I recently read an article in the December issue of the Superyacht Report on refitting 30 to 45 raising the barmeter production yachts. In the article, Mr. Franco Cattai of Amico Loano Shipyard mentions how owners of yachts this size-range are split into two categories, i.e. those who have had yachts of this size for many years and those who are first time buyers. The latter often purchasing a yacht as a status symbol rather than being passionate about yachting.

Mr. Cattai goes on further and states that “it is clear that the shipyards task has a psychological aspect because we have to encourage the owner to invest in the fundamentals and basic maintenance that are often side-lined in favor of aesthetic/decorative requests….” (The Yacht Report, December 2015. Refitting 30-45m Production Boats. page 22 paragraph 4)

I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Cattai. I would like to however add that it should be the entire yachting industry’s task to provide not only the encouragement he mentions, but also the adequate support and education so a buyer / owner can assure their wants and needs are most suited to their budget, short and long-term

A yachts expenses often exceed those of small businesses. Chartering, if anything, only aids in reducing such costs.  If a buyer is not properly aware, then the lack of information is frequently the catalyst for a slippery slope to a bad yachting experience.

We’ve all heard stories, -some quite horrifying-, where crew are to blame, where a broker ‘sells’ the yachting experience at a fraction of its actual costs, or the yacht management company abuses their power and position.  I am sure there will always be those stories but I think it would be nice to be able to reduce some of them.

Referring back to Mr. Cattai’s comments, it is my opinion that when it comes time for a yacht to head back to shipyards like his, it would be far easier for him as well as all others involved, if we as an industry were to apply, -if you will-, further risk management principles. In essence an industry-wide goal of self-improvement and self-regulation.

Among othproductivityer things productivity and quality would be influenced. Improvement in safety and safety standards would come more naturally and almost be a bi-product of the processes. Cost effectiveness would increase with an ultimately savings to the owner, probably also better margins for all those in the industry.

Part of this improvement of course then is the [relatively] new application of the likes of the ISM code and other laws and regulations.  The problem with all new regulations though is the animosity towards them. People don’t like change. Then of course the regulations don’t always [fully] apply to everyone.

The ISM Code for example, does not apply to the size range of yachts Mr. Cattai talks about but if we look at the influence the Code has had on those yachts required to follow it, it has been a positive one.

The down-side is that the Code has also been considered rather tedious to implement, with an increased, sometimes unnecessary work-load to all considering its commercial application. Its interpretation can get rather tedious as well however “the ISM Code is nothing more than the application of common sense.” This is a valuable sentence I once found in the notes of an ISM/DPA course I completed a while back.

I have digressed here. Nevertheless I think it is agreeable that the Code has increased not only the safety bar, but also the level of professionalism across the [larger yacht] board.  If we do nothing more than apply that ‘common sense’ notion and some risk management principles for smaller yachts, we will ‘up’ the professionalism anti and very importantly, safety will be increased.

Yachting dreams, whether ownership or career oriented will be positive and fulfilling and the passion that Mr. Cattai talks about will grow.

This then, can be another topic in the next issue of the Yacht Report!

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