Refits, repairs and modifications

When planning yard time, the finer details can often be overlooked.

Useful tips for yacht preparation 

It is important to plan yard period well in advance; early planning will always save the owner money. The yacht captain or manager should be aware of the class surveys that are due, but it is not unusual to find yachts with overdue surveys for the simple reason that they were forgotten about.

Often, yachts have planned the cosmetic work that will be carried out during the yard period, but have partly or totally omitted to take into account the classification surveys that are due. Overdue docking surveys mean yachts that have been dry-docked are often left no other option but to haul out again. 

Tariq Berdai, Lead Senior Surveyor at Lloyd's Register EMEA advises yacht captains and managers to always check the survey status when planning a dry dock, and, if in doubt, you can always contact your local LR office for advice on where you stand with surveys.

Yacht in yacht lift

For example, yacht intermediate surveys normally require sanitary tanks to be opened up for inspection, this can be done any time between the second and third annual survey, effectively with an 18-month window to present the tanks for inspection. It is always better to have this done while the yacht is in the yard instead of doing it in a marina, as it is always more convenient to have a tank cleaning team in a shipyard than to end up having to arrange for tank cleaning in a Mediterranean marina in the middle of the summer season.

Although dry-docks are generally very long compared to commercial ships dry-docks, planning is key to a cost effective yard period. Tariq outlines some useful steps to follow:

• Hold a pre-inspection meeting with your local LR office prior to the yard period to define the scope of the upcoming surveys, this is particularly important to plan the extent of the engine survey that can be costly depending on the amount of opening up.

• Advise LR as early as possible of any work planned that may require a formal design appraisal. This can take a few weeks, and if not planned in advance, you will find that the yacht may have already left the yard before the design review is complete. It is, of course, always best to take into consideration recommendations made at the design review prior to starting the job. You should also keep in mind that when doing a major alteration on a yacht, the rules that apply may not be the rules that applied at time of construction. For example, yachts fitting new stabiliser units having to comply with new regulations found that they have to fit water tight compartment around new stabiliser when these did not exist on the old units.

Hull of superyacht being spray painted in a dry dock

• Look at the latest amendments to international regulations to check if any modification has to be carried out on the yacht. For example, rail and track systems for certain flags.

For special surveys:

• When doing special surveys for yachts over 15 years of age, try to ascertain the amount of steel work repair before the dry dock. Very often the wasted areas are visible in the bilges or under air conditioning units, on tank tops or in the engine room. It is always better to make an assessment of the amount of steel replacement before coming into dry dock.

• Clear out all the bilges and tank tops so that the inspection on board can be effective. Expect to remove some insulation on deck heads and bulkheads. The difficulty on board a yacht is the access to and visibility of structure hidden behind furniture, insulation and teak.

• For the docking survey, prepare to have measurements taken on the tailshaft and rudder stock. Check the last reading of the cutlass bearing clearance as you may expect to have to replace the bearings. Previous readings will indicate if replacement of bearings will be needed.

Man working on the underside of a yacht in shipyard

For engine surveys:

• Plan for an electrician to be present to check tightness of electrical connections.

• All ship side valves will have to be removed for inspection, this includes underwater exhaust valves.

• Keep a record of all maintenance carried out; if service reports are thorough this may be helpful to decide on the extent of opening up the engine.

• Prior to completing the surveys in the yard, do not ask your surveyor to complete surveys too early; if you still have two dozen of contractors working on board and half of the doors still in the paint shed, it is not time for the annual survey.

For more information, visit Lloyd's Register.

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