boat. Pick a shipyard that is used to using fiberglass, aluminum, or steel in their construction. Propulsion systems affect not just the cost of operation but also the ride, desired speed of the vessel and whether you will be able to achieve your mission given the limitations of the propulsion technology being used. This can be a balancing act with the architect and the crew’s ability to maintain the vessel rather than reliance on refit periods.
Create a draft representation of the yacht. Computer Assisted Design and the plans for the build will guide the construction. However, they should also keep in mind the need for maintenance and repair. Are critical systems easily accessible to the engineer, deck hands and the interior staff? Is any new technology being considered reliable or is technology that has a long history of reliability come at a higher cost of operation?
Determine jurisdiction of manufacture. Once the shipyard is selected, will the economy or political stability of the country where it’s located protect your investment during the course of the build? Economic instability can affect both availability of labor and its cost. Political instability can cause delays in the build or result in the necessary materials for the build to be made unavailable or result in the failure of the builder. If you intend to flag the vessel in another jurisdiction the cost of importation must be included in the overall cost of the vessel and its impact on potential tax exposure for the jurisdiction where you are resident.
Pick a shipyard. Once you have weighed the value and costs of the build jurisdiction, is the shipyard in that jurisdiction capable of building your yacht on budget and do they have access to a quality workforce?
Retain a project manager/captain to oversee the build. Part of the selection of the shipyard is its reputation for quality workmanship and efficiency in build timelines. You will trust your shipyard because you have selected it but trust must come with independent oversight. Select a Captain or project manager that can monitor the construction through all its phases and be an advocate for your best interests as the build progresses.
Acceptance and Commissioning. Once the build is completed and you have accepted the vessel there are normally additional costs in the commissioning of the vessel for those details you want on the yacht that were not included in the specifications for the delivery of the vessel. This can take a month or two of sea trials and practice cruises with guests on board to fine tune the operation the yacht and its crew.
Crew selection (based on recommendations from the Captain). Let your Captain take the lead on this.
Shake down cruises. A critical part of the commissioning process is where you test the systems on the boat to learn their limits and whether they meet or exceed expectations. They are an important element in addressing unintended consequences of the design and construction decisions that were made during the build. They will also give the Captain and crew experience operating the yacht to get its best performance with the least amount of stress on the yacht overall.
Schedule first mission cruise. Now it’s time to start living the dream that you have designed the yacht for. Enjoy it and perhaps share it with your family, friends and if you are chartering a whole new set of guests that you can help introduce to the yachting lifestyle!
Mark Outlaw is a founding member of the JFA Yacht & Ship Team, serves as CIO, and continues to enjoy working with his clients as a veteran yacht consultant. Looking for an expert yacht consultant who is an innovative expert who value’s integrity, superior service, and authentic relationships? Contact Mark Outlaw today at 561-319-7004 or at firstname.lastname@example.org