To refit or rebuild, it’s a love thing

There are many funny stories along the way – not least the one that involved the Jacuzzi!

It’s a love thing

If light bulbs were the trigger for a cosmetic makeover, then love was to blame for the rebuild of superyacht Fenna. Originally built in The Netherlands, the owner of this motor yacht found Fenna in the USA. He fell in love with her classic lines and history and sought to restore her to her former glory.

As is often the case with old yachts, the interior volumes were disappointing by modern day standards so he commissioned the Balk shipyard on the Dutch island of Urk to rebuild her, cutting the vessel in half and adding two metres to her overall length.

Daan Balk, the yard’s managing director, said, “For us it was a very nice project. The yacht looks much better. The yacht gained a lot of volume in the interior, which made the owner incredibly happy and satisfied with the end result.” The same Dutch shipyard worked its magic on Berzinc, originally built by Camper & Nicholsons in the seventies. Here again, the owner was deeply in love with the classic lines of the yacht’s exterior, but did not like the traditional interior styling that he considered old fashioned.

Art picture

Daan Balk told us, “Designers became involved in creating a full redesign of the interior. Because they asked for some changes in the general arrangement we had to make some modifications in the deckhouses as well. But it turned out to be a successful refit and the yacht is now performing very well in the charter market.“

A matter of class

Maintaining the classification in which the yacht was first built is another consideration that can, at times, lead to a major refit. The vast majority of superyachts are kept in class by their owners obtaining certificates issued by the classification society that have a five-year life span. During that period, the yacht is considered in class as long as any provisos noted on the previous certificates are complied with and an annual inspection is carried out. At the end of the five year period of class, a renewal survey must be carried out in order to restart the class certificate for the next five years.

Since the renewal survey has the scope of assigning a new five year period of class, it requires a special regulated inspection in order to assess the condition of the structures and the working machinery. During the annual survey, a surveyor will verify that the fire pump delivers the proper jet of water; in the renewal survey he will require an overhauling and perhaps refitting of that pump dependant on, for example, the condition of the impeller. The same is true for engines and other machinery.

Interior dining area of a superyacht

Surprising savings

When, for example superyacht Paraiso was due to undergo her 20 year class inspection survey, so great was the work required by Lloyds (the classification society involved) that it was deemed more economical to strip out the engine room entirely, replacing old engines with new in a refit that would take Spanish shipyard Astilleros de Mallorca two years to finish.

Not only was it cheaper to replace rather than rebuild – the new engines were cheaper to run, burning 30% less fuel and producing the same speed despite their lower power output. The resulting improvement in the yacht’s cruising range offers her owner a far greater choice of destinations world wide and from all points of view the rebuild has been considered a win-win scenario.

At the same time as the engine overhaul, the yacht received a new electrical system, new generators and changes to the superstructure to enable the fitting of a new Jacuzzi and better use of the exterior deck area. Riccardo Peirano, project manager at Astilleros de Mallorca takes up the story. “We called it a Class Survey refit but I guess when you consider the time we took and the scope of work we undertook, the term rebuild might seem more appropriate!"

Interior of a superyacht

“Over those two years the owner chose to renew all interior furniture, lighting and sanitary piping. He instructed the yard to replace with new all the hotel equipment; he upgraded the air conditioning system; and he wanted them to install a very big Jacuzzi on the main deck where a deck locker storage area once stood.

“I believe that a refit always offers a bigger challenge when compared to a new build, because you are working on a yacht that already exists. This might sound an obvious statement, but there are many times when it is easy to forget or better not to say during the process."

A project manager of a new build can start with a white canvas but I could not do that. I had to accommodate the engineering for the new power plant with total respect to the original layout and I had to redistribute the new equipment with a future ease of maintenance in view. While supervising the interior redesign I had to make sure we did not lose that original feeling for a Bannenberg design, which is what makes this yacht so very special.

Interior of a superyacht

“There were many funny stories along the way – not least the one that involved the Jacuzzi! The original was definitely much smaller than the final one and the funny thing was the almost daily growth in size of this new Jacuzzi. The most important thing is that the owner was very happy with the final result. He was especially pleased with the notable decrease in fuel consumption, vibration and other shipboard noises. He was delighted with his new super-sized Jacuzzi area and loves the feeling being almost part of the sea when he uses it, now that it has been repositioned in the bow at a much lower level than before.”


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