Cost of safety equipment on yachts
by Michael & Frances Howorth
On-shore safety requirements
Regulations imposed by the IMO introducing International Safety Management (ISM) to the world of shipping formalised the good practices already observed by many captains. Its principle of placing a Designated Person Ashore (DPA) was to prove to be the green light to many yacht brokers who saw an opportunity to branch out from merely selling the boat to managing it throughout its ownership.
The policy has proved to be a goldmine and all in the name of safety. Fees for safety management now run into tens of thousands of pounds a year, with many yachts reporting fees of more than £120,000 per annum.
The increase standards created by the introduction of the ISM, and to a lesser extent International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), have fostered a new industry in large yachting, that of support from ashore. Several new companies have cropped up, many started by former yacht captains. All offer support to owners that is frequently more cost effective than that offered by the large brokerage houses. Among these is Captain Chris Andreason, whose new venture, International Superyacht Management Ltd (ISM Ltd), is run in partnership with Captain Paul Cook.
Former MCA and Cayman Island flag surveyor Roger Emtage teamed up with colleagues to create Shoreside Support, whose fees seldom exceed £60,000 per annum for a full service. Captain Paul Boyce, a consultant with the group, quotes figures of around £5,000 to draft a customised ISM manual for a yacht, a fee almost half of that charged elsewhere. Nick Hill and Niall Robinson created their management house Hill Robinson in Antibes, vowing never to get involved in yacht sales. Their policy seems to have paid off, given that they have a fleet of over 20 yachts under contract.
Derek Smith, the safety and quality manager for Fraser Yachts, thinks it is ridiculous to talk in terms of the cost of safety, saying: ‘Safety is not a cost, it is an investment.’ He points out that 20 years ago most cars did not have seat belts, now they are an in-built cost when buying modern cars and we would refuse to buy a car if they were not fitted.
Smith believes safety is ‘a negative concept’, saying: ‘You have no idea how safe something really is until something goes wrong, and then you can only point to costs of not having safety.’ True enough, when courts around the world can award millions in damages to parties injured due to inadequate safety.
Maritime accident investigations
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), not part of the MCA, investigates and issues formal reports, if deemed necessary, following any accident aboard or involving a UK vessel or one that occurs in UK waters.
Vessels over 13.7m must report accidents to the Marine Accident Prevention Branch as soon as possible. It cannot be over-emphasised how important it is for safety at sea and the prevention of disaster. But, equally, it is amazing how often these reports reflect on how, by spending a little extra on safety in the first place, an accident might well have been prevented.
It is easy to spend money on safety equipment, but without the commitment to use it wisely and keep it properly maintained, it can indeed be a waste of money.