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Powering up Charter Success with Ward's Marine

Superyacht charter guests are bound to leave a successful charter experience with loads of great memories. They might fondly remember the food, the amazing water toys on board, the high-tech audiovisual offerings on the yacht, or a themed party.

However one thing that guests are not likely to remember is the fantastic electrical system on the yacht, and yet the electrical system is its beating heart, quietly and invisibly fuelling all of the systems that created those memories.

Ward’s Marine in Florida is a specialist manufacturer and installer of electrical systems in yachts. Here, president Kristina Hebert speaks to us in detail about these systems, and why they are so critical to a successful charter experience.

Decades of service

Ward’s Marine was established by Ward Eshleman Sr following the end of World War II. Combining his passion for boating with his professional knowledge of electrical systems, he founded a marine electrical company in his garage in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Its headquarters are still in Fort Lauderdale but it now has an additional facility in Riviera Beach. It is also tenanted in Rybovich Superyacht Marina.

The company began life mainly as a service business but gradually grew into a parts supplier with worldwide distribution agreements. “We’re not just sales and service,” Ms Hebert noted. “We also manufacture switchboards and panels that we design, and we manufacture Hubbell’s shore cords.”

Ward’s Marine is currently developing a new pedestal unit for Hubbell which, when launched, will be a unique product and an exciting new venture for the Ward’s team.

Evolution at the dock

Pedestals, for our readers who aren’t familiar with the term, are utility boxes traditionally mounted on marina docks alongside yacht berths. Each pedestal features a variety of connection points that deliver services like power, water, and internet connectivity to yachts moored at the marina.

“These new pedestals use smart technology,” said Ms Hebert. “The pedestal will inform a boat captain via an app, if there’s a problem with the power supply, such as an outage or a trip. This way the captain can immediately deal with the problem so that they can ensure that guests don’t return to a hot, stuffy yacht with melted ice in the ice dispenser.”

These pedestals will also be able to be removed and safely stored out of harm’s way during severe weather, or even just for the duration of the winter, with significant savings for the marina.

Sponsorship of the CCYS

The company is excited and proud to be a sponsor of the upcoming Caribbean Charter Yacht Show, running from 9-12 December in St Thomas. “We are a strong supporter of IGY Marinas and will continue to be in future. We support their ideology and what they’ve done for the industry. They’re not just a marina to provide power and water. They’re there to be a home away from home and we want to support that philosophy. We believe in IGY and we’re confident that they’ll make the show spectacular,” said Ms Hebert.

She furthermore confirmed that she hopes to use the show as an opportunity to increase the industry’s awareness of the importance of reliable power systems for successful charter experiences: “Vessels will spare no expense on food, soft goods and table settings,” she said. “But in our experience, if you want the galley to work properly, and you want the stereo, the lighting, the tenders and toys and all of those things to be implemented on board all at once, the most important system on your vessel is the electrical system. Guests want all of the electrical systems switched on all at the same time and so we want to make your electrical as safe and successful as possible, to make your charter successful!”

A powerful family legacy

70 years after it opened its doors, Ward’s Marine is still going strong and remains in control of its patriarch’s family, who are now in the third generation and continue to manage its day to day operations. Its president, Ms Hebert, is one of those family members and it’s a badge that she wears with pride. “The family ownership model is not something you see in companies anymore, and we couldn’t be more proud of it,” she said. 

Ward’s Marine has a board of directors that consists exclusively of Ms Hebert’s immediate family, including herself, her brother, and both their parents. “I think family businesses are tremendously different to non-family-based companies. There are many positives and some challenges, but the number one thing is that you have trust amongst everyone. You never have to worry about your business partner having another plan, for instance.”

Ms Hebert has worked at the company for 26 years, her brother for 30, and her father has been involved for 50 years. The family’s passion for the company runs so deep that even the family holiday dinner table doesn’t escape business discussions. “There’s no off time. Even at Christmas dinner, we’re talking about a project that we’re doing or a goal that we have! But on the other hand, I’ve had the greatest mentors; we’ve been trained our whole life and I look forward to the future.”

Call today, don’t delay!

Ms Hebert was concerned that charter yachts are currently so busy that required maintenance on electrical systems is frequently being deferred, either until forced due to restrictions, renewals or surveys and that eventually, that deferred maintenance will catch up and present problems on yachts. It doesn’t need to be that way. “Our departments work together to make our projects happen so that we can keep the boat strong and in charter. Our bigger goal is to ensure that brokers and captains think of Ward’s when they think of their electrical needs. Talk to us! You don’t have to have an electrical degree to call us!” 

Bonus question: What is something you want to learn or wish you were better at? 

“I would like to learn to speak Spanish fluently. I know enough to understand it, but I’d like to become fluent in it!”

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