Why yacht owners should consider West Nautical for operational management services

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Managing director, Geoff Moore, weighs in on why yacht owners should consider West Nautical for operational management services

Being different in a crowded market means we’ll be judged. For us and for our clients, that’s a good thing!

West Nautical is no traditional yacht brokerage. We’re a carefully assembled team of yachting specialists with a collective desire to reduce owner costs and ease their frustration with issues that distract them from their enjoyment of yachting. Pure and simple.

Managing director Geoff Moore describes what makes West Nautical different…

Does West Nautical get involved in new construction project management?

Absolutely, this is an area where West Nautical has been a lot more active in the past few years, and we have also overseen some major refits. Following a successful 2018 delivering several new build projects, we have more in build for 2019 delivery.

As a boutique company we intentionally avoid dealing with hundreds of clients. Instead, we work with a carefully selected number of yachts to make sure we use our in-house resources and expertise to deliver a high level of service, well beyond many other firms. Delivering a new yacht to the owner is always an enjoyable process, but behind the scenes our team puts in a huge amount of work to achieve the best possible results!

How has your time at sea influenced the success of West Nautical’s yacht management services?

While it seems like a long time ago now, my professional career started at sea and this influences everything I do – I’m a seafarer at heart! I moved ashore after working on board seven yachts of various owner nationalities, finally ending my career at sea as chief officer on board a 100m+ yacht.

With practical experience of commercial shipping on board cruise liners, ferries, bulk carriers and other cargo ships, I moved across into the superyacht sector in 2007 and served onboard yachts from 52m to 138m. My first experience of yachting was on board the 138m Lurssen ‘Rising Sun’ which is a truly spectacular and unique yacht. I have been lucky enough cruise the entire Mediterranean Sea extensively and have spent several winters in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, as well as cruising Greenland, the Pacific Islands and Baltic Sea. My time at sea was certainly varied but the highlight was an exceptional trip to South America and Antarctica.

This wide-ranging experience gave me a solid background to build on when I moved ashore, first working in the technical departments of a large shipping company, and then to running the yacht management division of a UK-based company before founding West Nautical in Europe. I have had the pleasure of working with several notable yachts as their manager, three of the most iconic being the 82m Oceanco ‘Alfa Nero’, the magnificent 69m Damen ‘Game Changer’, and the truly spectacular 80m ‘Talitha’

Do all of the yacht management team at West Nautical come from careers born at sea?

Not all of us, but the vast majority of our owner’s services team have worked at sea. Our head of yacht management was a highly successful yacht captain and our technical manager was a commercial shipping chief engineer before turning his hand to yachting in 2012.

Our team of yacht managers is made up of a navigation officer, a marina and port facility expert and a former yachting accountant who now has STCW qualifications so they can understand what yacht crew go through before joining the yacht.

We also have several former yacht chief stewardesses within the company, all of whom acknowledge that their on board experience is vital in their day-to-day work roles.

With a solid office understanding of on board activities born from seafaring pedigree, we have in-depth knowledge of the constraints and difficulty faced by captains and their crew, and this helps greatly when explaining many elements of yacht operations to owners and clients.

How has your team’s time at sea influenced West Nautical’s communication approach?

When working on board, I witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly side of vessel management! Not just in regard to the software and reporting requirements, but also in regard to the crucial communications between yacht and office. The style varied and at its worst poor communication can be perceived negatively by the crew, which can create a dangerous ‘us and them’ feeling.

This potentially negative relationship only causes issues, and so it was a deliberate tactic to set about changing this when we established West Nautical’s owner’s services department. We work side-by-side with the captain, thinking of them as the client with our team on the same level as them, providing assistance and support where needed and ensuring value is added for the owners.

More and more yacht owners are seeking yacht management services – why do you think that is?

The yachting industry is becoming more and more regulated and the ever-changing nature of the EU, tax, social security and crew employment situations can be confusing. In addition, elements of yacht ownership like temporary importation, charter regulations, and operational requirements and constraints are putting more pressure onto the owner’s office and their captain.

A management company can provide significant value. They can give support and additional power to the owner’s team onboard the yacht, especially during the busy summer period when the crew are focussed on delivering 5* service to the guests.

Financial and accounting services are one of the most important services we provide to our yacht owners, holding funds, logging invoices and checking the correct VAT allotment. We can take care of delivering cash onboard and supplying credit cards to the yacht for operational and charter APA purposes.

How do captains and crew benefit from West Nautical’s services?

Our team works alongside the captain and their team on board to assist them in their routine tasks, taking pressure off them and adding power to the administrative and regulatory, technical and financial workload of running the yacht.

Every yacht and owner are different, as is their setup and the amount of admin and planning done either onboard the yacht or ashore, and we are flexible to be able to work within the roles that the owner and their advisors wish to establish.

How important is the use of technology to support your role as yacht managers?

Technology is essential in every aspect of what we do and the service we provide. After researching some of the ‘off-the-shelf’ options available, we approached a software engineer to work alongside us in developing a bespoke yacht management platform.

Our system, Horizon, is paperless, cloud-based and has an on-board server. Accessible from any device, this system provides a safe and secure portal for every yacht’s ISM/ ISPS/MLC requirements. The system is ever evolving, and we have a maintenance manager module for the planning and recording of all maintenance being conducted onboard.