If you’re a crew member in the superyacht industry you’ll be all too familiar with the process of an annual yard period or even a major refit. There are many factors that make up a great refit facility or haul out centre, all of which are major considerations when captains are weighing up the options. Here are some experiences from the team at Seahub and how they have managed yard periods both as crew members and, most recently, as software providers to the industry.
As crew you will experience many different types of yard period, ranging from straight forward bottom cleaning and new anti-fouling to major projects across all departments, with multiple contractors working simultaneously. In most cases you have the luxury of choosing your shipyard for the end of the season or a scheduled break. However, unexpected circumstances do arise and in such cases you may have to choose from what’s available rather than where you’d rather go.
The crew experience will vary depending on your role and what is expected of you during a planned yard period. Almost all captains are looking for a short turn around to keep costs down and get the yacht back in operating mode, so often your time in the yard can be full throttle with long hours. Having said that, yard periods can be a nice change to a busy charter season where you can put your head down and get the work done.
“I found yard periods generally to be great experiences. I learnt more about engineering and the inner workings of the vessel as an engineer during a yard period compared to any other time onboard. Getting in the bilge and pulling pipes apart for cleaning or watching the propeller shafts being removed. It was a steep learning curve and one I learnt a lot from” says Matt Hyde, Technical Director of Seahub.
Of course, not all yard periods go to plan and inevitably there are speed bumps along the way. Depending on the vessel size and location, shipyards can also be located in industrial hubs, far from the comfort of a high-end marina, but crew sometimes use this time to enjoy a more normal living environment of full sized beds, backyards and the commute to work.
An important facility for crew is a meeting area or social venue within walking distance of the boat. Yard time can be quite stressful, so the opportunity to mingle with other crew is a great release and a boost to morale. If your crew are unhappy and don’t want to be there, it will impact the work environment and crew turnover is likely to increase.
“Crew comfort is an important consideration in terms of a shipyard’s facilities. Captains know that crew productivity is essential to a successful shipyard period and the provision of a crew house during this time can make a big difference. Just as important is the quality of contractors and effective project management by shipyard personnel.” says Sam Wheaton, Commercial Director of Seahub.
Crew will always play a pivotal role in any yard period and even when the majority of work is contracted out they must still ensure that jobs are getting done by the right people at the right time. It’s a great experience for some, and many learn a lot from the experience. For engineers it can be a time of high stress but it’s also an opportunity to understand the vessel and its components in far greater detail.