Yacht Transport is not a common topic of conversation, and vessels just magically appear wherever they're supposed to be, wherever in the world. But behind the scenes there are some hefty logistics and a team of highly skilled people, above and below the water, as we hear from Laura Tempest, General Manager of DYT Yacht Transport based in Fort Lauderdale.
OnboardOnline: How did you get into the yachting industry?
Laura Tempest: Like so many of us in the industry, I grew up around the water in Jacksonville Florida. I was naturally drawn to working on and around the water. Shortly after graduating college I started working for a company that specialized in the commercial implementation of marine navigation and communication equipment. After several years in that position, I relocated to Miami to begin working on implementing navigation and communication systems on yachts.
OO: When did you join DYT Yacht Transport and how did it come about?
LT: I joined DYT Yacht transport in 2007, at the time, known as Dockwise Yacht Transport. I learned of the company from my husband and was immediately intrigued by the business. I applied to a booking agent vacancy and the rest is history.
OO: What does your role as General Manager entail?
LT: My primary responsibility, in the simplest terms, is to maximize our stowage; regarding both revenue and space.
Surrounding that is collaborating with a great team each and every day to realize these expectations. “It takes a village!”
OO: Spliethoff, the leader in worldwide ocean transport, owns both DYT Yacht Transport and Sevenstar Yacht Transport, so to what extent do you collaborate or compete?
LT: The market in which we all operate is very small so there is a level of competition. That can’t be avoided.
Rather than focus on the competition, we focus on the benefit of having a sister company in the industry. DYT and Sevenstar are able to offer extended capabilities to our clients.
DYT is limited with our schedule and ports of call. We've had many occasions where a valued client of DYT is looking for a destination that we couldn’t service. Prior to 2013, and becoming a part of the Spliethoff group, we were not always able to find a solution, whereas now we can offer an extension of our service by introducing Sevenstar and their ability to ship globally.
Laura with the DYT team
OO: Having been known for many years as Dockwise, did the transition to DYT Yacht Transport create any issues for the company?
LT: I do feel we could have done a better job of 're-introducing' ourselves in 2013 as DYT Yacht Transport. There were a few years of confusion about whether we were really the company that had the 'sinking' ships or just a new transport provider.
We were grateful Spliethoff recognized that the staff were an invaluable part of the acquisition so we all stayed on.
The brand itself and the reputation our team had built for so many years kept us visible in the industry, not to mention our one of a kind submersible ships, which served as a reminder that despite the name 'Dockwise' being absent, everything else was present.
OO: DYT also has a great record in staff longevity, from management to divers and loadmasters, so what’s the secret?
LT: If I said, it wouldn’t be a secret any longer!
What I can say is that there are no two days that are alike. It helps that the actual process in which we ship yachts is extremely 'cool', as many people put it, presenting a unique set of challenges in each operation. Our team thrives in this environment and keeps us all interested in what tomorrow may bring.
OO: Outside fixed sailing schedules and maintenance, how do you keep the ships busy between seasons?
LT: We cater largely to the needs of private and charter yachts that adhere to seasons in the Mediterranean (Spring/Summer) and Caribbean (Fall/Winter). That leaves a couple of months each year in between where the vessels have idle time. If the vessels have planned maintenance, we will schedule that during those weeks.
If not, we are working throughout the year in partnership with our Exceptional Marine Transport (EMT) division of Spliethoff to secure special projects. Some examples include shipping River Cruisers within Northern Europe, Tugs from the US to Dubai and Modules from Italy to Suriname.
OO: Already based in Genoa and Monaco, DYT opened an office in Palma in 2017, ever popular with crew, with a growing number of large yachts - a case of right place, right time?
LT: Many years ago, we had a very successful agent based in Palma. It’s always been part of our long-term planning to one day have a dedicated office and dedicated staff in Palma. To see it come to fruition in 2017 with Susanne joining our team was a case of 'right time' and the 'right person.' In addition to our presence in Italy and France, this is a very exciting prospect for DYT.
OO: Meanwhile, as the industry keenly anticipates growth in the Asian market, does DYT have plans for a presence in China?
LT: The Far East has always been on the radar for DYT and part of our long-term planning. Our current limitation is operating only two vessels and meeting the highest demand for our clients, which remain the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Short seasons limit our ability to service one market in combination with more remote locations.
Laura with Jeff and Gina Last
OO: What would you change if you could?
LT: I’d like to be about three inches taller and a lot lighter!
I would like to see more accountability and transparency among all transport providers. At the very basic level, we are a logistics provider and with that comes many variables that can’t be predicted and quite a few that are certain.
Our clientele now, compared to seven years ago, is much more knowledgeable about shipping solutions. They know what questions to ask and what concerns should be raised. Why not get ahead of that and present truths about the services that are being offered? We are making these types of changes internally now.
OO: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career so far?
LT: I’m still learning every day! Listening is the key to any mutually beneficial relationship. Respect is paramount and to be understanding of circumstances. And maybe my favourite of all, keeping a sense of humour through it all.
OO: Who has most inspired or influenced you in the world of yachting?
LT: I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by a village of amazing individuals throughout my career. For yachting specifically, I would say that Jeff and Gina Last have had the biggest impact on me. They both took me under their wings and exposed me to every facet of the business. They fostered an open environment that encouraged input and ideas and supported my growth every step of the way. And they taught me how to pour a proper glass of champagne!
OO: What is your motto?
LT: Life’s too short, so smile while you still have teeth!