Navigating a pandemic: What was it like for yacht management?
Updated: Nov 25
(Article originally published by superyachttimes.com)
Like many of us, RYacht Services agent Silvia Dedja has had quite a year. Unlike the rest of us, however, she has navigated through closed ports, helped short-staffed crews and overcame quite literally ‘trouble in paradise’. Here, she tells SuperYacht Times what the past year has been like for yacht agency and reveals her hopes for the future.
"The year 2020 was certainly a special one for the yachting industry. Nobody foresaw a virus like Covid-19 shutting down the whole world on the scale it did. Like many other industries, when the first lockdown hit in March, we yacht support were forced to work remotely from home.
Boat shows began closing one-by-one. But we kept busy; time was spent sending information to clients and captains and figuring out what would be possible by way of getting yachts in and out of marinas, shipyard works and trying to figure out the best methods for ensuring safe and easy crew embarkation and disembarkation.
Transporting yachts was a logistical minefield
During the first lockdown, we had one big mission that stands out to me when I reflect on that time. We were tasked with safely bringing a client’s boat to the Netherlands after the end of their worldwide itinerary. In January, it was loaded onto yacht transport DYT in Brisbane, Australia and its course was set for an arrival at the port of Palma de Mallorca in April. 2020 being what it was, this of course did not go as easily as planned. As it is an island, Palma was impossible to fly into. Even the owner’s private jet was not allowed to land.
After plenty of logistical negotiating and decision-making, our team decided to bring the yacht transport to Toulon’s Fos de Mer. From there, two weeks of navigation saw the boat finally arrive in the Netherlands, with six crew members instead of twelve and no possibility of a crew change.
The pandemic had a massive impact on crew rotations. Crew changes, in many cases, had to come to a complete halt. Plus, many crew were left on board for much longer than they should have been.
It was a scary time for many in the business because we simply didn’t know what would happen the next day. Ports and borders started closing all over, supplies became scarce, and we had to figure out a way to ensure social distancing rules were abided by on land. That meant no socializing between crew members, and owners began holding off on their summer plans.