|Fit or Refit?|
Part 2: There is always a surprise or two that can run up the bill.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — February 2003
Of course, there is always a surprise or two that can run up the bill. One of Palmer Johnson's recently completed projects was more of a yacht completion than a refit, but the same rules apply, and the story of the vessel offers a lesson in the unexpected. In the spring of 2001, a 102-foot carbon-fiber motoryacht arrived via barge with most of her composite work finished, engines secured to beds, and a partially finished interior. Robinson says that after a survey and talks with the owner, everyone believed the boat to be almost "complete." Even with this encouraging report, Palmer Johnson estimated that she still needed about 30,000 man-hours to get to launch day.
As it turned out, the work actually took around three times that. Why? When the planned work began, the yard discovered that the engine beds had been poorly constructed and misaligned from the get-go. This required Palmer Johnson's crew to remove the engines through the cabin sole, reconstruct the engine beds, and repair what was found to be poor deck coring. Robinson says that some other systems were not installed properly, and when all was said and done, it took 16 months of full-time staff, including joiners, electricians, mechanics, painters, and carpenters, to complete the work. Naturally, this was reflected in the bill.
There will always be a certain amount of "discovery" during a refit project, says Lynn Morris, service manager for Rybovich Spencer. However, he adds that with proper planning on the part of the owner, many project hurdles can be avoided. "If the refit is going to include structural changes, the owner should employ the services of a naval architect," he recommends, noting that a thorough survey is also required. The naval architect helps develop a concrete plan of what work will be done. A well-developed, written plan also makes it possible to get more realistic bids from the refit yards you are considering having perform the work. Morris suggests getting bids from at least three or four yards because price variation can be significant. In fact, bids can vary as much $200,000 as a result of different interpretations of the owner's wants and needs, says Morris. He also cautions that excessive change orders from owners, which can result in a never-ending project scenario, will put the refit plan in flux. "And the longer the yacht is in the yard, the higher the cost," Morris adds.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.