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Yacht Hibernation
Seateam
Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2009 7:47 PM
Joined: 07/05/2008
Posts: 4


I was appalled to see an advertisement in a mainstream yachting "glossy" touting yacht hibernation services that could save owners upwards of 60% or more in operating costs. Since this economic crisis is recent and unprecedented in the recent era relating to the growth of yachting and its acceptance as a legitimate industry, I can't help but wonder where they are getting their numbers from and how can they possibly make good on their promises? I cannot be convinced that you can preserve the value of a yacht and maintain it in the condition necessary with a "part-time" approach. So many issues come to mind like safety, insurance, and COSWP regulations to name a few. They promise "limited" availability and readiness for owner use which should raise a big red flag to any owner considering this type of "service". If I was a crew meember recently laid off or looking for work, I would be furious with these organizations. This smells so much like "predatory lending" or "sub-prime lender" to draw an analogy from current headlines. Owners don't be fooled, this is a blatant attempt to get a foot in the door and funnel your money away from the hard working crew that deserve a fair days pay for a hard days work.
monback
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 9:30 AM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36


Yacht hibernation services ?   sounds like a crude description. Id stay away from that group.


   Management companies offering Guardianage service have been around for years. They are a good way to cut costs.  I don't see what the problem is. When the owners finances take a dive or they have no time to use the yacht, you cant expect them  to pay for unutilized crew at inflated crew wages. 
        At present ,If you have any pertinent skills, its a good idea to work for these management companies directly. There are several super yachts in my marina operating at the dock, without crew.  The mothballed yacht next to me cut down from 8 permanent crew to a crew of two multi purpose senior engineers and a helper  putting in a solid 8 hours a day, 5 days week. I see a cleaning service give her a scrub down on Thursdays. 
    These management engineers don't work for free, but in the end they keep a good maintenance schedule going and don't burden the already stressed owner with big crew expenses.  I would expect that two years downrange , when the financial crisis ebbs, this yacht will be in fine shape and be ready to  accept a permanent crew and schedule.
  A good thing to remember is that every ten or so years, when the economic cycle dips, captains and interior service crew are not needed.   Engineers always have opportunities when the going gets rough..


Anonymous
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:21 PM
In the not too distant past it was fairly common for the European yachts to drastically cut crew in the winter. The laid off crew that stayed around the area would go onto to daywork and you might find yourself working a few days every couple of weeks on the yacht which had just laid you off. The winters were hard and if you had not saved enough money during the season the winters were really hard .... There have always been gaurdienage services on the smaller yachts of around 90 feet or so and one person would look after 2 or perhaps 3 boats. He would generally be a captain second and an engineer first. Perhaps you are seeing a newer version of the same thing. Yachting is not static and it will keep on evolving and changing ---- not always for the betterment of the crew. It has to breath to keep alive and breathing means expanding and contracting. We are now contracting. I can't say I like it, I may even end up a casualty of it but I do not think anyone is going to stop it for now.
Anonymous
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:23 PM

No, I actually have been promoting an absentee crew scenario for owners who have their vessels in static condition. Why pay for a full crew if the boat sits for six months when you can hire 1 full-time crewmember to wash the boat and have a captain on retainer to stop by the boat one a week to fire up the systems, manage the sole mate and take care of preventative maintenance? When the owner wants to take a little crew, I hire contract labor to fill out the crew list.

I have been doing this for years with brokerage boats and now that a few yacht owners are parking their boats and putting on skeleton crew, the business plan has been working out well.

The problem with the yacht crew community is that they forget who actually owns the vessel and what their wishes are.  Don't like it, more on.


bridgewatch
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:39 PM
Joined: 28/10/2008
Posts: 24


The persons working onboard yachts for the hibernation services which are usually run by brokerage firms or management companies are crew. There are just not as many crew and these crew are usually hard working, well organized, multitaskers with good engineering skills who more than likely are willing to do some cleaning as well. I don't know what advertisement you are referring to but if it suggests that the yacht would be ready for owner use, this is entirely possible if the yacht is in very good condition to start off with ( not in need of major repairs and with all safety gear up to date and serviced) and  it should only take a few days with some freelance help to get it owner and guest ready. Of course there has to be a proper lead time to get the crew chosen and hired on short notice  and any new freelance crew would have to be very organized and given the time to do proper safety briefs and drills. I know it can be done because I've done it. If you have ever done 24 hour turn arounds on a charter yacht you will know exactly how this can be accomplished - it can be done with hard work, good organization and long hours. 

My suggestion is that any deckhand that is interested in furthering his/ her career in this industry should look seriously at obtaining more engineering skills and education. Try working on the smaller yachts where the crew become very good multitaskers and learn to work more efficiently and as a team. It is at times like this that the crew with proven history of multiple skills and the willingness to do what ever it takes are those who will get the jobs.


monback
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 7:38 PM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36


Nice to see that some of you guys have been around for awhile.  I would think that the golden egg laid by this financial crisis will be the emergence of more and better management companies.
    I worked with a first class German Management company during the late 80's  for 7 years. This company maintained a core group of captains and engineers and paid us industry standard wage year round.  For me it was an educational experience. Many different yachts worldwide including two new builds in the Netherlands. These were 100 ft class yachts.
  This German management company's executives were hands on, no nonsense marine industry types and they truly could delivery value to the customer. As growth in the yacht industry expanded the number of these first class management companies shrank.  The present generation all seem to be big impersonal beasts providing  tax avoidance advice, yacht brokerage, charter services and crew placement.  In my mind these are specialty business's and should be separate from  core yacht management.
  .  With the German company we were three captains and four engineers who covered about a dozen yachts.  I would typically captain two yachts a year and spent serveral winters in  shipyards refitting yachts .. Prime customers were yacht owners with two yachts.  One new and another in brokerage or summer Med charter. This management company would assist the owner with choosing a central agent for charter or brokerage and stayed clear of conflict of interest issues.
    Another defect I see with  modern management companies is that they are  staffed by to many ex yacht captains. A yacht captain is typically not multi lingual and is thus unable to properly communicate with European customers and suppliers.  They also lack the industry contacts and charge way to much money.   Last time I talked with a manegment friend of mine, he was commenting that ex captains were appraoching him for a job and asking 10 grand a month .. Ideally yacht managers come from the marine industry.
  It will be interesting to see how this new world develops.  The German company that I worked with is no longer around...everyone got to old !!!!   I'm confident that owners will demand best value in the future.  The good ole' days of the past decade with unlimited budgets and waste is over.

Oh and if your a young deckhand, captain or engineer  I would make the time to intoduce yourself to a  management company.  They can be very good for your career.


Bear
Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 11:20 PM
Joined: 05/06/2008
Posts: 12


That is a naive comment based, one assumes, on total inexperience. 

First, if an owner wishes to mothball his yacht for a year or a decade to save himself some money, then that is his right so to do.   It is his boat.
  
Second, it is absolutely feasible to save more than 50% in mothballing and, certainly, if sensibly approached, the deterioration and maintenance of any vessel may be reduced considerably by appropriate preparation and, thereafter, removal of most of the crew.  

However, this person's comment is rather a useful illustration of what ails this 'industry';  ie. self important back-packing middle class 'semi-professional' crew with charge cards and skate boards, foisted on us at expensive agency rates, who consider little else than their own expenses paid welfare and their next skiing holiday before going home to regale their friends and mummies with their adventures.
Bring back the safe, relaxed, lifetime professional who can tie a Carrick bend blindfold, knows what to do in case of fire or flooding, is happy with the job he accepted because it supports his extended family and, as a result, is a happily loyal and reliable seaman year after year.
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monback
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:10 AM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36


I would like to see the prospectus circulated to owners by management companies .  Does anyone have a link to one on the Internet ?  I'm presently watching the progress of three yacht management companies preparing yachts for the summer Med season.  Only one of the companies appears to be professional. They have a gang down  this week removing diesel sludge from the tanks of a 30 meter motor yacht.  I like this kind of  preventative maintanence and attention to detail
    The other two companies seem to be in the lifestyle buisness and concentrate on  selling things to the customer. New jet skis, new paint work and new  yacht jewelry that generates a commision but does very little to preserve the core value of the yacht.  How will the owners recognize this ? 
Bear
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 5:00 PM
Joined: 05/06/2008
Posts: 12


MONBACK...
Nice to hear someone who seems to understand, and believes in, the fundamentals. Coincidentally, I too have been noticing the quantum differences between superficially similar 'management' companies.  Some are absolutely sensible, professional and very worthwhile operations, while others are complete charlatans.
The economic slump at least has the potential effect of helping to weed out the latter!   
  

monback
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 6:20 PM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36


One difficulty to running a profitable yacht management company is geography.  To be good at your job the yachts that you manage must be berthed geographically close to your workshop, office. Most of the guys I meet just cant get that critical mass of local projects to keep solvent. Places like Ft Lauderdale, Antibes and Palma work best.
 Ill gamble that if you want to start a new management company, a good place to look is this new superyacht marina in Montenegro that the Russians are building. Dockage is cheap, pleny of 30 meter berths, they are constructing a dedicated maintenance facility, yachts get to import vat free, Montenegro is not European union so yachts can keep their paperwork clean and its right at the base of Europe's best cruising ground, Croatia.  The yacht management company that harvests this trade will make a killing.

http://portomontenegro.com/en/marina/


Seateam
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 9:47 PM
Joined: 07/05/2008
Posts: 4


I am glad to read the replies to this, and maybe I was not clear enough in my initial post. In my opinion, there is nobody near as qualified to make the best decision for an owner as the captain he has entrusted to operate his yacht. Each yacht and owner are different, and formulating a plan  to ease the cost of ownership does not need to involve a third party. I take offense only to the advertisement and solicitation by outside sources proclaiming to be something they are not. Further, I should have clarified that I was not discussing the smaller cruising yachts which overwinter, as the crew on these boats knew at the time of hire (hopefully) knew that their job was seasonal. I disagree with some of the comments as to having one person wash, engineer flipping switches and running equipment periodically. I may be inexperienced and naive as I have only been a captain for seventeen years now, so thanks for the advice from those of you that have "been around awhile", I am always willing to learn new things. I have no doubt that this situation will turn around eventually, but this is a lesson we can all learn from. It deeply concerns me when "experts" appear out of the woodwork with the solution to all our troubles; the bottom line is that we need everyone to learn from this and in the process not to lose a current or future yacht owner because he feels he was betrayed or burned when they were vulnerable.

monback
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 11:49 PM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36


I  wouldn't  necessarily trust a captain and Ive been one for 30 years !!!.  My guess is that less the 20 percent of all the captains out there are industry professionals. 80 percent are  simply boat drivers, entertainers, that provide customer service.  
    A true yacht manager has vast experience with many different yachts and is very familiar with numbers. I just spoke to a manager and he presently has three yachts going thru re sprays. That's over one million worth of paint work.   He is very powerful when dealing with sub contractor   pricing and delivery time.  A captain could never do this, he simply pays the bills every 4 years..
     Speak with any owner and listen.  Making yacht ownership  more affordable is critical.  The present economy is dead slow. Ive never seen a big holiday weekend like this..its Semana Santa a five day holiday in Spain and not one yacht has left the dock.  Not one.  The marina parking lot is empty, the resturants are empty.  Big change happening in the industry and its going to last a long time.  What you have seen in your past career is the days of milk and honey.
   When you describe this search for economy as Hibernation, I think you choose the wrong word, its Sounds derogatory. Naturally a compromise must be found with permanent crew staffing.  Crew need jobs and wont be able to make a career out of part time seasonal positions.
    We will see how this detail is approached and I'm like you, I don't trust most management companies.   I see how poorly they treat boats. This winter we had a severe storm blow thru.  Many of the managed yachts sustained serious damage because no employee came down at 4 in the morning when the wind was topping 70 knots to inspect and secure the yacht. My neighbor., a 35 meter mothballed management yacht lost both sat com domes when canvas  covers blew away and wrapped around the domes. Plenty of crushed gangways and beat up awlgrip.  Id have their ass if it were my yacht under management.
    We all know that yachts cant do their jobs without  professional, happy, well paid, secure crew.. The big question is What does the future look like ?  What would you recomend to a new yacht owner ?
 
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