Sailing Forever team receives multiple questions from the clients on the boat maintenance process. So today we talk to mr. Tomo Mestrovic, working in the charter industry for over 20 years, base manager @ Sailing Forever charter and experienced sailor – he can give us some more insight.
Tomo, manage Sailing Forever’s fleet of 30 + boats and you witnessed the extraordinary charter market expansion in Croatia. Can You explain how you and your team approach the maintenance, how the clients should know they are booking a good and reliable boat for their holiday or regatta?
I am proud to mention that first we give clear information to all our clients and partners on what we do with the yachts within the maintenance process, what standards we adopt, what materials we are using and how it all finally reflects to the quality of their sailing. Such transparent information flow is ensured by working closely with our sales and marketing departments, – latest information is shared, such as original images, technical specifications, complete equipment and lists of new parts installed on the yacht.
This keeps us away from unwanted surprizes or misunderstanding, all expectations are met.
The second part to mention is a continuous investment in boats refresh and spare parts deployment. All of these changes will be promptly shown to clients. Such approach will guarantee that clients will not worry about their safety during their sailing vacation.
The third part is fast and efficient repairs if something happens during the trip. Our team comes fast, with our RIB’s or cars, making sure all cases are promptly resolved. In many cases we can talk to the clients over the phone and resolve the issues, if this can’t be done, we also have contacts around the region that can come and fix the problem.
But out main focus is always on precautionary maintenance – is the key to avoid expensive interventions that could upset the client. Therefore there are checklists that get followed with a prescribed maintenance schedule for all boats at the return to the base.
Tomo, what happens when the season is over, is it a period when your team can take a break?
It is essential to carry out a schedule of preventative and protective measures and preserve vessels from deteriorating over the winter. So, when the sailing season comes to its end, our off – season maintenance starts. And the whole team is involved again into the process of bringing the sail yacht to its desired condition.
Our technitians, electricians, divers and other experts in various yacht segments are also working closely with third – party companies and partners. (cleaning companies, sail maintenance partners, natural gas providers etc.) to ensure that also specific parts of our sail yachts ate properly maintained.
Next it comes to the list of replacement parts. Parts used for repairs should be original wherever possible in order to guarantee long term reliability. Usually we order original parts directly from companies who manufacture them.
The next part of our close priority is what we call the dry-dock & service zone.
Same as with the weekly regular repairs, the off-season maintenance begins with planning a schedule. Once the boat enters the service zone it has a precise plan when and what should be done next. Winter service itself is considered as a strategic step and investment, as if we address all possible issues during wintertime, the less work we will have during the summer season.
Can you briefly mention what are these winter works that we typically carry out to all the vessels you look after?
Sure, first we adapt the lists to suit the vessel requirements, identifying any works that need our attention. This ensures good management with parts, and a possibility for continuous improvement.
To start with the engine, – it is about oil and filter’s change, cables, levers, hoses, cooling system, impeller pump, engine belt, blower, engine controls, clasp, fuel supply system, etc.
We follow with the Dry dock service, – cleaning and sanding, grounting the hull, gelcoat repairs, batten maintenance, ventilation system, anchor and chains, antifouling layers, polishing & waxing, bowtruster and s-drive service.
Next step is exterior, – we take care of all sail and anchor winches, hatches, steering system, overhaul of all bowtruster parts, swimming platform, sprayhood, bimini, showers, anchor roller, fenders, railings, sockets and power cables, gas tanks, cockpit table. We remove all hull marks and scratches, yellow staining. Another time consuming task is teak, – we make sure it is kept in the best condition all year round.
Not to forget about the interior parts – heaters, water pumps, interior lights, chargers, batteries, all furnishing, plexiglass, freshwater bilge & shower pumps, sea cocks service, fans, locks, doorknobs, velcro straps, pillows, mirrors, fridges, windows and handles, sockets, USB ports, as well as all electric pumps, pipes service in the heads.
Important part of the process is the mast check and repairs, – sail mechanics, stoppers, ropes, deck inox, all lights, lazy bag, mast cables, pulleys, navigation lights.
Then it’s time for final cleaning and worn-out part replacement. We complete the outboard engine maintenance, changing the oil, cleaning sails, dinghies, bimini and sprayhood, cleaning all pumps, checking gas tanks, anchor ropes and strings, check lifebuoys, navigation instruments, helm wheels and safety equipment.
All above applies to every single boat from our fleet, with no exceptions. And we consider the work done only when the work is documented in respective tools and spreadsheets for further efficiency analysis and financial evaluation. Each yacht gets between xxx and xxx hours of maintenance work hours, depending on the size and specific model. No doubt, regular investments are also increasing boat value, this is something not to be neglected.
Are you also dealing with the warranty or insurance issues?
Yes, I am in direct contact with producers, dealers. If there is a warranty issue with the yacht, we will work directly with the manufacturer to have the correct part replaced, we will handle all warranty claims. If the concern is not with the boat manufacturer but rather with the specific part as chart plotter, refrigerator, sail, engine, etc., then we will work directly with those companies to ensure proper replacement or service. For example, if the plotter on the boat was built by Raymarine and for some reason a repair was needed, our team will work with Raymarine dealers’ team, replace the part and get it running in perfect working order.
Some of Sailing Forever boats are operated and maintained within company charter management program. With different programs and commercial values, is there a conflict of interests when it comes to the charter management boats?
We treat all the boats at the best possible maintenance level. Owners are investing in our company, – we want to keep our investors satisfied and keep their investments in excellent condition. We must also consider that the best maintenance is not only what our owners expect, but it is the standard that our charter guests expect as well. To hold our reputation as leading in the charter business we must stay on top and ensure that each boat is held to the quality level that is anticipated. Yacht is a valuable asset, and we want to ensure that it is being treated with most care – then it will deliver many years of smooth sailing.
Thank you Tomo! To sum up, could you define your team’s work approach in just few words, what is your teams key to achieve the best result?
All boats need to go out and come back with no issues. Continuity of preventative maintenance, good documentation, established procedures and a hint of flexibility – here is our formula for the best possible service!