A beginner’s guide to yacht logistics

Offered By Blue Water Shipping

In the busy and ever-developing global yachting world, there are many different stakeholders from different industries with highly visible involvement. These include ports and marinas, transport companies, hotels, experiences, food suppliers etc.

However, there are also several other stakeholders who operate behind the scenes, for example the elaborate logistics and supply chain, which is essential for a smooth operation. The supply chain is usually not noticeable when it is efficient and reliable.

What is yacht logistics?

To keep an experience- and destination-based industry running, well-managed supply chains must be established and be able to accommodate the high demands and needs of the yachts. It is often a matter of getting the right spare parts, provisions and leisure equipment delivered to the yachts at the right time, in the right location, and at the right price.

There are three sub-categories to yacht logistics:

  • Deliveries between suppliers and yachts (shipping and transport)
  • Local logistics handling (direct service to the yachts on site and local sourcing)
  • Shipyard and drydock logistics (coordination with vendors and on-site services)

In a dynamic industry, the requirements are constantly changing, and it is crucial to find solutions that meet the customers’ needs, and at the same time have the right balance between cost, time and quality.

Shipping and transport

Supplying yachts with provisions, equipment, spare parts and ad hoc specialty items can be very challenging as itineraries often change with short notice. It requires meticulous attention to detail, a well-managed setup with reliable partners, experienced freight forwarders, and shipping professionals.

There are several important links in supply chains, but one of the more dominant ones is the role of the freight forwarder, who coordinates the transport and makes sure that all is in place for deliveries to be carried out successfully. Several freight forwarders have specialised and experienced employees and departments, specifically servicing the yacht industry.

The value of a good freight forwarder lies with these experienced employees and their ability to optimise transport and avoid delays due to their in-depth knowledge of the industry's requirements. With trusted networks of local, regional, and global sub-suppliers, it is possible to create tailor-made solutions that meet, and hopefully exceed, the demands.

Before choosing which freight forwarder to use, the following should be assessed:

  • Geographical coverage (global, regional or local)
  • Types of services provided (trucking, sea, air, rail, local handling etc.)
  • Network of sub-suppliers
  • Price and quality of service
  • Warehouses and distribution centres
  • Ability to think outside the box and be able to adapt to changes on a daily basis

Local logistics handling

For local handling, sourcing and coordination, the yacht agents in the ports play a pivotal role, with their local and regional knowledge, experience and skills. While some supplies for yachts are booked well in advance, there is often a need for additional local sourcing of food items, equipment and spare parts. Choosing the right local partner can make yacht calls run as close to seamless as possible, and in general, make life easier for everyone on board.

The local agents who also have experienced logistics colleagues will have a broad local network of suppliers and be experts in the customs and veterinarian procedures in their area. They have reliable truck drivers, forklift operators, manufacturers etc. and can sometimes make the impossible possible.

Shipyard and dry dock logistics

Another important area of service is for the newbuild yards and drydocks, where all deliveries, landings and all other services must take place in the right order, to ensure the overall timeline is kept without delays.

There are many different stakeholders and suppliers involved in these larger projects, so it takes a great deal of preparation to make all pieces of the puzzle come together. Some logistics companies are specialised in this service and have employees based near the shipyards, and some have agile task forces with employees that can be deployed to certain locations.

The future of yacht logistics

Sustainability is increasingly becoming a focus area for yachts and destinations as well as shipping and logistics companies all over the world. Terms like sustainable tourism and destination preservation requires that all parts of the value and supply chains comply to new standards, where qualities other than price are prioritised. For the transport and logistics providers, this will mean a development in new types of fuel, local adaptions like shore power for ships, and clear and written HSSEQ initiatives in place.

In recent years, it has become a growing trend to procure local and regional supplies and specialities, instead of sourcing them centrally from other parts of the world. Besides adding to a more authentic experience, it is also good for the environment and gives valuable support to the local communities, which is especially important in the more remote destinations. It does, however, also require a strong and flexible setup by the logistics providers, often in collaboration with the local yacht agents.

Everyone, but in particular the larger manufacturers and suppliers to the yacht industry as well as the larger yacht management companies, could become more agile and benefit from developing stronger partnerships with selected and trusted logistics providers. Outsourcing certain tasks on long-term agreements can lead to reduced administration and costs, and also reduce the financial exposure in case of unexpected events that affect the industry.

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