Yacht Interior Designers Guide: To Refit Or Not To Refit Part 2

To be in yachting, you've got to love it AND be a little crazy.

Murphy’s Law was written for yacht refits.  If it can break, crack, slip, fall off, tear or just plain wear out, it will on a yacht whether an owner has numerous refit experiences, or is planning his or her first.  Keeping this thought in mind throughout the yacht refit process will help to gain some perspective on the project.

Every little change on a yacht refit affects something else. You may want to move beds, but often beds are used for concealing many different things from structural stringers and floor line to HVAC, plumbing, wiring, and even fuel tanks.

87′ Outer Reef  Ti Punch Guest Stateroom Construction Photos

87′ Outer Reef Ti Punch Guest Stateroom Completed Photo

87′ Outer Reef  Ti Punch VIP Stateroom Construction Photos

87′ Outer Reef  Ti Punch VIP Stateroom Completed Photo

As mentioned in Part 1 of “Yacht Interior Designers Guide: To Refit Or Not To Refit”, it is what you don’t see that can cause unexpected budgetary increases and time delays.

87′ Outer Reef Ti Punch Main Salon Construction Photo

87′ Outer Reef Ti Punch Main Salon Completed Photo

*Notice how the loose sofa is built on top of the step in the floor.

Fuel Tank under Master Stateroom Bed on an Ocean Alexander Yacht

“Even the best-laid plans turn to hell when exposed to reality” -Michael Anthony, Author

I often wish I had a crystal ball to predict all the scenarios one might encounter during a yacht refit;  however, just as no two fingerprints or snowflakes are alike, the same is true for yacht refits! Remember, the better the plan is, the more successful the refit will be.

Something as simple as replacing wall material can be a major project when it is not known how the material was originally installed, how difficult it will be to remove or just how much prep work will be involved.  On the refit we did for the 97’ Hargrave Forever Young, the wall material throughout the entire yacht was pulling away from the walls giving it a bubbled look.

There was no way to know until we started removing the wall panels how much labor would be involved. In some areas the panels were able to be removed in one piece and in others the panels came apart in many pieces pulling off parts of the wall along with them.  The walls had to be patched and door skin applied and sanded in the areas where wall paper would be applied. In the areas where upholstered panels would be reapplied, the walls had to be patched and sanded and panels repaired if necessary, upholstered and re-installed.

97' Hargrave Pilot House

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Pilot House Before

97' Hargrave Pilot House

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Pilot House After

97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Stair Before, During and After

97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Master Stateroom Before

97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Master Stateroom During

97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Master Stateroom After

97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Dining Before

97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Dining During

97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Dining During

Changing out headliner can make one of the biggest impacts because it is the largest surface area. It can brighten up the room and give reflection.  While changing headliner, it is a good time to also change lighting and wiring for audio visual. Plan on changing all of the headliner in an entire room and not just a portion of the room because the color and texture of the headliner will be impossible to match as the color will have changed due to age and sunlight damage.  If furniture that touches the ceiling is being removed, the new furniture must be designed with the same ceiling footprint as the original furniture or furniture with a new soffit larger than the footprint of the original furniture can be designed to avoid changing the headliner if that is not in the plan.

Also on the 97’ Hargrave Forever Young, the Dining Salon forward cabinet was removed, and the wall was re-veneered and finished to match the existing cabinetry.  All of the overhead lighting was changed to LED; however, changing the headliner was not in the budget so it was necessary for us to create a soffit above the new forward cabinet where the old was removed in an effort to save the headliner.

97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Dining After

This Owner-driven yacht interior design refit was to refresh our Client’s “new” yacht so he and his family would enjoy spending time aboard and pursue their passion of yachting.  In addition to family-driven requirements, the owner placed limits on the interior refit budget. Even when budget is of primary consideration, an Owner’s objectives can be achieved through effective collaboration and a solid scope of service established at the outset of a refit project.

97' Hargrave
97' Hargrave

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Main Salon Before

97′ Hargrave Forever Young Main Salon After

On the refit of the 142’ Trinity Chevy Toy,  the original plan was a fairly minor refit to include refinishing of wood and replacement of stone counters and floors, soft goods such as bedding, upholstery, window treatments, carpet, wall coverings, headliner, loose furniture, art and accessories.

142′ Trinity Chevy Toy Main Salon Before

In the process of removing the carpet and sound barrier padding, we found mold and mildew on the underside of the padding at each of the seams of the floorboards below. The entire Main Salon floor was rotting from an AC leak that had gone undetected.  The leak came from above, through the walls and under the built in cabinetry and floor.

The carpet, padding and the yacht’s floating floor system that consisted of a plywood subfloor, “damped” plywood made with layers of rubber sandwiched between the plys of wood,  plywood strips to level and attach the next layer, a foam material used for vibration damping properties and the “damping paste” had to all be removed down to the bare aluminum deck and rebuilt with new materials. The wood baseboards and some cabinetry had to be replaced as well as the entire HVAC system. Thanks to an experienced team and a well designed and choreographed plan of action, we were able to move quickly through this unexpected setback and create the elegant and transitional updated interior that the owner desired.

142′ Trinity Chevy Toy Main Salon Completed Photo

A yacht refit is always larger than you plan for it to be and will always evolve.

Purchasing a yacht with refit in mind requires a different set of criteria than building a new yacht or purchasing a “like new” brokerage yacht for immediate use.  In some cases, a yacht that seems undesirable as-is can become a wonderful value as a yacht refit prospect.

Even in what appears to be the most simple and straightforward project, there is no way to know for sure if the type of issues described above will arise, but as talked about in Part 1 of “Yacht Interior Designers Guide: To Refit Or Not To Refit”, you can benefit from the knowledge of an experienced team who has no doubt already encountered similar problems and worked out the solutions. The key to successfully refitting a yacht is the effective planning and correct execution of the plan.

Tips for effective planning and correct execution of the refit plan...

Once a realistic budget is determined and how it will be allotted, plan accordingly and engage the appropriate professionals who can ensure that the refit does not expand beyond control. Prior to the start, the owner-designer-captain-shipyard team must be certain of the desired end result. A well defined, clear and detailed project scope will allow for precise specifications to each of the various contractors involved which is necessary to obtain comprehensive quotes. What appears to be a lower priced quote may very well just not be inclusive due to a lack of information.

Just as every little change on a yacht refit will affect something else, each contractor’s work affects another’s.  Weekly on board meetings with all of the contractors involved, as a group, will uncover possible bottlenecks in the process early on that can affect the budget or schedule. Identifying these obstacles will allow for swift reorganization, minimizing lost time.

“Compromise” should be an accepted word in the yacht refit vocabulary.

An owner should be aware of budget and only invest what is redeemable upon resale, unless he plans to keep the refitted yacht for a long period of time.  Every yacht has a maximum value. Some yachts may require too much to bring them up to the owners expectations, both mechanically and aesthetically and perhaps may not be the right yacht to purchase in the first place. However, with the ample resale market we have now there are many options from which to choose!

Are you ready for a refit?

Let us know when you would like to meet to discuss possible options for you or your client!

About the Author

About the Author

Destry Darr Pethtel is an award-winning interior designer based in Florida. Her designs have been featured in several luxury yacht publications such as Showboats, Boat International, Yachts International, Yachting, Luxe Magazine to name just a few! Read More About Destry >>

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