Why refit with Burgess?

Published 21 février 2024

The superyacht owners’ ideal is to have their yacht ready to go whenever they want to step onboard. We talk to Philip Naylor, Head of Marine & Technical Services and Burgess Partner, about how regular, planned maintenance is the key to owners maximising the enjoyment of their yacht.

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Philip Naylor

There are three main types of refit, the annual maintenance break, five-yearly special surveys, and longer refits where the yacht is overhauled and possibly upgraded. As Philip explains, when the annual maintenance breaks are properly planned and cover the immediate maintenance and repair requirements, they help to avoid a bow wave of cost building up in the future. 

'Where routine or annual maintenance is deferred it tends to bite at the five-year survey,' says Philip. 'Which is then likely to take longer and cost more money.'

Tailored maintenance 

‘Getting the annual maintenance period right is essential,' says Philip. 'This yearly check-up is key to keeping the yacht running smoothly for the owner.'

As a general rule, the annual maintenance break keeps the yacht well maintained and in good condition for use by the owner and charter guests. The work typically involves repairing or replacing equipment that was damaged or worn out during the season. 

'The most important task is to organise and plan routine maintenance throughout the year - using the yacht’s planned maintenance system,' explains Philip. 'Then to prepare a tailored scope of work for the annual maintenance break, and finalise the repair contract in good time, prior to entering the shipyard.' 

Protect the owner's interests

‘Our first involvement before the annual maintenance period is to fine-tune a master list of works,' Philip continues. 'A detailed master list leads to keener pricing, and accurately predicts the project period. 

'We prefer to prioritise the captain's and engineer’s proposed list of work using the MOSCOW system – must do, should do, could do, won’t do. 

‘Every fix or improvement has cost and time implications, and must be justified. In employing this system, we are protecting the owner’s - and vessel’s - best interests.’

Yacht owners want minimum time in the yard, and maximum time on the water
Yacht owners want minimum time in the yard, and maximum time on the water

Match the yacht to the yard

Burgess has strong relationships with all superyacht yards of calibre, and that is a major benefit to our owners. Simply put, it translates into matching the yard to the yacht’s maintenance requirements. 

As Philip clarifies, ‘We will use the master list to pre-qualify the yard - finding the correct skills and expertise needed.’

That Burgess has between fifteen and twenty yachts in shipyards at any one time gives the Technical Managers valuable insight into the yard's standards, and the capacity of the yard to fulfil a maintenance period to schedule. Technical Managers will go directly to the appropriate yards to tender for the work, and then compare the quotes in detail.

‘By setting this up correctly, Burgess protects the owner’s investment,’ Philip continues. ‘Once the annual maintenance is under way, the captain and engineer will manage the project, and can check in with Burgess as needed.' 

Burgess has strong relationships with the best shipyards across the globe
Burgess has strong relationships with the best shipyards across the globe

Tap into Burgess expertise

As the maintenance progresses, a Burgess Technical Manager will stay in contact with the project, and visit the shipyard as required. 

‘These touchpoints are important to avoid scope creep – which is the main reason why refit budgets are exceeded and redelivery is delayed,’ says Philip.

‘Within the Technical Management team we have experts in all areas of yacht maintenance. We tap into their specialism to offer the owner a uniquely bespoke service to cover exactly the maintenance that their yacht needs.’

Within Burgess Technical Services we have the experts to cover all specialisms
Within Burgess Technical Services we have the experts to cover all specialisms

Optimise the special survey

'The five-year special surveys is when all the regular, planned maintenance pays off,' says Philip. 'It also provides owner’s with an opportunity to undertake additional discretionary work - such as repainting the hull and superstructure, refitting the guest interior and upgrading onboard entertainment systems.'  

The five-year special survey is required by the Yacht’s Classification Society (Class), and provide the opportunity for Class to assess the overall condition of the yacht's structure and any safety critical items. At this point the suite of Statutory Certificates will also be renewed - these certificates are required by international regulations.

The owner can expect that the five-year special survey will take shipyard periods to the next level. Unless the yacht is going to restrict work to only Class surveys and certificate renewal, the refit period will take longer, cost more and operate along multiple swim lanes to complete the needed works.

As Philip details, 'The master list for a five-year survey might include underwater repainting, major engine overhaul, replacing navigational equipment and updating IT systems... In addition to the Class surveys and Statutory Certificates.'

A project manager is key to a successful five-year survey
A project manager is key to a successful five-year survey

Burgess has it covered

Effective planning and coordination are fundamental to the success of these longer refit periods. At this point, Burgess suggests that an owner should temporarily extend their Yacht Management agreement to include Refit Project Management. 

Taking on Refit Project Management is good financial sense, as Philip explains, ‘There is so much going on at once. It is not reasonable to expect the captain to manage this number of specialisms. 

'Cutting corners at this stage is likely to lead to costly mistakes, and a longer time out of the water. When a complex project is well managed, the cost savings and cost avoidance can easily outweigh the fee of the additional service.'

Time, quality and cost

The objective is to get the necessary work done to the required standard, at the agreed cost and with the yacht redelivered on time. Under this additional service Burgess can provide a full project management service to support the captain to balance these three key aspects of any refit – time, quality and cost. 

‘A Burgess project manager will have their finger on the pulse,' says Philip. 'They will be looking down the line to anticipate variations to contract, and will document all the changes. Monitoring how each variation impacts time and costs is key to protecting the owner’s interests.’

Burgess involvement will be tailored to the project, so the owner is confident to receive exactly the service they need. 'Each project has its own characteristics,' Philip continues. 'In some cases it will be sufficient for the project manager to attend the shipyard kick-off meeting, meet with the team virtually each week and visit the yacht once a month. 

'In the case of a very long and complex refit, the project manager might establish a local base and attend the shipyard once or twice each week. Either scenario is within our scope.'

The five-year special survey is an opportunity to refresh interiors, and even extend to add space
The five-year special survey is an opportunity to refresh interiors, and even extend to add space

Dream big

The five-year survey is recognised as a natural point for the owner to consider putting into play the big improvements they have in mind for their yacht. Whether that’s fitting zero-propulsion stablisers, or extending the stern to create a new beach club. This is where the owner can tap into the naval architects from Burgess Technical Services, to consult on what is possible. 

‘If a yacht is going to be in a shipyard for six or seven months for repainting, the owner can use that opportunity to make major alterations to their yacht,' says Philip. 'It can be an exciting time for an owner because they have an opportunity to reimagine their yacht to suit their precise requirements, and for those concepts to become reality.

‘Even without any major changes, after five years the yacht might start to look a bit tired inside and out,' continues Philip. 'An owner will almost certainly want to refresh the areas which have the highest use.’

Give owners peace of mind

When the yacht is ready for relaunch, Philip explains how Burgess Technical Management will bookend the maintenance period. ‘After the five-year survey, it is critical to accept the yacht back formally and re-commission the yacht using pre-agreed protocols. These are known colloquially as HATs and SATs (Harbour Acceptance Tests and Sea Acceptance Trials). This is another key skill that Burgess can provide.

‘Burgess are also able to offer warranty management as an additional service. This will agree any defects which might arise from the refit and hold the yard accountable to make good their work.’

Burgess Technical Management are ideally placed to offer each owner exactly the right maintenance package for their yacht. This helps to ensure that their yacht is impeccably maintained, with cost transparency and without too many surprises.

The service provided by Burgess Technical Management is designed to give our owners peace of mind that their yacht will be reliable and ready to enjoy.

Talk to us today

To have a conversation with Burgess Technical Management, please get in touch. Philip and the team are always ready to discuss your specific yacht refit requirements.

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