Malta Yachting industry challenges Notice by EU Commissioner

Malta Yachting industry challenges Notice by EU Commissioner

The Malta Maritime Law Association, the Malta Maritime Forum, the Yachting Services Trade Section within the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the Institute of Financial Services Practitioners and the Super Yacht Industry Network Malta denounce the recent Notice sent to Malta by the EU Commissioner in connection with the Maltese VAT rules for pleasure yachts.

In light of the fact that the Maltese system is fully in line with EU law and no similar notice was sent to Member States which apply the same principle under the EU’s VAT Directive the Maltese yachting industry questions why such a notice has been sent at all and why this discriminatory approach is being adopted by the Commissioner.

It is noted that the manner in which Malta has applied the option granted by Article 59a of the European Union’s VAT Directive is exactly the same as that adopted by Italy. Indeed, Malta’s rules on effective use and enjoyment of pleasure yachts within and outside EU territorial waters mirror those adopted by Italy through Circular No 49 of 7 June 2002 issued by the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue authorities).

The actual percentages of deemed use of yachts within EU territorial waters adopted by Malta are identical to those which Italy had drafted in the said Circular. Malta has certainly not reinvented the wheel but has rather based itself on a similar interpretation given by Italy which the Italian tax authorities confirmed most recently in October 2010 through a “Vademecum del Leasing Nautico” issued with the collaboration of the Italian tax authorities. Furthermore, it is highlighted that France has been recognizing since 2005 that it is difficult for lessors of yachts to establish how much a leased yacht is used within EU waters. Article 13 of the Administrative Instruction 3 A-1-05 published by the French tax authorities in Bulletin Officiel des Imports on 24 January 2005 recognizes such difficulty and then allows yacht lessors to apply a 50% reduction on the total lease amount, irrespective of the category of the yacht. In practice, this means that only 50% of French VAT would be payable as a result of this French rule.

Malta’s system does not exempt yachts from payment of VAT but rather provides guidelines (as allowed for by the EU Directive) regarding deemed use outside and within EU territorial waters such that yachts using such guidelines will always pay VAT at varying degrees.

We believe that both the Italian and French systems do not infringe the EU vat laws. Therefore we cannot understand why Malta’s system should be singled out.

We appeal to the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean Claude Juncker, to intervene in this matter so as to ensure that there is no discrimination against smaller EU States like Malta.

It is also the belief of the local Yachting Industry that it is in the European Union’s collective interest that the Commission protects the European yachting sector in line with the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy thereby ensuring that Europe does not lose out to competition in the maritime sector by non-EU countries.

Finally, we appeal to all political parties and stakeholders in Malta in a situation where the Maltese system reflects a legitimate application of a principle of EU law which is supported by the other EU Member States, to act as a united front in protecting Malta’s yachting industry.

50 Tips for Your First Season in Yachting 

50 Tips for Your First Season in Yachting

1. Do your homework before the season, including writing your sailing CV, registering online with crew recruitment agencies and storing electronic copies of CVs, certificates, references, and passports on a USB stick.

2. Get your banking and financial affairs in order and consider giving your parents or someone you trust power of attorney to oversee your financial affairs on your behalf.

3. Superyachts allow you to live and work with virtually zero living costs. Grab the chance to save or pay off debt.

4. Buy a good pair of sunglasses (plus strap) and a Leatherman.

5. Buy a laptop before the season and Skype family and friends back home. 

6. Drink loads of water and wear sun cream.

7. Wear in your deck shoes before you start dock walking.

8. Take off your shoes and wipe your feet on the mat before boarding any yacht.

9. Always ask permission before stepping aboard.

10. Never have more than one or two people on the passerelle.

11. Don’t believe rumors or prophets of doom, always investigate for yourself. 

12. ‘Please, thank you, excuse me, I’m sorry’ are phrases that oil the relationships of any crew.

13. Always take the initiative by introducing yourself to people you don’t know.

14. Communicate clearly and concisely, especially when using handheld radios.

15. Never gossip about guests, captains or crew.

16. Don’t whine.

17. Always look before you step (or you could end up in the bilge with a broken leg).

18. Observe perpetually.

19. Anticipate (weather, guests’ needs, potential hazards etc).

20. If you open it, close, if you use, it, put it back, if you finish it, replace it.

21. When living and working on yachts, remember the little things are the big things.

22. Fold boxes flat and crush cans and plastic bottles to save space.

23. Place extra bin liners at the bottom of rubbish bins.

24. Carry rubbish bags over the side of the boat when taking rubbish off the boat.

25. Stay drug-free and tattoo-free.

26. Go to a yacht chandlery and get familiar with marine cleaning products and materials.

27. When washing the boat, don’t nick the paintwork with belt-buckles or broom handles.

28. Learn fast, everyone else had to.

29. Don’t make enemies; the yachting world is too small.

30. Keep your language and the soles of your feet clean.

31. Never turn down an opportunity to day work. 

32. If you’re given a tip-off, keep it to yourself or someone else might scoop your job.

33. During wash downs, always work from the top down and avoid wetting neighboring boats. 

34. Walk softly over the decks and don’t slam doors or hatches.

35. Never drag, drop or throw anything onto teak decks.

36. Be positive, proactive, punctual and professional.

37. Network relentlessly, it really is about who you know. 

38. Never ask about salaries during interviews.

39. Collect as many written references as possible.

40. Always keep your CV up to date and always have a copy with you. 

41. Lies and/or laziness will get you fired.

42. Be aware of what’s happening around you, for example, the neighboring boat that is about to leave, the chafing stern line or the person on the quay looking for the captain. 

43. Learn the language of boats.

44. If you have a safety thought, act on it.

45. Kink hoses before removing the nozzle gun and always drain the water from the hose before coiling it and stowing it away. 

46. Be obsessive about personal hygiene and cooking hygiene.

47. When cleaning the hull from the tender or raft, attach a line to the suction cups to avoid losing them in the water. Don’t try to attach the suction cups to the curved section of the hull or you’ll end up in the water! 

48. When cleaning the hull from the tender, remove the outboard, if possible, to avoid scratching it against the hull or the dock.

49. Look after your health and weight and stock up on multivitamins. 

50. Relish every magic moment because life is short and no job lasts forever.

Things to Consider While Buying a Yacht

Things to Consider While Buying a Yacht

Lifestyle magazines and movies have romanticized the idea of yachts so much that anyone who can afford it wants one. But before you can head off over the horizon, there’s a hurdle to get over – buying it. Considering the high stakes and technical know-how required, buying a yacht is no easy task. It is easy to get scammed or charged absurdly high rates for a sub-standard yacht. Luckily, we’ve got your back. Keep these tips in mind while shopping for a yacht to make sure you get the best deal.

1. Get Help from the Experts

A yacht has many elements to it. If you want to purchase the yacht that’s right for you, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these items. Ask for help from people who already own some kind of passenger boat. Get them to show you how to operate it, and understand the terminology involved. If you are not aware of any such person, go for online videos, tutorials, and reading the material. Remember, an ignorant buyer is a lot more susceptible to being scammed. If you know the basics of a yacht, you’re more likely to spot a good deal and avoid the fraudsters.

2. Know Your Requirements

How big do you want your yacht to be? Will you use it for traveling, or are you going to charter it out? How many passengers do you expect to have? Do you prefer speed or a luxury cruise? How much are you willing to spend? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you start hunting for a yacht. Once you know what you want, it becomes a lot easier to find something that matches those goals. Another important thing you need to ask is whether you’re happy with a production yacht, or do you want to go for a custom yacht. The prices of both differ significantly, and so does their suitability for you. IMPORTANT NOTE: When counting the number of travelers, do not forget to take crew members into account.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Prices of Yachts

Yachts are a significant investment, and you should expect to spend a considerable part of your savings on one. Production yachts, i.e., yachts that are mass produced and assembled by factories, using general specifications and requirements, generally start around Euro 100,000 and can go beyond Euro 5 million. Semi-custom or fully custom yachts are considerably more expensive. A semi-custom yacht averages about Euro 25 million, while a fully custom yacht can reach Euro 100 million. Another option to consider is buying a previously owned yacht. This brings the initial cost down, but there is always a risk of it being worn or faulty, so the cost of upkeep and maintenance will go up. Buying second-hand is a good option if you have experience in buying yachts, or know someone who does. This way you can keep an eye out for any mechanical or other faults in the boat. Second-hand is also good if you want a customized boat or a yacht with some character and history attached to it. You can use the money you save on the initial cost to refit and customize it to your taste. Being aware of the many elements involved in a yacht is helpful when you negotiate a price with the dealer. Knowing the value of everything involved can help you assess whether the seller is offering you a fair price or not. When it comes to budgeting, it is important to take into consideration the upkeep and maintenance costs. A yacht requires a proper support crew, fuel, and general maintenance. All this can cost you a lot of money every year. Add to this the insurance costs, and you have a hefty bill.

4. Enlist the Help of a Yacht Broker

Just like a real estate agent, getting help from a yacht broker makes the process faster and less stressful. Brokers can help you find the perfect yacht, but you will need to know your requirements and be able to make them clear. Yacht brokers have plenty of experience in buying yachts for customers, thus enabling them to detect a good buy when they see one. Find a good broker either through referrals or by checking their advertisements – but do make sure you run a background check on them too. You can do this by talking to some of their previous customers, asking about their experience.

5. Avoid Private Sellers or Dealers without a Credible Reputation

It might be tempting to get a cheaper yacht from a less reputable dealer or even an individual private seller, but this will significantly improve the risk of scams and frauds. Always go for reputable dealers, who have a reputation to protect and uphold. The private sellers have far less to lose, as they will usually have only one or two boats to sell, so a bad reputation won’t affect them much. When it comes to reputable dealers, one unsatisfied customer can ruin the image they took years to nurture and build. They will go the extra mile to make sure the customer is happy and satisfied because a satisfied customer significantly improves the dealer’s image.

6. Take Your Yacht for a Test Ride

Once you have decided on a boat, it is important to take it out for a test ride. A yacht will cost you a lot of money, so it’s best to be vigilant. Make sure you’re entirely satisfied with the yacht you are about to buy, because once the contract is signed there won’t be much you can do. Save yourself the regret and test your yacht! If you can take an expert on board with you, so much the better – they can point out any flaws, or tell you if the yacht is not as the seller advertised. Sellers may often charge you for the test ride, but if you’re lucky or have good negotiation skills, you can convince the dealer to waive this. Even if you do have to pay, it is still important to check the yacht – they cost a lot, and if you cut corners now, you might be faced with additional maintenance costs later.

7. Payment

A third party escrow service are designed to provide complete safety to buyers when paying for high value transactions such as when purchasing a yacht. No money changes hands between the two parties until all terms and conditions of the sale have been met meaning that there is no risk to the buyer of not receiving their boat. If you are looking to buy a yacht, contact us today to ensure that your transaction is secured. We look forward to serving all your yacht needs
Once you’re satisfied, you can finally sign that contract. At this point, make sure you have complete documentation and proof of ownership. Only then can you enjoy your boat. If you have no prior experience in sailing, hire a crew and maintenance staff, or get some training.


New construction vessel contracts – the pros and cons

Competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace, prospective purchasers will find it more cost-effective to purchase new construction with warranties, as opposed to a comparably priced brokerage boat. As such, purchasing a newly constructed vessel has become an attractive option for both experienced boaters and first-timers. When constructing a new vessel, the shipyard will inevitably ask you to sign a purchase agreement detailing the build. Regardless of the nature of complexity or type of contract, purchasers should keep in mind three important factors prior to signing an agreement. First, where is the boat being delivered upon completion? Secondly, how will changes be handled and the progress of payments? And thirdly, how will  a default by the shipyard be handled?

In today’s global marketplace, boats may be purchased from all over the world. Oftentimes the shipyard is in a different location where the vessel is built, than where it will be delivered. In certain circumstances, the yard will ask the purchaser to take delivery at the yard and then would be the owner’s responsibility to move the boat to its ultimate destination. Whereas in other cases, the yard will agree to deliver the vessel to a point chosen by the purchaser. This can have major implications with regards to warranties and sales or value added tax.

The delivery point can have major influence on a purchaser’s decision making because, depending on the jurisdiction, it can add a significant amount to the cost of the vessel. It is best to consider the tax ramifications of delivery prior to signing the purchase agreement in order to provide the most favorable terms to the purchaser. If you have not had a chance to speak with a maritime lawyer or tax professional prior to signing the contract, you might consider leaving the delivery location as “to be determined” until you have had a chance to speak with a qualified professional.

The second point to consider with regards to delivery is when the warranties will begin to run. Typically, warranties on the vessel do not begin to run until the owner takes delivery of the vessel. It becomes important to know when and where that delivery will take place in order to know when the warranty period begins. As issues come up in your first year of ownership, as oftentimes happens, this date may become important in the future.

The second major issue we see in new construction is how to handle change orders and progress payments. Change orders are common in new construction agreements as owners continue to see the progress of their vessel and decide that they want to add or change features that they did not originally contemplate on. Shipyards would be happy to accommodate the purchaser but  at an added cost. It is important for the contract to specify which changes will be considered to be significant and which changes can be accomplished at no further charges. Depending on how change orders are handled, it can have substantial implication on the overall cost of the vessel.

Additionally any increases in the cost of the vessel, changes in orders can affect the amount of time it takes to complete the vessel. Prior to making a change order, the purchaser should request that the shipyard provide a clear estimate of the amount of time that will be assigned to each change. While it is expected and understandable that changes can add to the time it takes to complete a vessel, change orders should not give the shipyard a blank slate to complete the vessel whenever it wants to or drag out the construction. The contract should contemplate changes and assign reasonable amounts of time and cost for the changes to be completed.

The contract also needs to contemplate at what point progress payments will be due. This can sometimes be a set of defined milestones the shipyard must meet prior to the next or final payment being made. While in other contracts, it calls for every single milestone to be met in each stage of the construction prior to payment. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of agreement. When it is necessary that 100 percent of milestones be reached prior to payment, the purchaser is guaranteed to have the entire stage completed before he makes a payment. The drawback is that if there is a delay or backorder on parts, a stage may be nearly completed but construction will have to stop until the part is received and installed and the next payment is tendered. On the other hand, if the purchaser can be satisfied that a predetermined certain percentage of a progress stage is complete in order to make the next payment, progress can continue on schedule without being delayed by back ordered materials or similar issues. The drawback of this type of agreement is that the purchaser may have made a progress payment while a significant part of the vessel remains unfinished while the shipyard waits for materials to arrive. A prospective purchaser should weigh the pros and cons of each option prior to purchase.

The final issue we see involving new construction contracts is how to deal with default by the shipyard. Default typically happens in two ways; either the shipyard goes bankrupt or the shipyard fails to complete the vessel in a timely manner in compliance with the agreement. Each purchaser should ensure that there are provisions in their purchase agreement that protect them in the event of default. The easiest way to accomplish this is to include a penalty clause for each day the completion date is pushed back because of a default by the yard. The total delay cost can then be subtracted from the final payment made by the purchaser. It is important to carefully define scenarios in which the shipyard will be penalized for their delay.

Another consideration to include in the contract is which party will retain possession of the vessel under construction and any materials purchased for the vessel in the event of a default or bankruptcy by the builder. Many purchasers may have an interest in retaining both the hull under construction and already purchased materials to take to another shipyard for completion. Oftentimes, if a shipyard reaches the point of bankruptcy, it will not have any other assets available for the purchaser to recover the purchaser’s costs already incurred. This means the vessel, as is, and any materials are the only way to recover for the purchaser.

The purchase and construction of a brand new vessel can be a very exciting time and one that the purchaser can easily get caught up in the excitement. New vessel construction contracts can be very complex agreements with a number of provisions that have serious monetary ramifications for the prospective purchaser. In spite of the excitement, purchasers would be well advised to enter the agreement with caution and to seek professional counsel before signing any shipyard agreement.

Contact our ASSET- V Team Today for more information.


Regulating environmental impact

Regulating ship’s environmental impact

Public awareness of the shipping industry has changed over time and whereas it was once seen as an exciting and romantic undertaking, today it is mainly perceived negatively. And most criticism is directed at shipping’s supposed disregard for the environment.

It is true that ships run on fuels that do produce harmful exhaust emissions but while there may be an element of choice in this, the main reason is a combination of economics and insufficient availability of alternatives.

Today, the burden of regulation on exhausts is getting heavier and while the technology to reduce pollution is being developed, it is not always suited to all ship types or operations.

Compared to shore-based industries, shipping has fewer opportunities to control and contain the inevitable pollution that can occur. A power station on shore can easily accommodate large items of emission control equipment and in the event of a problem it can easily be shut down and its output to the grid made up by others. That is not an option available to a ship at sea.

The problems of controlling ships’ exhaust emissions are compounded by the way the regulation has evolved, tackling first one component of the exhaust, then another and another without the realization that combustion is a complex chemical process and controls on one gas may influence the production of another.

Some would argue that exhaust emissions need to be considered as an inevitable side effect of human economic activity and while there may be some detrimental effect, overall the wealth created by trade and the food and raw materials transported to where they are needed most improves the quality of human life and raises living standards.

Environmental regulation is not all about exhaust emissions and few would argue against controlling deliberate pollution of the environment by hazardous chemicals and substances other than in a dire emergency. On the other hand, disposal of food waste and even sewage is of questionable harm in the deep oceans and viewed dispassionately could even be beneficial providing nutrients for marine life and recycling essential trace elements. Nevertheless, it is regulated and most shipowners do comply with the rules in place.

Developing equipment and technology to control the environmental impact of shipping is spread over a wide range of ships’ activities and understanding the means available to limit the impact is taking up an ever greater amount of an operator’s time and investment.

Tips for yacht refit preparation and yard time

Useful tips for yacht refit preparation and yard time

It is important to plan yard period well in advance; early planning will always save the owner money. The yacht captain or manager should be aware of the class surveys that are due, but it is not unusual to find yachts with overdue surveys for the simple reason that they were forgotten about.

Often, yachts have planned the cosmetic work that will be carried out during the yard period, but have partly or totally omitted to take into account the classification surveys that are due. Overdue docking surveys mean yachts that have been dry-docked are often left no other option but to haul out again.

Yacht captains and managers always need to check the survey status when planning a dry dock, and, if in doubt, you can always contact your yacht management team for advice on where you stand with surveys.

Yacht in yacht lift
When it comes to yacht refits, repairs and modifications, planning in advance can save unforseen costs.

For example, yacht intermediate surveys normally require sanitary tanks to be opened up for inspection, this can be done any time between the second and third annual survey, effectively with an 18-month window to present the tanks for inspection. It is always better to have this done while the yacht is in the yard instead of doing it in a marina, as it is always more convenient to have a tank cleaning team in a shipyard than to end up having to arrange for tank cleaning in a Mediterranean marina in the middle of the summer season.

Although dry-docks are generally very long compared to commercial ships dry-docks, planning is key to a cost effective yard period. Here are  some useful steps to follow:

• Hold a pre-inspection meeting with your yacht management office prior to the yard period to define the scope of the upcoming surveys, this is particularly important to plan the extent of the engine survey that can be costly depending on the amount of opening up.

• Advise the team as early as possible of any work planned that may require a formal design appraisal. This can take a few weeks, and if not planned in advance, you will find that the yacht may have already left the yard before the design review is complete. It is, of course, always best to take into consideration recommendations made at the design review prior to starting the job. You should also keep in mind that when doing a major alteration on a yacht, the rules that apply may not be the rules that applied at time of construction. For example, yachts fitting new stabiliser units having to comply with new regulations found that they have to fit water tight compartment around new stabiliser when these did not exist on the old units.

• Look at the latest amendments to international regulations to check if any modification has to be carried out on the yacht. For example, rail and track systems for certain flags.

For special surveys:

• When doing special surveys for yachts over 15 years of age, try to ascertain the amount of steel work repair before the dry dock. Very often the wasted areas are visible in the bilges or under air conditioning units, on tank tops or in the engine room. It is always better to make an assessment of the amount of steel replacement before coming into dry dock.

• Clear out all the bilges and tank tops so that the inspection on board can be effective. Expect to remove some insulation on deck heads and bulkheads. The difficulty on board a yacht is the access to and visibility of structure hidden behind furniture, insulation and teak.

• For the docking survey, prepare to have measurements taken on the tailshaft and rudder stock. Check the last reading of the cutlass bearing clearance as you may expect to have to replace the bearings. Previous readings will indicate if replacement of bearings will be needed.

It’s recommended to keep a record of all maintenance carried out.

For engine surveys:

• Plan for an electrician to be present to check tightness of electrical connections.

• All ship side valves will have to be removed for inspection, this includes underwater exhaust valves.

• Keep a record of all maintenance carried out; if service reports are thorough this may be helpful to decide on the extent of opening up the engine.

• Prior to completing the surveys in the yard, do not ask your surveyor to complete surveys too early; if you still have two dozen of contractors working on board and half of the doors still in the paint shed, it is not time for the annual survey.

For more information, visit Lloyd’s Register.

Fire Prevention on board

Onboard fire

A shout of “fire” is probably the most dreaded word to hear aboard any vessel. Fires are deadly and destructive, can be difficult to put out, and could ultimately cause the loss of the vessel and/or loss of life.

All crew, especially deck and engineering officers, spend much time and effort undergoing firefighting training and participate in numerous fire drills. Special training is devoted to engine room fires that is where most vessel fires originate. Emphasis is placed on fire prevention including good housekeeping practices and the removal of any one element of the fire triangle (fuel, heat and oxygen) that will cause a fire to go out or not start in the first place.

All yachts built today are designed with fire prevention in mind and include fire bulkheads, non-flammable materials and have systems and equipment to detect fires and extinguish them. There are many fire items aboard such as smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, firefighting gear and tools, fire pumps and plumbing, etc. There are fire safety plans, international rules and a host of measures designed to prevent and, if prevention is not successful, to extinguish fires.

Even when extinguished, depending on the severity and longevity of the fire, much effort and expense will be spent in repair and cleanup, not to mention the vessel being out of service for some amount of time. Fires become exponentially more costly for every second they burn.

Yet, no matter how hard we try to deal with the prevention of vessel fires, they still occur.

Origins of oil mist fires

An important area of fire origination in engine rooms is oil mist. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) recognizes the extreme danger of oil mist fires in vessels: ISO 16437:2012 “The majority of fires which have occurred in engine rooms are generally caused by a leak or fracture from a flammable liquid system. Most engine room fires begin as a result of the ignition of oil mist.

Many mariners are not even aware that oil mist is a fuel and can be present in the engine room without any warning. Oil mist is typically introduced to the engine room via a tiny perforation, fracture or leak of pressurized oil (fuel, lube or hydraulic) from injectors, fuel lines, high-pressure pumps or high-pressure oil lines that atomizes the fluid as it escapes. It is frequently undetectable by the naked eye.

Oil mist may also form when oil contacts a hot surface causing the oil to vaporize. Oil mist is quite small, with droplets in the 1-10 micron range, and tends to disperse evenly in the surrounding air. It has a large surface area and a low flash-point temperature, making it very flammable when sufficient quantities are present. If the quantity of oil mist reaches the lower explosive level of 50 mg/liter and comes into contact with a heat source of 200 degrees C, it can explode.

Ignition can come from heat sources such as bearings, turbochargers, exhaust systems and electrical sources such as electric contacts, faulty wiring, motors and static electricity. Oil mist explosions in large engine crankcases have been recognized for many years and devices to detect this have been required for quite some time. More recently, attention has been given to oil mist in the ambient air in engine rooms, and oil mist detectors for this specific problem have been developed.

Oil mist detectors vary

There are two types of oil mist detectors for engine rooms. The earlier “sniffer” systems have been around for a while. This type will extract engine room air into the unit and analyze it by nephelometry, the detection of oil mist due to light scatter. If oil mist is present, an alarm will be generated.

They work well, however, there are some disadvantages. Multiple units are needed to effectively sample the various areas in the machinery space because each local point of the machinery space ventilation will require a separate unit. The units are pre-calibrated so no adjustments are possible. Each sampling unit is somewhat bulky and most require AC power, so if the problem lies with the electrical generator, they stop functioning when the generator is shut down unless a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is provided. They have moving parts (fans), which require periodic maintenance, and some units have filters that must be changed. The nephelometric chamber that houses the light source transmitter, measuring receiver and compensating receiver will need periodic cleaning. This type of system is typically found on large commercial vessels.

A more recent type of oil mist detector is the optical opacity meter. These were also developed for large commercial vessels but because of their small size, they are ideal for yacht installations.

Initially, infrared light was used but the most advanced systems now use a laser. The laser is transmitted from the transceiver to a reflector and back, a double-pass detection method. The optical qualities of the laser are precisely known so any oil mist present will be detected by the opacity of the laser light.

There are a number of advantages to this type of system: They are much smaller, streamlined units. The transceiver and reflector can be mounted from 1m up to 15m (50 feet) apart, providing a large area of coverage. Generally, two units will cover a large engine room and the main reason for the second unit is not only to provide more coverage but to also provide redundancy. They are also fully programmable so that warnings and alarms can be adjusted to any opacity parameter.

These systems integrate into the vessel’s communications system using MODBUS TCP/IP protocol so they are easy to install. They have no moving parts so the only maintenance required is to periodically wipe the lenses clean. They use DC power (typically 24 volts), the same as most modern electronics, so are not affected if the vessel’s generator is taken off line.

Another big difference is that these types of oil mist detectors will also detect the presence of smoke. Earlier versions had more false alarms because of the longer light path, but advances in the quality of the laser optical beam analysis and the ability to program the units have greatly reduced or eliminated this problem. Multiple transceivers can work off of a single PLC (programmable logic controller).

Yacht safety comes first

Additional transceivers can be installed to protect other machinery spaces that have the potential for oil mist, such as generator rooms, hydraulic spaces (stabilizers and thrusters), and steering gear areas (lazarettes). Besides protecting from fire hazard, the early warning of oil mist presence will pay dividends in keeping the yacht’s machinery spaces clean. The system is type classed and certified by DNV-GL for classed vessels. Most importantly, it gives the crew an early warning of a hazardous fire situation.

Marine insurance companies are still unaware, for the most part, that these systems exist for yachts, but this will change as more oil mist detectors are installed and fire casualties are reduced. This is already the case with commercial vessels, especially tankers and cruise ships.

Firefighting and fire extinguishing are important, but fire prevention is even more so. Preventing fires is the most cost-effective method to avoid injury, damage, and loss.

What are the factors that contribute to the choice of flag registration?

The yachting industry is focused on the pursuit of pleasure. Many aspects affect an owner’s choice in a yacht. Aside from the purely cosmetic and recreational issues, a large portion of a yacht’s existence depends upon its legal structure. Included in that framework is the yacht’s intended use and domicile, namely its registration.

The factors that contribute to the choice of flag registration for a yacht can be many. Certainly, the legal aspects and tax implications are high on the list. Will the yacht operate predominantly in United States, European, or worldwide waters? Let us not forget perception, politics, nationalism, and personal contacts. Although sometimes it may appear that way, an owner’s decision for registering a yacht is not simply picking the flag with the prettiest colors.

There is a choice that is always discussed with captains, brokers, documentation agents, attorneys, and all others associated with our industry: should the yacht be registered as private or commercial?

In this lethargic economy, even the most affluent of yacht owners are searching for a return on investment from everything, including their hobbies and entertainment.
Let’s take a look at some of the more popular responses on commercial certification and clarify the points.

Too expensive
Certainly, expenses and fees are on the top of everyone’s list. Let us remember that most yacht owners did not achieve their success by being foolish. This is especially true when it comes to finances. Running a yacht, either private or commercial, is not cheap. For a commercial yacht, there are additional costs involved in safety equipment, required third-party inspections, registration, and legal fees. Solely considering the amount of tax that is levied on the value of a private yacht, plus the future taxes on her fuel, doesn’t consider that those costs are almost immediately recouped. In some cases, the first day of a charter and/or the savings at her first fueling will recoup those costs. The inherent increased resale value for a commercially certified yacht is also a positive factor.

Owner has no intention of chartering
Having a yacht certified for commercial operations does not obligate an owner to charter the yacht. When, where, and if, an owner so decides is completely at the owner’s discretion. Having a yacht meet the standards of commercial certification is a statement to the level of safety implemented on board. It is also a tremendous benefit when the time comes for her resale. Compare it to used car sales. Does one have a higher level of confidence when purchasing a certified, pre-owned vehicle, compared to the same car you saw down the road at someone’s house? Unlike a private yacht, commercial yachts are inspected annually. This promotes continual improvement and assures a consistent standard. Commercial certification provides a third-party, objective view of the condition of the yacht.

Too much paperwork
Too much paperwork is the most popular response. Running a yacht is a business. No company today can be operated without some type of management system or operating procedures. If a yacht is not run with such a system, then it is not functioning correctly. However, too much administration can be an indication of micromanagement or inexperience. If a captain and crew are being inundated with paperwork, then something is wrong. A simple and professional administrative system, when implemented properly, will save any yacht, either private or commercial, a considerable amount of money. Operating a commercially certified yacht does not create paperwork disproportionate to its advantages.

Depending upon the flag of registry, manning can be an issue. If the yacht operates under a national flag, such as the United States, cabotage laws require that the yacht is manned with U.S. citizens and no more than 25-percent legal residents. Open registries, such as the Cayman Islands and Marshall Islands, allow for certain countries on the IMO-approved STCW Code “white list.” This permits a more international crew. Remember that certification discussed here is different from qualification. Licenses, certificates, and the standards enforced by the STCW Code are just that, an internationally recognized minimum standard. Officer licenses and crew training certificates are not a guarantee of quality. Quality comes with experience. Personnel certification on a commercial yacht is a must, but why would an owner utilize someone that has not met a minimum standard?

The yacht is not classed
Not being classed has always been a huge hurdle for yachts wanting to achieve commercial certification. There are many well-built and maintained yachts that, because of their hull construction or age, are not able to meet the standards of a classification society’s rules. The costs for putting a yacht “in class” can also be substantial, not to mention the time involved. The prerequisite for a yacht to be classed is a requirement of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) Large Yacht Code. This safety code is a national standard for British yachts only. It is enforced by the red ensign flags (United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Bermuda, etc). While highly popular and internationally recognized, a MCA classification is not the only option for a yacht. Several other flags have their own commercial yacht codes. Currently, the most popular option involves the Marshall Islands, while others include the St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Belize, and Malta. These non-red ensign yachts are also commercially certified and receive the same rights and privileges. They are not certified as MCA solely because they are not British flagged.

Most notably absent from the above list is the United States. With such a large fleet of yachts, one would think that they have a yacht code. This is not case. The United States does not have a large yacht code or similar standard. Regulations for U.S.-flagged yachts are intertwined with those for merchant ships in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs). This creates a very difficult situation for yachts that want to trade internationally.

It is equally important to note that other flags’ yacht codes have recognized the many unclassed, but excellent yachts that previously could not operate commercially. Their codes allow for certain unclassed yachts to be certified as a commercial yacht. This is particularly true for yachts below 500 gross tons. While not as well-known or marketed, these non-UK national standards for commercial yachts are equivalent and equally recognized internationally. The options are there, they only need to be researched.

Many people can attest that achieving commercial certification for a yacht is a difficult process. Some have the opinion that maintaining the certification is an even higher task. Commercially certifying a yacht has traditionally been a taboo subject for all but the largest of yachts seeking to charter. Breaking the chain of incorrectly passed-down verbal history of “impossibility” is imperative to elevate the quality standard within our industry to the next level.


Malta offers great diving, deep harbors

Malta offers great diving, deep harbors



Malta is a southern European island country comprising an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 50 miles (80 km) south of Italy, 176 miles (284 km) east of Tunisia, and 207 miles (333 km) north of Libya. The country covers just over 122 square miles (316 square kilometers) and has a population of just under 450,000, making it one of the world’s most densely populated countries.

The capital is Valletta, which, at 0.8 square kilometers, is the smallest national capital in the European Union.

Malta’s location has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base, and a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British. Malta was admitted to the United Nations in 1964 and to the European Union in 2004. In 2008, it became part of the Eurozone.

Malta is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, and architectural and historical monuments, including three Unesco World Heritage Sites, and seven Megalithic temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world. If old churches are of interest, Malta has 365 of the most exquisite churches, one for each day of the year.

Malta has three large natural harbors on its main island:

  • The Grand Harbor at the eastern side of the capital city of Valletta, has been a harbor since Roman times. It has several extensive docks and wharves, a cruise liner terminal, as well as a number of marinas. Grand Harbor Marina accommodates the largest yachts. It also has a terminal that serves ferries that connect Malta to Pozzallo and Catania in Sicily.
  • Marsamxett Harbor on the western side of Valletta has a number of yacht marinas, Manoel Island Yacht Marina being the largest, able to accommodate yachts to 80m. It is centrally located in Gzira so chandlery shops, shopping malls, supermarkets and tourist services are all accessible within a short walking distance. In the vicinity, one also find numerous restaurants, bars and convenience shops.
  • Marsaxlokk Harbor (Malta Freeport) at Birżebbuġa on the southeastern side of Malta, is the island’s main cargo terminal. Malta Freeport is the 11th busiest container port in Europe and 46th busiest in the world.

There are also two manmade harbors that serve a passenger and car ferry service that connects Ċirkewwa Harbor on Malta and Mġarr Harbor on Gozo. There is a marina in Mgarr that accommodates smaller yachts to about 22m.

Depths are not an issue in and around Malta. Anchoring is difficult, though, as depths reach 40m and more just 4.5m from shore.

Malta is a huge dive destination for Europeans. There are many artificial reefs made by sunken ships and numerous cave dive sites. Although the waters are extremely clear, do not expect as much coral and sea life as one would see in the Caribbean. Many seaside resorts in crystal clear water-bays surround the islands.

The food generally has an Italian influence and in most places, one can order in Italian language, as it is the third unofficial language, after the official languages of Maltese and English.

Fishing is not one of the islands’ advantages, as we found out on our research. Most fresh fish is from multiple floating farms strategically placed around the islands. Beware of them as they are moved around and may cause navigation hazards.

There are plenty of other things to do and one should tour all three major Islands, as each has different things to offer.

Visitors total about 1.5 million a year, so traffic can be unpleasant. Local transportation, on the other hand, is organized and affordable.

Crew/Tutor roles and trends on a yacht

For some owners who wish to take extended trips over a number of months, having a tutor on board means that children can enjoy the experiences world-wide cruises can bring, while not negatively affecting their educational progress. There has been a growing trend where yacht owners are organizing cruises for their family – sometimes for over a year – and taking their children out of school. Not only do these trips offer the unique opportunity for children to live aboard a yacht, but also experience a non-traditional educational platform.

When bringing a new teacher on board the yacht, it can be difficult for a tutor to assimilate themselves into the existing crew dynamic. Of course, the tutor would not be seen as a member of the family, but also neither would they be a traditional crewmember.

Tips for tutors and yacht owners


  • Tutors are encouraged to become a multi-faceted member of the yacht’s crew. They should be able to offer a range of skills so they are a useful member of the team.
  • Hiring should only be to those who have trained professionally as teachers. For those that have actively chosen to teach children, this could be a way to combine their vocation with an unforgettable opportunity to travel the world.

The advantages of education on a yacht

The children’s education often surpasses any that they would have in schools. Whereas a round-the-world trip would have previously been seen as damaging to child’s schooling, a dedicated onboard tutor offering four hours of teaching per day is often more effective than a full day at a ‘normal’ school. There are a lot more people doing this, and a lot more people considering it. There’s a sense that it’s not detrimental to the child, it’s actually good for them. Schools are also supportive of that.

For many, the lessons learned on board, as well as the undivided attention of the tutor, means that the pupils often return from their voyages with superior knowledge to their classmates. The children usually come back ahead of where they left. By the time the child returns from that trip, they’ve not only had the life experience, the worldliness, but they also have all their academics fixed.

This career route could be an opportunity for teachers who wish to change their environment for something a little different, or for a crewmember looking to add another string to their bow.

The concept of education is becoming more fluid, with schools and parents moving away from the traditional regimes found in established institutions. If qualified teachers are looking for a change in environment, becoming a private tutor on board a superyacht could offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Similarly, if crew wish to pursue a career that ensures longevity, becoming a certified tutor is a way to stay in the yachting market and adopt new skills. The market may begin to see a crew/tutor role as a more viable option and common part of any yacht’s team.