To refit or rebuild, that is the question
When multi-millions are involved, this type of R&R isn't as restful as it sounds
The same is true of superyachts. In times when superyacht owners think to keep their craft rather than selling them, many choose to spend their money on the very best of refits instead.
There are many reasons why owners consider a refit. It may be in a bid to increase the value or the performance of an existing yacht, or simply because they love their present yacht and want to keep it at its best. Alternatively, they may deliberately have bought a yacht that needs refitting, taking advantage of the financial benefits behind this approach.
For potential new owners (and indeed experienced yachtsmen who don’t want to be separated from their loves for long), refit rather than new build is a very attractive option for time critical factors. To build a superyacht within the 50m range, an owner could expect a two-year wait from concept to delivery, yet refitting one could reduce that time by two thirds.
The process the owner must first consider is often referred to as the three Rs of yachting: rebuild, restore and refit. These three words can, and sometimes do, blur together into one general term labelled refit. No matter how they are used, they generally involve the expenditure of large amounts of time and money for those at every level of involvement.
Refits are frequently classified as minor, routine or major. A driving force behind major refits is the strong desire to ensure a yacht remains in, or is brought into line with compliance of current regulations, particularly now that the MLC convention is in place and Port State Control inspections are becoming normal.
A light bulb moment
The changing regulations around the world can play an important role in choosing which of the three Rs to follow. Marco Struik, managing director of Struik & Hamerslag (an interior outfitters with facilities in Holland and the UK) tells us of a refit which was triggered by the worldwide energy saving rules banning the sale of traditional light bulbs.
That refit, on a yacht we cannot name, is ongoing and will finish just as this book is published. Struik & Hamerslag had originally completed the interior of the yacht some 20 years ago and technically there was nothing wrong with the existing interior.
Marco Struik takes up the story, "The owner was forced into asking himself the question, why, when you have to change the light fittings, do you not undertake some other changes at the same time? True, his yacht’s styling was around 20 years old, and was definitely different from contemporary fashion trends. So he became open to the idea of an interior refit rather than a maintenance project. As every owner knows, once an interior designer starts developing his ideas: creativity rules. The end result of that creativity has seen the yacht undergo a complete refit of the main saloon and dining area."
“We have not simply removed the existing décor and replaced it with a new interior,” continues Marco. By being smart and working with the owner and his team we have re-used those components that were still as good as new, rather than waste good elements. In practice, the structures of the storage units and basic constructions have been saved and re-used. Decorative surfaces and other visible elements were renewed. Unique elements, like decorative tabletops and items, have been saved and refinished for an extended life."
"At the end of the day, no superyacht owner wants to waste good material. The result will look as if the yacht has had a complete makeover. Her appearance will be totally different, even though the original interior structural fabric has been preserved and re-used for the greater part. Apart from saving precious money, the refit will have been completed in a much shorter time than if we had ripped the yacht apart.”