|Sevenstar knows how to transport your yacht|
The majestic freighter carefully manoeuvres the narrow channel leading up to the southern part of stunningly beautiful Phang Nga Bay, northeast of Phuket. She drops anchor close to the shore to a back drop of dramatic limestone islands steeply rising from the lukewarm Andaman Sea. From her decks masts are reaching for the sky. Securely fastened sailing and power yachts are waiting to be unloaded by an eager crew.
For the casual onlooker it is a day in paradise. For Sevenstar Yacht Transport it's business as usual. Every year, more than half a dozen times yachts are loaded and discharged in Phuket and thousands more in other ports all around the globe. Among all those places Phuket is quite special and not only because of this awesome scenery. The local Sevenstar office here has succeeded in creating a level of customer service that is rarely to be found in the shipping industry. Says Marieke Derks, one of Sevenstar's two booking and handling agents for Thailand and Malaysia, "the shipping industry is not very transparent for non-insiders, like the average yacht owner. I see it as my challenge to give each individual customer insight in the whole process: from the contractual aspects and costs, via preparation and loading to the discharge in another country."SPECIALISTS
What makes this aspect of the marine industry so special? Let's have a short look at some of the aspects. Loading takes place through mainly two methods for shipping yachts mast-up. Lift-on-Liftoff or Float-on-Float off, depending on the type of yacht transport vessel.
Float-on-Float-off is offered on only a few purpose built transport vessels such as the Super Servant and Yacht Express operated by Dockwise Yacht Transport, a company recently incorporated by Sevenstar. These so called "FoFo vessels" primarily operate the busy seasonal routes between the Med and the Caribbean.
In Asia, the usual method is Lifton-Lift-off, or a LoLo. Yachts are transported mast-up on deck of cargo ships with two or three cranes on board to lift the yachts from the water in the loading port and back into the water in the port of discharge. The lifting of a yacht is very different from a container, which is a standardized metal "box". Every boat is different: length, beam, underwater ship, mast, superstructure, lateral point, etc. Lifting from a vessel is also quite different from lifting your yacht from a marina. Both the vessel and the yacht are positioned in the water (and thus never 100% stable). This is what the experts call a "dynamic lift", which is influenced by external factors like wind, waves and current.
Hence the lifting is a fully customized process supervised by specialists, called "loadmasters", that are flown-in for specifically for that. A diver is part of the loading team to position the lifting slings around the boat. The crane driver is following orders to put the boat on the deck in the exact place according to the loading plan where crew members will lash it securely and welders will weld the tailormade cradle to the deck. In short, its team work!WHY TRANSPORTING
Boat owners have many different reasons to have their boat transported. Some boats are simply not built for ocean crossings. For others it's the time aspect. Safety is mentioned by almost all opting for yacht transport. Many yacht owners also appreciate the additional benefit of avoiding long ocean crossings and being able to spend more time in a certain sailing area. Some owners are on a world cruise and want some time to relax before re-boarding in different cruising grounds. And, of course, if you buy a new boat build in, say Europe or America, you want to have that boat delivered to a port close to you.
Dave and Melinda Gunn, owners of cutter-rigged superyacht Sassoon, decided to ship their yacht rather than taking two seasons crossing the Atlantic twice. "We deferred the costs of preparing our yacht for such a rough voyage and we save on repairs we would have had to make during and after the crossing and we saved time as well. We listened around the yachtie circuit, read comments of fellow yachties on www.noonsite.com and decided to opt for Sevenstar Yacht Transport as we found so many positive comments."
Sevenstar's excellent service, as well as its prompt communication, were mentioned by Han and Carla van Dongen, owners of Breehorn sy Esperanza. "We found all Sevenstar staff very responsive and received prompt replies to our questions."WHY SHIPPING? MORE TIME FOR WHAT WE ENJOY MOST
Per Horn Rasmussen and Allan Anderson shipped their Dufour 425 sy Enjoy with Sevenstar last March. "Instead of a three-month rough, dangerous and potentially damaging rounding of the Cape we could sail an extra three months in Micronesia instead. At a leisurely cruising pace we visited virtually uninhabited, pristine islands and wonderful anchorages. We saved ourselves not only a lot of wear on sails and other equipment but also 12,000 nm of 'extra' sailing."DIFFERENT DYNAMICS
When you ship your boat you become part so to speak of the marine transport industry at large. Every day thousands of cargo ships roam the seven seas and this creates its own dynamics, which can be perceived as quite different from the yachting industry. For the boat owner, having his boat transported starts with the contract, which is largely a standardized marine transport contract validated for most laws in the world, and in accordance with maritime law. Usually this is perceived as quite remote from "consumer" contracts.
Another aspect of the different dynamics is that usually the transporting vessel, to and from Asia, also carries other cargo in order to make it economically feasible for clients to transport their boats and to have enough ballast to place yachts on deck. Having other cargo on board also means loading and unloading that is unrelated to the boats being transported from A to B. Sometimes, this can lead to rerouting the vessel to pick up cargo, which then results in a change of the date of discharge. Adverse weather can and will do the same.SHARK SCHEDULING
People tend to think that transporting a boat means having an appointment to load on a specific date at a specific time. Sevenstar wishes that that could be the case. Basically, it is not and there are many very valid reasons for it. Some were already mentioned earlier: weather conditions, harbour congestion, necessary re-routing, & complexities of the individual boats to be lifted. But there are also reasons that do not spring to mind immediately. Marieke Derks: "During loading operations in Florida of a Sevenstar vessel a boat was ready to be lifted on deck, divers went into the water to position the slings when the operations manager sounded an alarm. The divers went back immediately to their tender to be told that six bull sharks had started circling the vessel. Despite many efforts to chase them the sharks stubbornly decided to stay for some 24 hours before saying goodbye."REPUTATION
With so many variables influencing this business it's no wonder that most transport companies are at best just looking for picking up the odd yacht in order to make some extra money on the way without having the expertise or at worst, just take your deposit and run with it. Marieke Derks explains: "We get asked many questions as booking office are related to the bad apples in our industry. I feel very fortunate that I can point to the track record of our company, which clients can access in every nook and corner of the internet. Shipping your yacht is not always a walk in the park and even though delays, damage and mistakes sometimes occur with us, I am happy to have the confidence that Sevenstar always works with the clients to find solutions. We would not be where we are today if we didn't. We realize we are not just shipping a piece of cargo; sometimes we are transporting people's homes as well.
"Since transporting your yacht is not a cheap venture, we aim to make the costs transparent and include almost all costs in the transport price. Additional costs are made clear from the start. I am always glad that I can tell clients that transport of their yacht is insured by Pantaenius, our long-standing reputable insurance partner."FIXED SAILING SCHEDULES
Sevenstar Yacht Transport is one of the oldest and most reputable yacht transport companies in the world and a full daughter of the Spliethof Group, a large Dutch shipping company operating a fleet of over 100 cargo vessels world-wide. It is the only company that or four years has had fixed sailing schedules between Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean (six per year); as well as a Southeast Asia-USA route (2014 will be the first one and efforts are made to bring it to twice a year); and regular schedules are now being developed between Phuket and South Korea, Singapore and Australia.SAILING SCHEDULE FROM AND TO SE ASIA
Singapore/Phuket to the Med.
March, April and May 2014 (confirmed)
Phuket/Singapore to the USA
April 2014 (confirmed)
Phuket/Singapore to Pusan, Korea
April/May 2014 (subject to demand)
Med to Phuket/Singapore
September, October, November 2014
Korea to Singapore/Phuket
October 2014 (subject to demand)Add world map with routes For more information about these sailings, or about custom sailings, contact Sevenstar Yacht Transport Thailand & Malaysia Marieke Derks
Office: Phuket Yacht Haven Marina Mai Khao, Phuket, Thailand (please, call for appointments)
The agent for Thailand and Malaysia is a full service office that aims to make everything as uncomplicated as is possible. You can book your transport with them. They will guide you through every detail of the contract and insurance phase. They will constantly keep you up-to-date about the vessel's movements. They will guide you through the red tape. They will instruct you how to prepare your boat for the voyage. They will be with you and take care of you before and during the loading (and if possible even serve you lunch). Often they will organize a dinner before a scheduled sailing where they again will explain what to expect and answer any questions you may have.
In the next issue of SEA Yachting we will cover some more ground on this topic with more details of what goes on behind the scenes, an interview with a loadmaster and more.
For more information about these sailings, or about custom sailings, contact: Sevenstar Yacht Transport Thailand & MalaysiaMarieke Derks
Tel. +66 862 744 238
Office: Phuket Yacht Haven Marina
Mai Khao, Phuket, Thailand (please, call for appointments)