West Nautical Yacht Management – In Focus

West Nautical – Interview with Geoff Moore

Yacht Management is a serious business. 24/7 support must be delivered across all facets of a superyacht’s running, from crew salaries to how the vessel is maintained. With yacht size and sophistication only increasing, management must constantly evolve. We speak to Geoff Moore, Managing Director at West Nautical, about what good management looks like today and tomorrow.

‘How many people are in the West Nautical team? What are their backgrounds?’

‘There are 27 members in our global team, of which 14 are part of the core yacht management division. The senior members of this team have all worked at sea and are marine qualified, which helps us to understand the onboard procedures needed for the safe and efficient running of yachts of all sizes. Our personnel all have the basic STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) seafarer qualifications, with manyholding higher levels of certification including those of Captains and Chief Engineers, as well as other specific marine courses, adding
value to our services to clients and captains alike. As a regulated and flag registry compliant yacht management company, we have detailed procedures that allow us, as a company, and the yachts we manage to follow the regulations set by the International Safety Maritime (ISM) Code, International Ship and Port Securitym (ISPS) Code
and Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

To maintain our compliance, we also have four members of our senior management team who are certified Designated Persons Ashore (DPA), who is legally responsible for the safety on board the yacht as well as certified Company Security Officers (CSO), who are responsible for security on board.

These team members have been trained internally and externally to the highest levels of auditing and inspection competence.

In addition to these marine-specific credentials, we have members of the team who have various degrees, from law to marine operations, finance, and Human Resources. Modern yacht management requires a very wide range of skills
to support it properly and West Nautical possesses a highly qualified and competent team to deliver a complete service.’

‘How often does a yacht Owner change yacht management company and when should they consider a change?’

‘The best time to change a management company is during the ‘off-season when the Owner is less likely to be using the yacht. This is usually in the Spring or Autumn, before or after the main cruising season. This allows for the yacht to be static in port and allows time for the new yacht management company to visit the yacht, conduct surveys and audits on board, and provides the crew with time to familiarise themselves with the new procedures and protocols that are being implemented onboard.

At West Nautical we do whatever we can to reduce any costs and inconveniences to the Owner, Captain and crew during this process. Our goal is to establish a new, long-lasting relationship with the yacht and get off to the best
possible start.’

‘Within newbuild management, have there been any interesting technological developments in sustainability?’

‘We are seeing a lot of yacht Owners and shipyards driving towards greater efficiency and sustainability for the future, trying to reduce the environmental and financial impact of the yacht. The maritime industry is always going to be behind the automotive industry, simply because there is less production and yachts are far larger and more complex. But there is a real move towards hybrid power and fewer emissions. New technologies from other industries are often adopted and used on yachts after they have proven to be successful. One such innovation is the ever-improving
batteries that are regularly available, and with more and more hybrid and full-battery powered vehicles, this technology is now moving into the yachting industry and can be easily retrofitted. This technology differs in many ways from the traditional diesel-only powered vessels fitted with large main engines, used only for propulsion and separate generators feeding the hotel load, so it is an improvement in technology for both efficiency and reducing environmental impact with reduced emissions, as well as physically taking up less space in the engine room, meaning
more space can be made available for the guest accommodation or additional facilities.’

‘When should future yacht Owners start thinking about yacht management?’

‘The main purpose of yacht management services is to reduce the workload of the Owner, deliver clarity and structure to the running of a yacht, transparency on costs and provide quality technical services based on experience and industry best practice. Therefore, an owner would be well placed by considering management services before a yacht has been purchased.

Sales brokers are not managers, and managers are not brokers. You do not expect the person selling you your car to be the same person who changes the brakes and tyres, and so why expect that a yacht broker knows the particulars of yacht operations and costs?

Some brokers, of course, know more about management than others, but generally, their mission is to sell the yacht. There is the possibility of a conflict of interest when the customer asks for a budget of the yacht they are considering,
would a broker provide them with a realistic budget that would run the risk of the customer backing out of the sale?

This is a very real issue we have seen many times, and it is something we avoid at West Nautical as we are a broker-free company offering Owners’ services. We have Client Managers who work with customers of all levels, whether they are looking to charter, looking to purchase, already own a yacht or are looking for management services. Yacht management is not purely about finances, but it certainly is a major part of the service to give owners some assurance that they are not spending more than they should be. West Nautical takes enormous pride in being fully transparent
with yacht owners.’

‘What advice would you give to yacht Owners taking into account the world we now live in?’

‘We have always lived in an ever-changing world, and work within a constantly evolving industry. No one would have predicted the effect that Covid 19 would have had on the globe 12-months ago. We have had to adapt to it with new safety procedures, but the underlying purpose of a yacht and our work is to provide a safe and secure holiday to the owner and their guests. We could not do what cruise ships have done and simply stop all yachts from accepting guests on board, we have had to adapt to make them ready to be used.

So, what will the future bring? Nobody knows the answer to that, the important thing is to be ready to adapt and ensure our clients are future-proofed. For instance, there are some known changes to the charter tax rates, more environmental protocols being enforced, and some additional security measures being enforced on large commercial
yachts with additional protection onboard against potential cybercrime, which is becoming more of a real threat.

If you’re asking me what can owners do to ensure they stay aware of all the future changes to legislation, fiscal adjustments and prepare for any unpredicted national or global pandemics? I would have to say, simply, work with West Nautical as your yacht managers!’

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