We were recently featured in a great article on BoatPoint.com.au. You can check it out here or keep reading below.
We profile Sydney Vessel Management, a good example of today’s hands-off boating services
It’s that time of the year when you wake from your winter slumber and think about readying the boat. The birds have been calling it home, the gelcoat looks chalky, and the fridge is lined with mould. You cross fingers as you turn the keys to start the engines. The battery seems to be labouring before there’s a plume of smoke astern. Now you consider all the other engineering gear back down there.
Of course, it’s one thing to have a grubby boat in need of a spring clean, but something altogether else when it doesn’t work as intended. Engines aren’t made to sit idle, fuel has a shelf life, saltwater and corrosion are eternal. Rust never sleeps. No two ways about it, you need to use your boat in winter to have it working in summer.
Indeed, preventative maintenance is the boater’s friend. But that can be easier said than done in this time-poor age. This is the very reality used by marketeers to sell boat-share and time-share boating operations. Little wonder they are so popular today.
But if you don’t fancy sharing your boat and bunk with others there is another way. Boat management might cost a bit up front but it can save your big bucks in the long run. And what value do you place on your precious leisure time?
SYDNEY VESSEL MANAGEMENT
– A successful Sydney-based boat management model
Enter Dave Sullivan from Sydney Vessel Management( SVM), who spent two years on a crayboat in WA, travelled/worked overseas in Caribbean, did time with Eagle Yachts (Bertram importers), then worked with Andrew Short Marine, where he saw an opening for boat management and went out alone in 2009.
Sullivan now services and manages 18 personal boats in Sydney ranging from a 28ft RIB to a V58 Princess.
“I saw boat owners selling up. People couldn’t get good service, had no knowledge of what they are supposed to do and not time and sometimes no inclination,” Sullivan explains, as we do coffee at The Spit, a Sydney boating hub and his virtual, vast office.
“The old way was that you would work your way up through the ranks, own a bunch of trailerboats and know how it works. These days, people are jumping straight in the deep end and buying a big boat,” he adds.
Sullivan has found some boat owners use his service to learn more about their boats, to build their knowledge base and skill, and one owner recently went to Hamilton Island and has gained the knowledge to go it alone.
But others have no time and no interest at all in learning the ropes. For them, it’s purely a walk on/walk off boating service in keeping with the modern way of doing things and outsourcing the dirty work.
With a Master V (<24m coastal Australian waters) with MED 3 engineering qualification, Captain Sullivan also offers a driving service as well as boat maintenance and management. There is also a concierge service for corporate days.
His services are also being used increasingly by new-boat owners to help them identify issues in need of warranty. But there’s more to it than just getting behind the wheel and taking care of somebody’s boat on a busy Sydney Harbour.
Some owners who are new to boating simply don’t know what to do when they are aboard. So he ditches the electronic devices, launches the tender and shows them his boating secrets around Sydney from years of being on the water. Thus, you get a guide as well.
BOAT MAINTENANCE PACKAGES
– Redeem the outlay with your resale value
For most of the SVM clients, the Full Monty management program is music to their ears. “We put in place a custom package tailored to every boat. This includes visiting the boat fortnightly, alternating between detailing and engineering checks and starts,” Sullivan explains.
SVM takes care of the servicing and maintenance with a schedule, a log and spread sheet for every boat from Day One. Eventually, the documentation and service history helps with resale.
As mentioned, Sullivan helps with boat purchases, too, and he recently oversaw the production of a Palm Beach motoryacht. His motivation for all this was previous instances of Sea Ray cruisers coming in for resale or trade-in with poor service histories.
“These [abused] boats would command $60-80K less than properly maintained sister ships of the same age. I thought something needs to be done to show people how to look after their craft or outsource that need,” he says.
– Riviera 53 with triple IPS
This brings us to cost. Among his fleet of boats is a well-maintained Riviera 53 with triple IPS drives. Using preferred contractors — the boat is serviced for the same price as if you went it alone — commands a prepaid maintenance costs $880 a month (inc. GST). This buys two people who polish the clears, clean the fibreglass, attend to the engines and engineering items and record that in a log.
Driving for corporate events cost extra (about $80/hr) and Sullivan has dropped crews off at Homebush so they can watch the football, staged plenty of booze cruises in the high season, and performed deliveries up and down the coast. “Owners fly in and out of the best destinations and leave the boring legs to us,” he says.
“We’ve staged guided tours of places like Port Stephens with owners staying at The Anchorage and customise boating trips to suit individual needs further afield,” he adds, as we gaze out over Sydney Harbour.
Far from Sullivan being the only one out there offering vessel management. But after five years in the business he must be doing something right. With our leisure time becoming so precious and less time to do the dirty work, vessel management has a bright future.