PIANC has recently issued a report “Design and Operational Guidelines for Superyacht Facilities (WG 134 Report)” which looks at the specific requirements for berthing superyachts.
This informative report looks not only at the many essential considerations when planning berths but also looks at the necessary hardware and utilities, onshore facilities as well as staffing and management.
The basis for the report was firstly to identify a superyacht as a vessel above 24m (in keeping with much of the industry) with a professional crew.
The report identifies two main kinds of superyacht owners, one who keeps the vessel for private use and the other that operates as a year round business or seasonal charter.
According to Boat International Media (2011) there are over 500 superyacht facilities in the world that can berth at least one 24m vessel – the majority being in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. In recent years the largest growth in facilities has been in the Persian Gulf.
The report differentiates between homeports and destination ports with homeports being identified as having the necessary facilities to prepare a superyacht for a voyage. A destination marina is identified as being in a valuable geographical location but not possessing all the facilities required.
Planning for Superyachts
The report identifies the key criteria which need to be taken into account when designing superyacht facilities, these are;
- The dimensions of the vessel (including height)
- Safe and efficient access between the dock and the vessel
- The number of crew and passengers
- Support facilities required to operate the vessel in the berth
In addition it identifies the general requirements to be taken into consideration with regards to site location.
- Adequate water depths and navigation space
- Sheltered from winds and strong currents
- Water quality and replenishment
- Access to and from navigable waters
- Convenient access from land and air
- Hinterland support facilities
- Environmental impact
- Integration with existing and planned developments
Superyacht marinas are often located in areas with hinterlands attractive to superyacht clients or owners. The marina can become the focal point for this region and can encourage a flow of people and goods through the region with significant economic and socio-cultural impacts.
Design of Superyacht Berths
In general slips are either single- or double-berth configurations – with the preferred option being the single-berth configurations as this allows access to both sides of the yacht and offers a greater level of privacy (due to the finger pier between vessels).
The main advantage of the double-berth configuration is that it can accommodate more vessels in the same water space and provides more flexibility to moor a beamier vessel next to one with a narrower beam. During periods of low occupancy double berths can allow tenders to be moored alongside their motherships.
WG 134 gives detailed advice on the minimum and preferred slip widths; mooring styles (Med moorings vs. alongside) plus looking a the attributes of fixed and floating docks.
Superyacht Utilities and Hardware
As vessels have grown larger the demand for fuel, water and electrical power have grown exponentially and should be a primary consideration when planning and designing facilities. The report looks at the best options for power supply and water supply (they should be separated for safety reasons) and comments that in-slip pump-out has become the preferred option.
Marina operators should note that the WG134 Report identifies insufficient electrical power at the berth as the number one complaint from superyacht owners and crew.
The fuel capacity of a typical superyacht can be around 200,000 litres and so the use of high speed pumps that can deliver up to 9.5 litres per second are required. These pumps are extremely large and will require a separate dock for fuelling and because of this many superyacht facilities use tankers or barges to deliver fuel under strict environmental and safety conditions.
Successful Superyacht Berth Operation
WG134 identifies the importance of a customer-focused approach and a high level of services for superyacht berths.
The key requirements are;
- Service and management
- Good road and air connections
- Personal security and protection from surge/winds in the berth
- Reliable shore-based power supply
- Convenient access to shops, restaurants and entertainment
- Ease of port clearance – customs and immigration
- Availability of chandlery and provisioning
- Dockside drinking water and communications
- Aesthetics/natural beauty or social fame of the surrounding region
Given the high levels of competition amongst marinas attempting to attract superyachts successful operators will offer something more than just dockage.
Facilites should be commensurate to the average length of time spent by yachts at the marina – in the Caribbean it can be only a week or so over the winter whereas many Med marinas operate as homeports and are the bases for months at a time. The vital importance of the crew and facilities to attract them should also be taken into account by operators, these can range from a simple crew room to more extensive apartments/bunk houses and leisure activities.
The report identifies training of marina staff as crucial to a successful operation. It notes that whilst many superyachts will accept less than perfect physical infrastructure this is not the case when dealing with marina staff.
Superyacht Safety and Security
As the value of yachts and the possessions held on-board (often including valuable art and jewellery) has grown so security has become a prime consideration and the report suggests that measures should be taken to ensure the public cannot get direct access to the vessel.
Many marinas have CCTV and coded gate access but the report also endorses the use of foot patrols as an additional customer-focused measure.
Owners and clients also tend to be affluent, known personalities and so privacy is frequently a prime consideration. Intrusive paparazzi can ruin the superyacht experience so as well as having segregated berths the report stresses the importance of confidentiality of information by staff and operators.
Design and Operational Guidelines for Superyacht Facilities (WG134) was compiled by working group 134 of the PIANC Recreational Navigational Commission (ReCom), chaired by Robert Nathan, Senior VP of Moffatt & Nichol, Florida USA. Copies available from PIANC at www.pianc.org