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What does the commissioning of a Yacht mean

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

This article is about the importance, the procedure and the steps how a commissioning of a yacht is performed

The commissioning of a (commercial) pleasure vessel is done before the yacht is transferred to the owner. It is a very important phase when buying a yacht. Once, as a future owner you have signed off the commissioning report, the yacht is yours. At that moment, the warranty comes into force or, in case of a used yacht, it will become extremely difficult to claim eventual (hidden) failures in a later stage.

Quite often, as a buyer of new yacht, you assume the boat is in perfect condition with no failures. You spent a lot of money, so you assume you will have a worry free time after you bought a new yacht. On the contrary. New yachts can have quite some important failures which you want to be solved before the yacht becomes yours. As a yacht is a complex piece of equipment which will be put under severe tests and stresses during its lifetime, you want to be sure you get the value for your money and not all kind of problems due to bad manufacturing or bad quality control.

What are the different steps when commissioning a yacht

  • We Check all of the paperwork. When buying a yacht, new or used, all equipment manuals, certifications and schemes of the yacht need to be on board and completed for warranty purpose. Also the final invoice, eventual export documents and VAT declaration.This does not include the registration documents as this is the responsibility of the owner.

  • Functional tests of all equipment on board. From showers and sea cocks to navigation instruments, air-conditioning, watermaker, generator, battery inverters, engine(s), steering system, mast, rigging, sails etc.

  • Structural checks: damage on gel coat, paint, tightness of hatches, water intrusion etc.

  • The sea-trials: The yacht is taken out to the open water and all checks are done regarding the performance of the vessel at sea.

  • For Motor Yachts: steering behavior and engine performance, including checks on oil pressure, engine temperature, vibrations, trimming, vibrations, prop performance etc.

  • For Sailing Yachts: full sailing performance including reefing, gennaker and spinnaker sails.

  • General: navigation lights, plotter, AIS, VHF, Anchor, commissioning of the watermaker, performance of the toilets, looking for water leaks, function of grey and black water tanks etc.

When has been assigned to do a yacht commissioning, we go through all details of your new ship. See above pictures. In case of a new vessel, we go through our findings with the people from the yard and explain the situation. As they are not always comfortable with the outcome, we talk to them in a very polite but convincing way in order for them to accept the need for correction and to respect the suggest time to correct. On the corrected items, a new audit will be performed until full satisfaction of the client the problems are solved.

For a used yacht, the commissioning is often part of the negotiation process. The previous owner generally does not want to make the spending in order to correct te failures. Having as a new owner a good understanding about the cost to correct these failures brings you in a better negotiation position.

What is the position of a marine surveyor in this context??

A marine surveyor will be involved when buying a second hand yacht and at the final end of the purchase process. This person is normally invited AFTER the NEGOTIATION process in order to detect eventual structural problems or failures on the yacht. is involved BEFORE or DURING the NEGOTIATION process. In most instances, we will already assess the status of the vessel and will advise the interested owner to proceed with the purchase or not. Our assessment of the yacht will bring you in a better position to negotiate the correct price for your new vessel.

In most cases, yachts are sold through yacht brokers. Their only interest is to realize a quick sale for their own benefit. Never accept a surveyor advised by the broker. We have a good knowledge of independent surveyors who will report to you in a honest and professional way. But again, a surveyor is the last step in the purchase process and his only duty is to find out if there are any structural failures on the vessel. They will mainly investigate the following items:

- Keel attachment and keel bolts (sailing yacht)

- Rudder bearings and attachments.

- Power train issues (bearings, alignments)

- Gel Coat issues (thickness, water content, osmose)

- Engine wear and tear or structural problems

- Electric safety

How much time is needed in order to perform a full yacht commissioning?

The type of yacht and the equipment on board will determine how much time will be needed to perform a commissioning. The commissioning of a new yacht will go faster than a big old yacht after a refit. Normally a commissioning is between one and two days.

As a conclusion, the findings of and the findings of the surveyor will give you a complete picture of the price, value and performance of the used yacht.

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