Here are some factors to consider when faced with this age-old quandary on modern-day yachts.
During refits and shipyard periods, troublesome equipment demands attention. When is it time to stop repairing and fully replace the system? This decision can have significant financial implications and can impact the overall performance and safety of our vessel.
When it comes to repairing yacht equipment, there are several factors to consider. Primary is the cost of the repair. In many cases, repairing equipment is less expensive than replacing it. However, though the equipment cost may be lower, the necessary labor sometimes outweighs the savings. Troubleshooting can be time consuming. This is particularly true for older vessels where manufacturer support is nil and replacement parts may be difficult to find or expensive to purchase. Repairing equipment can be a good option if the repair is relatively minor and the equipment is still in good working condition overall. A full assessment of the system can help determine if it is repairable in a cost-effective manner.
Another factor to consider is the availability of qualified repair technicians. Many engineers prefer to work with technicians who are familiar with their specific type of vessel and equipment. This can make it easier to find a qualified technician who can perform the repair quickly and efficiently. However, the availability of parts can severely impact the ability to effect repairs. Lately, some parts are as though they never existed. Stocks around the world are completely sold out, with months or years as lead times. Another consideration is the potential for the repair to be a temporary fix. Depending on the age and condition of the equipment, repairing it may only provide a short-term solution. This can be particularly frustrating if the equipment breaks down again soon after the repair is completed.
When it comes to replacing yacht equipment, there are several advantages to consider. The first is the potential for improved performance and safety. Newer equipment may offer better performance, improved efficiency, and enhanced safety features. This can be particularly important for critical equipment such as engines, navigation systems, and safety equipment.
There is also the potential for cost savings over the long term. While the initial cost of replacing equipment may be higher than repairing it, newer equipment is often more efficient and may require less maintenance over time. This can result in cost savings in the form of reduced fuel consumption, fewer repairs, and a longer overall lifespan for the equipment. New equipment will also come with a warranty against breakdown.
On the downside, depending on the type of equipment being replaced, the cost can be significant. This can be particularly challenging for yacht owners who are on a tight budget. The typical guideline is if the repair exceeds 50% of replacement cost or the equipment requires frequent repair, replacement is the best course of action. Replacing equipment can be time-consuming and may require the vessel to be taken out of service for an extended period of time. So, careful scheduling and advance planning are important to remain on schedule.
In many cases, repairing equipment can be a good option if the repair is relatively minor and the equipment is still in good working condition overall. However, if the equipment is critical to the performance and safety of the vessel or if the repair is likely to be only a temporary fix, replacing the equipment may be the better option. Ultimately, the decision to repair or replace yacht equipment should be made based on careful consideration of all of the relevant factors.
When the boss presses a button, they just want it to work. Regardless of who is the decision maker, it’s the engineer who gets the stinkeye when the door doesn’t open or the light doesn’t come on.
JD Anson has more than 20 years of experience as a chief engineer on superyachts. He is currently project manager at Fine Line Marine Electric in Fort Lauderdale.