FRY Associates, Inc. (FRYCO)
PLANNING - THE DISCIPLINE OF A SUCCESSFUL
Custom designed yachts are created for specific purposes
such as day yachting or worldwide cruising. Under ideal
circumstances, the naval architect is given a "fixed set of
requirements and limitations" along with a reasonable budget
and is allowed the necessary time to generate a design ideally
suited for the purpose. Ideal circumstances only exist in
movies and fairy tales. Most often the client wants to know the
program cost before preliminary requirements are established
and expects the design process to take only a few days.
The creation of a MegaYacht is more complicated than most
other types of boats. A MegaYacht is a working sculpture, a
thing of beauty, a public statement, a home away from home, a
pleasure to cruise, a place to entertain and, more often than
not, a Charter Yacht. With these constraints, the naval
architect must be totally involved in the design process. He
must understand the priority of the owner's requirements and
have the freedom to integrate them in an original custom design
keeping within the state of the art. The challenge of the naval
architect is to understand the environment and to be innovative
without violating the scientific boundaries.
Undertaking the interface of all the needs, wants and
desires of the owner and his family/friends with the practical
considerations of crew requirements and the principles of
design requires strict discipline from all involved. The owner
must clearly state his requirements and if in doubt say so, and
ask for options.
The naval architect creates the molded shape of the
exterior, giving the yacht a dynamic visual image appropriate
for her owner, size and arena of operation. He determines the
hull design, speed/powering, comfort and stability, as well as
the interior arrangement of machinery and compartments and the
designs for mechanical and electrical systems.
Depending on the size of the yacht, the owner may commission
an interior designer to detail the quarters, plan furnishings,
develop lighting, choose colors, fabrics and decoration, or all
these chores may be carried out by the naval architect, or the
owner. Usually projects over 30m (100’) will have an interior
designer (hopefully one with yacht experience).
We have had clients who required two dozen or more
preliminary designs and have spent over two years deciding
exactly what they want, while others were quite pleased to
proceed, with minor modifications, to the first preliminary
design. This has nothing to do with experience, nor does it
indicate lack of ability or interest. Every client is different
and each has unique requirements, some prefer to leave most
decisions to the naval architect and be involved only in the
basic space planning, while others want to be involved in every
detail. With good communication, either way is okay, providing
that the naval architect is allowed the necessary time to
detail the design and the client takes the time to study and
approve the design before construction is started.
It is not important how long it takes the owner to be
satisfied with the design. It is paramount to the rest of the
process that he be committed to his decision so all possible
changes are made on the drawing board and not in the shipyard.
Starting construction without complete design reduces the
options for working out details, increases the probability of
mistakes, increases the construction time and will inevitably
blow the budget or force unnecessary compromises to maintain
To make the creation of your dream a pleasant experience
instead of a nightmare, there are several simple rules to
follow. In fact, they are so simple that they are often thought
unnecessary and ignored. The justifiably proud owner of the
160' MegaYacht "Eviva", standing on the bow at her christening,
declared: "Discipline is worth the investment." That phrase
sums up the attitude that must be applied to MegaYacht design
and construction, if one expects the best return for the
investment of time and money.
The following applies to the design and construction of a
contemporary MegaYacht whether built of steel, aluminum or
composite. If you are considering pushing the state of the art
then add to the below as required to properly plan, engineer
(and test if necessary) that part of the program that is not
proven. Unless cost is no object, one should not undertake to
design and build a MegaYacht on a tight schedule. If the owner
wants a boat quickly he has two good options, buy an existing
vessel or accept refit of an existing vessel.
Rule 1. Choose your naval architect
You will be working together for more than two years. Be
sure he listens and understands what you want; after all he is
designing the yacht for you, not for himself. At the same time
the naval architect must consider all the latest MSA and USCG
rules that will affect construction, future use and/or resale
of the yacht.
Rule 2. Commit to discipline in planning and
Always be sure someone on your team is planning the work and
scheduling the execution. Otherwise, the work will be late or
not completed to first-class standards. Remember to be sure
that everyone has input to the planning and schedule; that way
they share the commitment to accomplish the goals.
Rule 3. Require at least three preliminary designs
and multiple choices for other decisions.
By giving yourself alternatives you are forced to compare
the attributes of each. More often than not, you will find that
by combining several ideas the result will be the best plan for
Rule 4. Specify every detail that is important to
you and/or your designer.
If everything is specified, there are no surprises and all
the interface requirements and supporting systems can be
considered well in advance. The contract specifications can be
drafted to include everything and thereby avoid delays and
unexpected expense during construction.
Rule 5. Hire an Interior Designer before you
contract with a Builder.
If your project is one where you feel you want an interior
designer or the naval architect suggests you need an interior
designer, then the interior designer should be retained before
the building contract is priced signed. The interior designer
needs time to study your requirements, make suggestions/changes
and to give input to the contract specifications. The time is
well spent and will save you changes, cost and delay, not to
mention the fact that the interior designer will have the
freedom to give you choices without a production force waiting
for the answer before they can proceed with the job.
Rule 6. Choose your MegaYacht Builder with
This is one case where "cheapest is seldom the best". A
large percentage of the world's shipyards are well run,
properly financed and staffed with experienced personnel; the
fact is, there is no shortage of well qualified, competitive
yards. Beware of the deal that is too good to be true; many a
bargain hunting buyer has ended up owning the shipyard or
suffering substantial loss.
Rule 7. Have your Designer(s) evaluate the building
If a naval architect and interior designer are both
involved, they should meet, compare notes and make joint or
parallel reports to the owner. It is too easy for the owner to
get caught up in the excitement of the moment and sign a
contract that is loaded with potential extras.
Rule 8. Do not accept the Builder's construction
contract and do not let your corporate or family attorney kill
a good deal.
When you sign a MegaYacht construction contract, you must
consider all the good things you want and all the bad things
that can happen to you for the next two or three years and then
add one year for warranty beyond delivery. This adds up to a
four year plus commitment and lots can happen in three years.
The contract must protect all parties: with the international
nature of yacht building, the construction contract is an
important document and demands full consideration. Start with
the builder's proposed contract and let a practical attorney
re-draft only those parts that need changes to protect you. An
experienced naval architect has exposure to contracts all
around the world and can be a good source of information for
your attorney when he is preparing the construction contract
Rule 9. Trust, but verify your progress
Require photos and documentation of work to be properly
completed. If you have any doubts, demand proof of vendor
payments on those items for which you have paid the builder.
The naval architect or the classification society should
certify the builder's invoice for payment. Requiring copies of
paid invoices is not unusual.
Rule 10. Inspect work under construction on a
Depending on your expertise, physical location of the
building yard, experience and reputation of the builder and the
complexity of the MegaYacht, the degree of inspection required
will vary substantially. The owner, if he has the time and
experience, is the best inspector. He knows what he wants and
what he is willing to give up in a compromise. Unfortunately,
most owners lack the time to carry out such routine matters and
they delegate inspection to others. The options are numerous
and careful consideration is needed to select the right
combination for each project. I suggest you discuss this in
detail with your chosen naval architect before delegating your
Rule 11. Do not depend on a Classification Society
for all inspection.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking that the
classification surveyor is looking after all of your interests.
His role of inspection is very narrowly defined by the society
rules. The societies are concerned with structure and vital
systems, the yacht fit and finish is not their concern. This is
a whole other subject, and if requested the author has an
article about classification; "What it is and what it is not".
Above all else remember the yard is paying the classifications
invoices and most inspectors know who is signing their pay
Rule 12. Let your NA/ID conduct sea trials and
accept the yacht when they are satisfied.
Most builders and often owners are too interested in getting
the yacht out of the yard and not interested in correcting
details before she is put into service. Please save yourself a
lot of grief and time messing with warranty by letting your
professionals sea trial your MegaYacht and, when they are
satisfied, it is time to sail.
If you and your team will keep these tips in mind when
setting up your
design and building program, you should have a lot more
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