Consider professional yacht delivery if you need to get your yacht from A to B – the pros can help you sort your yacht as well as deliver it
Production yachts are growing larger, new events are tempting people across oceans and cruising plans are more ambitious than ever, but the one commodity owners need to realise their ambitions – time – remains in short supply. So, there is a growing need for alternative ways to get yachts from A to B.
One solution is to ship a yacht with a specialist company like Sevenstar. However, a popular alternative is to employ someone for a yacht delivery, sailing your yacht on her own bottom. This has hidden advantages for new boat owners who join the yacht delivery passage, not least the chance to learn from experienced skippers and crew about how your boat and its complex systems actually work.
Founded in 1995, Professional Yacht Deliveries (PYD) has become the market leader in this specialist area. The team of 30 highly qualified skippers and over 500 hand-picked yacht delivery crew move more than 180 medium-sized yachts a year. Full-time yacht management is also a growing part of PYD’s business. The company is run from offices in Heswall on the Wirral peninsula in the UK, where managing director Mark Matthews grew up sailing dinghies and later larger yachts. Matthews is not only an RYA/MCA Yachtmaster, but also a member of the International Institute of Marine Surveyors.
His business partner, Nigel Wilkinson, is a civil engineer and a Yachtmaster Ocean and Cruising Instructor. Both are highly experienced offshore yachtsmen and, although they take shifts to monitor the delivery fleet 24 hours a day – there can be up to 30 yachts at sea at any one time – they still find time to deliver yachts themselves.
The Heswall office is the nerve centre of a worldwide operation from which all yachts on delivery are tracked constantly using the SPOT system. Weather routeing is forwarded to skippers and preparations are made to mobilise delivery crew and send out the relevant chart and pilot book packs for assignments anywhere in the world.
Much of PYD’s work is with northern European boatyards – owners want to relocate their new yachts immediately to the Mediterranean or be ready for a transatlantic crossing, possibly with the ARC. Hallberg-Rassy, X-Yachts, Hanse, Moody, Malo, Arcona, Dehler, Oyster, Discovery, Spirit Yachts and Beneteau are among the builders with whom PYD work.
Mark Matthews says that, apart from owners not having the time to deliver their new yachts, some are daunted by the complexity of what they have just acquired: “They may need help with how to work and maintain the ever-increasing amount of equipment on board, from watermakers and air conditioning to communications systems and even the sail wardrobe.”
Matthews and Nigel Wilkinson believe that the majority of yachts are now equipped with gear that most owners find difficult to maintain and repair. Many new owners even find that some equipment soon becomes surplus to requirements.
So, PYD increasingly find themselves instructing owners about how their boat works, which has led to the company offering full-time yacht management services and PYD skippers being asked to join owners, families and friends on holiday cruises and events such as the ARC.
All yachts delivered by PYD have to comply with a minimum equipment checklist and there are rigorous preparation and report procedures before and after a delivery. These can be particularly beneficial for the owner of an older, second-hand yacht, which will be subjected to a skipper’s delivery condition report covering everything from deck and topsides, spars and rigging – mast inspections are mandatory before and after delivery – to accommodation, bilges, tanks and skin fittings, safety equipment and the sail wardrobe. Anything untoward will be noted and given a rating (0-3), indicating whether something is either not on board, requires attention before the vessel puts to sea or is in good working order. It’s a valuable assessment for any yacht.
Skippers photograph much of the yacht before delivery and in some cases this has been invaluable when determining the cause of a gear failure later. For example, one yacht had a forestay failure during a delivery and PYD had a pre-delivery photograph to reveal that the cause was an almost imperceptible hairline stress fracture in a toggle at the top of the rig.
Accommodation surfaces are protected using pipe lagging and bubblewrap on timber surfaces, especially on doors and narrow passageways where harness buckles might come into contact with furniture.
Matthews is also keen to emphasise that it is entirely up to skippers to make judgments about whether to embark on a passage if, for instance, the weather is threatening: “We make a point of not forcing skippers to keep rigidly to a timetable if it means they are risking leaving in bad weather.” He adds that the budgeted delivery time is the total period within which the delivery could reasonably be expected to be completed, allowing some margin for delay.
How does it work?
For a start, all clients need to provide basic information about the yacht as well as about keyholder details, the delivery and contacts, and all yachts must have a minimum safety and equipment checklist.
A common issue is that owners overlook service periods, so that gear such as a liferaft which is in-service at the time of a yacht’s departure will become out of service during the delivery. Matthews adds that engine spares and correct tools are also often found wanting and that some clients do not understand the need for correct insurance.
On all deliveries PYD supply a minimum of three crew or four for transocean passages. Skippers and the first mate will always hold an RYA/MCA Yachtmaster certificate and deckhands must hold either a Yachtmaster Coastal certificate as a minimum or have equivalent experience.
Clients must inform their insurance company that PYD is to deliver a boat on their behalf. An endorsement to this effect must be issued or confirmation received, so that the cover owners have for the hull and third-party insurance is extended to the delivery skipper and the crew for the duration of the passage. No delivery can start without an endorsement. All PYD skippers are covered worldwide for professional skippers’ liability insurance.
What it costs
Mark Matthews says that the approximate cost of taking a 45ft yacht from, say, the Solent might be: £4,500 into the Mediterranean; £3,450 to Gibraltar; or £1,500 to Troon in Scotland. The price to deliver a 43-footer across the Atlantic from St Martin to Southampton would be around £10,500.
This is an extract from a feature in Yachting World June 2014 issue