Yacht Refits and Boat Refurbishment: What to Know Before You Start

The yacht business has been booming. When the pandemic hit, all of us braced to see how it would affect the industry. But lo and behold, in 2020 boat sales reached a 13-year high. That boom isn’t showing signs of slowing down as 2021 has surpassed 2020. As demand peaks, more boat owners are considering…

The yacht business has been booming. When the pandemic hit, all of us braced to see how it would affect the industry. But lo and behold, in 2020 boat sales reached a 13-year high.

That boom isn’t showing signs of slowing down as 2021 has surpassed 2020.

As demand peaks, more boat owners are considering yacht refits and boat refurbishment as an alternative to buying new.

But even for long-time boat owners, yacht refurbishment can shine your boat up with a fresh interior and much-needed repair. Whether you have a current boat that you want to upgrade with modern yacht interior design touches or just want to bring a used boat that you buy up to your tastes, here are key things you should know about undergoing a yacht refit.

Planning For an Extensive Refit

When undertaking any refurbishment project, you need to sail in with a plan. One of the quickest ways to cause a months-long delay on getting your boat back from your chosen yacht refit company is changing your mind every five seconds on what you’re looking for.

When you meet with your yacht refit company for the first time, be clear with them on the scope of the project, what you’re expecting in terms of custom yacht interior design or system upgrades, and what kind of budget you’ve set aside.

Your refit team should know whether you’re just wanting to gut the interior and do a yacht refit design more customized to your tastes, or whether you’re expecting a more extensive refit that covers the kind of stripped-down engine servicing, rigging replacement, rewiring, and general mechanical servicing that can keep your boat moving smooth for a long time down the line.

This requires being able to separate your “must-dos” from your “want-to-dos.”

Though reshaping your interior layout might seem like the perfect way to guarantee a “before and after” refurbishment success story that impresses all your friends, undergoing structural projects (especially unnecessary ones) can significantly set back your timeline and your wallet.

If an interior overhaul is just what you’re looking for with your yacht refurbishment project, then that kind of layout reshaping might be key. But if you’re just wanting to fix wear and tear while upgrading designs to your tastes, then switching out furniture, replacing wallpaper, and polishing your woods to bring them back to their original luster might be a better way to spend your budget.

Expect the Unexpected

Speaking of your wallet, don’t make the mistake of assuming that the initial price on your bid package will be the one you end up paying at the end of the day. Especially when undertaking custom yacht refit projects on older boats, you should expect that that one starting mechanical concern (like an engine that’s making sounds like it’s on its last leg) can turn into multiple pieces of equipment that need fixing and plenty of extra dollars added to your project cost.

A good crew should be consistently tracking the conditions of your vessel and the machinery operating hours logged, while keeping you updated on what equipment needs to be serviced, repaired, or replaced.

But for boats without a consistent crew, getting an “up to date” snapshot of your vessel’s condition can help you and your yacht refit team be realistic about what your top maintenance priorities should be and how your budget and timeline will be affected.

An experienced and certified surveyor can check out your boat’s hull, machinery, equipment, and rigging while making maintenance and safety recommendations that can direct your refit plan. This can help make sure that the price on your bid package truly reflects the work that needs to be done to keep your yacht in top shape—and keep you loving her for the long-term.

Involve Your Insurance

Heading into the yard for a refit can expose your boat to risks, ones that your insurance company can help you navigate. Many shipyards will ask you to sign contracts that waive the yard’s liability (at least to some extent) if damage is done to your boat while it’s in their care.

Legally, your insurance company needs to be looped in before you sign one of these waivers, since signing could invalidate your insurance contract and cut off your current coverage. If they are given enough notice, your insurance company can help you negotiate these terms so they are fair.

Without the insurance company by their side, boat owners and captains can feel backed into a corner, and end up signing a contract that puts them at risk of potentially losing hundreds of thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. They can also end up signing a deal without considering whether they have sufficient coverage for what they have planned, or whether their coverage includes dry-rock periods.

Keeping an open line of contact with your insurance company offers the security of knowing you won’t be at substantial financial risk if your boat is damaged, while helping you navigate all the ins and outs of liability.

Find the Right Yacht Broker

If you’re considering a custom yacht refit project instead of buying new, a good yacht broker can help you find a boat that matches your needs and has the right bones to help you achieve what you have in mind.

They’ll also be able to point you toward the right yacht refit companies to turn your vision into reality, while helping you figure out insurance coverage options so that you stay protected from extra costs in the event of boat damage in the yard. So that you experience nothing but smooth sailing while undergoing your yacht refits, and end up with a vessel that looks and runs exactly as you wanted it to.

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