Yacht Refit: Why You Should (Not) Do It!

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After making a quick turnaround to get his new acquisition back in shape, he found himself stuck in a shipyard for months as the new works piled up and problems arose. Was the extensive refit an unnecessary expense? If we could go back in time and give this owner some advice before he spent thousands in repairs and upgrades to have the boat refit, what would you say? My guess is that you’ll recommend not doing it.

Sounds familiar? How to avoid this from happening to you?

Know what you are getting yourself into

On the one hand, a refit can bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to an aged boat, making it as good as new. On the other hand, it can be a costly undertaking with no guarantee of success. So what should you do if you’re considering refitting? Let’s break it down.

Refits traditionally fall into two categories: owners who love their yachts and want to refresh the interiors or upgrade the systems, and buyers who find they can acquire a used boat and refurbish it for less than buying a new boat.

M/Y Falcon Lair Refit in 2015 – Photo; Boat International

What does the hierarchy look like in a yacht refit?

Owner – – >Yacht Captain – – >Project Manager – – > Surveyors (Flag/Class) – – > Crew – – > Shipyard staff – – >Contractors – – > Day workers

Note; that in most cases The Captain acts as a Project Manager but for larger-scale projects, it is wise to have a dedicated person for the task. It is critical to be able to get a quick response from your team in order to avoid unneeded downtime. Due to time constraints, daily presence is critical in assisting the yard with real-time decisions

The main consideration when considering yacht refitting is the cost, how to reduce the cost? With proper planning.


Proper planning equals proper results!

Do Your Research

Research starts by understanding all of the different services associated with refitting a yacht—everything from interior design and repair to exterior maintenance and modifications. You should also research new technologies or features that could potentially help improve your vessel’s performance or add convenience.

Private or Charter yacht?.If the yacht is intended for charter use, a more extensive yacht refit may be required in order to keep it in top condition and ensure that it is fit for purpose also from a Statuatory and Mandatory standpoint.

The ideal time to begin planning for a 5-year survey is half to 1 year in advance in order to secure the availability of the necessary space, and well before any Certificates expire. This is crucial if you’re considering hiring Flag and Class surveyors, for example, to turn a Private yacht into a Charter yacht. Private yachts typically don’t have as many safety regulations or construction requirements as Charter yachts. Going commercially can be challenging if the ship wasn’t designed for it to begin with.

Yacht Surveyor taking photos

Conduct a survey or thorough inspection of the vessel for the plan to work. What are the primary upgrading opportunities and pain points? Where could things go horribly wrong.

You can’t determine the condition of all areas which will undergo refit so be prepared for the unexpected. For example, striping away the bulkhead and finding out there is rotten wood or rust forming on the superstructure, faulty electrical wiring, and so on.

Be clear on the scope and the priority of work by separating required work items from those that do not take precedence, remember safety comes first.

Develop a Budget

The next step is determining how much money you are willing to spend on the project. Developing an accurate budget is key because it will help you stay organized throughout the entire process and ensure that everything stays within your means.

For tracking the budget, project management tools are useful for determining how much money has been spent to date versus the budget; however, real-world experience is required to see that 80 percent of the money has been spent and the job is only half done. Captain and shipyard project manager should meet on a regular basis from the start of the refit to verify and agree on the amount of work completed. The sooner the slippage can be identified, the sooner efforts to mitigate can begin.

Choosing the Right Yard

The most important decision you will make during the refit process is choosing the right yard for your job. You should ask questions like, “Do they specialize in my boat type?” and “What services do they provide?” When choosing a yard, it’s also important to consider how long they’ve been in business and what their reputation is among other yacht owners or industry professionals. Taking these steps ahead of time can help ensure that your refit is completed correctly and efficiently, with few surprises along the way.

Do not settle just on the price of the quote but research prior experiences and validate through industry experts, if the Captain can get any insight contact somebody who can, project manager or surveyor?

Refit Yard MB92 – Barcelona

Some popular Refit yards shipyards in Europe:














After determining which type of yard is best, the next step is to consider the other factors. Background history, facilities, reputation, and geography all play important roles here. It is critical to compare the benefits that one yard provides to others, and it is prudent to check references while considering the yard’s reputation and specialties. Staff attitude, problem-solving approach, and approach to future-proofing structures are all equally important.

Execution, during the refit

Expecting the unexpected is one of yacht refits principles, especially for older yachts when parts and materials are concerned where production has long since ceased. Priorities must be set when thinking about yacht refurbishment. The top of every priority list for a refit must be anything that hinders the yacht from operating smoothly and without technical issues.

Faulty Light Wiring

Don’t set a hard deadline but make clear your intentions and expectations to the Captain and all parties involved.

Establish a clear chain of command; the Captain/Project Manager for the Owner is essential in helping the yard make choices at the moment.

Occasionally you will have to deal with the logistics of shipyards and shipbuilding. Critical parts can be delayed or stopped in transport.

Remember, it is better to accomplish the larger project and enjoy your boat than to become focused on the new jacuzzi on the Bridge deck which requires structural refabricating, updating the Stability booklet, etc. So be prepared to give up on certain smaller projects for the sake of time and store them for the next yard period.


Congrats! Now it’s time to get back out on the high seas. But before you put your toes in the sand and sails in the wind, it’s important to take one last step—re-evaluating your yacht refit. It’s essential that you give your newly upgraded vessel another look and make sure it meets all of your expectations. Here’s how to do just that.

Project Manager and Captain

Evaluate Craftsmanship

Together with the Captain or person in charge, take a walk around your yacht, inspecting each area carefully for signs of defects or poor workmanship. Ascertain that all repairs have been completed correctly and that all new additions meet industry standards and are consistent with the original design concept. Consider whether there are any areas where the construction could be improved or if there are any changes you would like to see made in the future.

Functionality Check

After you’ve assessed the craftsmanship, it’s time to look at the functionality. The Captain and Crew will be testing each system on board, from the hydraulics and electrical systems to the navigation equipment and engines, to ensure they are functioning properly. Any issues with existing navigation systems or communications equipment that may require replacement or repair in the future. Finally, test other features such as lighting fixtures, stowage areas, galley equipment, ventilation/air conditioning units, bilge pumps, etc., along with safety devices such as life rafts and fire extinguishers to make sure they are in proper working order.

Document Everything

Finally, document everything related to your refit before setting sail again; including photos of newly installed features, copies of warranties for onboard systems and components, notes about potential future projects, contact information for contractors used during the refitting process…the list goes on! This will help ensure that you have all the necessary info should something go wrong while out at sea or when planning future upgrades/repairs down the road.


So is a Yacht Refit worth it?

Yes, but it requires careful planning and can include significant investment. Without expert knowledge or previous experience, it can turn into a never-ending ”money-pit”.

Consult yourself with industry experts and ask as many questions as possible.

Choose a suitable yard for the right budget.

Have a good relationship with the Captain and/or Project Manager, constant communication is essential for a successful refit.

Be engaged during the process, set deadlines but be prepared for the unexpected.

Re-evaluate and plan for the future.

If you found this article useful feel free to share it. If you need help or guidance for an upcoming refit contact us below.

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