Megayacht Business Holds Great Promise

The Foss Seattle shipyard, which historically has focused on maintaining large fishing boats, tugs and other commercial vessels, is pushing its way into a new line of business: servicing megayachts.

The 173-foot megayacht Ice Bear, in drydock at Foss Shipyard in Seattle in the fall of 2012. Large yachts similar to the Ice Bear have been in the yard from time to time, but until now, Foss hasn’t targeted the business.

The target market includes multi-million-dollar craft between 80 and 250 feetin waterline length, too big for yacht yards that typically haul out smaller boats with slings on wheeled “travelifts.” Drydocks like the three at the Foss yard are ideal for the megayachts.

Additionally, the machinery, propulsion equipment and other systems on the big yachts are similar to that of commercial vessels that have been the shipyard’s stock in trade,

“Boats this large typically need more services than the smaller yards can provide,” said shipyard Director JonHie. “They need a full-service yard like we are. This kind of work is right up our alley.”

Although the Foss yard has performed maintenance work on large yachts from time to time in the past, it has never really targeted that business. But Hie said that the workboat and fishing industries are consolidating, so it’s a good time to go for it.

How will Foss penetrate the market?

“The business is largely word-of-mouth,” Hie said. “If you have a satisfied customer, they tell others. They tend to compare notes. A satisfied customer is the best advertisement you can have.”

The yard’s sales staff also will be making contacts with brokers who perform management services for megayacht owners, often including making arrangements for maintenance.

There are, of course, tasks the owners of megayachts require that Foss craftsmen cannot provide, such as installing or repairing luxurious upholstery or furniture. But those kinds of jobs can be handled by subcontractors.

And that brings up another point, the principal difference between work on commercial craft as opposed to megaychts.

“On a commercial vessel, they’re concerned more about function than form,” Hie said. “The owners of these large yachts want them to be functional, of course, but they also want a pretty boat. They don’t want to see any evidence that the vessel was in a shipyard.”