Sevenstar Yacht Transport Q&A: Yacht Shipping

August 24, 2015 9:00 am

Sevenstar Yacht Transport is the world’s leading provider of yacht shipping services. With a global network of destinations, worldwide offices, and a fleet of over 120 company-owned vessels, Sevenstar transports more than 2,500 yachts each year.

For the past 30 years, Sevenstar has been providing a unique range of customizable yacht transport services including: lift-on, lift-off; float-on, float-off; and liner services. By utilizing these services, customers can save time and fuel, prevent wear and tear on their yachts, and allow crew to receive much needed rest.

Sevenstar lift on lift off

Sevenstar attributes its success to innovative techniques, flexibility, customer care, and competitive pricing. In an interview with Denison Yacht Sales, Sevenstar discusses the company’s operations, growth, and future plans.

Who founded Sevenstar Yacht Transport? Now the world’s leader of yacht transport services, when did the company go global?

Sevenstar Yacht Transport was founded in 1985 and became part of the Spliethoff Group in 2000. The Spliethoff Group was established in 1921 by Herman Spliethoff and is now one of the largest shipping companies (3,300 employees) in the Netherlands, founded on the tradition of Dutch seamanship dating back to the 1600s.

The Spliethoff Group provides Sevenstar with a unique capacity: Sevenstar is the only yacht transporter in the world that has its own fleet of commercial vessels.

Which country brings Sevenstar the most business?

Sevenstar is a worldwide company that services the transport of yachts to almost every major economic hub. The business follows the world’s economic state and differs year by year. Sevenstar sees a rise in transport in countries where the economy is growing like in the U.S., and a decrease where there is an economic decline like in Russia.

In general, a lot of business is done in the U.S. and European countries like the UK and Italy. The market is also determined by where the most yachts are built. Next, the emerging South Asian markets, specifically China, will have an impact on the industry as a whole in the coming years, as the idea of recreational luxury and wealth extends from the western hemisphere to the eastern.

What percentage of business comes from working with yacht manufacturers and shipping new-build yachts?

This percentage differs every year, but averages around 25 to 30 percent. A large part of the transport with manufacturers is the transportation of yachts to international boat shows.

New build yachts from shipyards, especially ones that are developed by production builders, have the need to transport large quantities of yachts in pristine condition to all areas of the world.

How long has Sevenstar been working with Denison Yacht Sales?

We have worked with the Denison team for the past eight years. During this time, we have transported new and used yachts for Denison brokers and brand managers.

Explain the advantages of using Sevenstar over other yacht shipping companies? Is there a cost saving?

Sevenstar offers a high quality service with a reasonable price. We focus on an all-in fee including insurance, all necessary paperwork, and custom formalities without additional charges.

The advantage for the customers to ship with Sevenstar lies in the fact that we provide the utmost care by highly trained and specialized professionals with long-standing experience.

Another main advantage is that through our company-owned vessels and wide range of worldwide destinations, clients receive great service as well as maximum flexibility in time and location. This is the reason why Sevenstar became the benchmark yacht transporter of the industry worldwide.

What is Sevenstar’s most common method of yacht transport?

Sevenstar uses the fleet of the Spliethoff Group freighter cargo ships utilizing heavy lift cranes for the method of lift-on, lift-off. However, since partnering with DYT Yacht Transport in October of 2013, the use of two semi-submersible yacht carriers with the float-on, float-off method have been added to the fleet.

Briefly describe the lift-on, lift-off process? Was this invented by Sevenstar?

The yacht to be transported is specially fitted with lifting harnesses put in place by professional divers using yacht specifications and schematics. Once everything is in order, the yacht is lifted out of the water by a series of heavy lifting cranes and secured on individual supports to the deck of the transport carrier. Once the yacht arrives at the destination, the same process goes in reverse. Sevenstar did further professionalize this process and developed their own lifting and cradle system, which are based on years of experience in shipping all types of yachts.

What kind of training do Sevenstar load masters undergo?

The load master training is done mostly in-house and on the job under the supervision of our most experienced and senior load masters. The training consists of a variety of subjects including knowledge of the center point of gravity in a wide range of yachts, the structure of yachts, the various cradle systems, the correct placement of the slings, diving capabilities, and training in safety and firefighting.

Handling the cranes and calculating strengths, weights, and maximum outreach of the cranes are also part of the training. A team of 15 people create very precise AutoCAD stow plans for the load masters to work with.

Also, theoretical knowledge is an essential component of the training when it comes to custom and port formalities and other maritime regulations related to the relevant loading or discharge ports.

A high profile job in the maritime industry, load masters fly around the world on continual basis. Many Sevenstar load masters have college degrees, or worked as former first officers or vessel captains.

Sevenstar yachts floating

About how long does it take to load and unload a yacht?

Whereas the time it takes to load and unload a yacht is reliant on environmental conditions and yacht specifications, the actual loading process can take about an hour for yachts less than 60 feet and up to two hours for larger yachts. This does not include the hours spent on logistics, individually tailor-made berthing cradles, and secured sea fastening.

What is the furthest that Sevenstar has transported a yacht?

The shipment from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to Newcastle in Australia is probably the furthest transport. In general, Sevenstar is transporting yachts all over the world. There are no destination limits, and we can ship a yacht around the world without any stress or effort on behalf of the owner.

What is the largest yacht to date that Sevenstar has shipped?

With the partnership of DYT, we have shipped a 130 meter (426 feet) yacht using one of the semi-submersible yacht carriers. On a lift-on, lift-off basis, the biggest yacht was 72 meters (236 feet).

Sevenstar transporting yachts on freight vessels

What do the liner services entail? How often are they used?

With such a large network of cargo vessels running on common routes and schedules throughout the world, Sevenstar offers passage to a yacht on one of these common shipping channels. The liner service allows for an even more flexible method for our clients to satisfy their transport needs.

Next to operating its own fleet, the liner team at Sevenstar has well-established relationships with a large number of both container lines and RO/RO operators, as well as a worldwide network of first class local suppliers and agents. This means that even more regular routes become available, which is very convenient for manufacturers and brokers.

Sevenstar recently acquired Complete Marine Northern Europe with a team of nine staff, securing a highly valued specialist in liner service built by Gerald Price and with offices based in the UK.

When did the Spliethoff Group purchase Dockwise? Briefly explain DYT’s role within the company? 

The Spliethoff Group purchased Dockwise Yacht Transport in October of 2013. The name changed to DYT Yacht Transport exclusively, without ties to Dockwise. DYT Yacht Transport has two semi-submersibles that are unique to yacht transport. Whereas other yacht transport companies use a series of heavy lift cranes to load and unload yachts, DYT is different. These unique vessels submerge, transforming into a marina where loading can be done safely and easily. DYT then de-ballasts the vessel to have the yachts rest in secured cribbing while on a floating dry dock, complete with power and water connections. The “float-on” process is then reversed for an equally safe “float-off” delivery of the yachts at their desired destinations.

Seven Star princess loading,southampton,8,3,14

What are the future plans and goals for Sevenstar over the next 10 years?

We see that yachts are getting larger, and we are regularly transporting yachts from 60 to 65 meters. In the years ahead, you will see us move yachts of up to 100 meters. In tandem with that, we will increasingly offer more and better services and new destinations. Currently, we transport 2,500 yachts a year. That is up from only 300 a year in 2000. In a decade from now, we will transport 3,000 to 4,000 yachts a year. We have no ambition to be an A-to-B freight forwarder; our specialty is transport over water to anywhere on company-owned freighters. In the future, we will acquire more yacht transport vessels that offer more flexibility and on-and-off-loading possibilities.

The strategy going forward also lies in exploring new markets and specialized niches that require highly skilled staff and knowledge. In the next 10 years, Sevenstar will be exploring exceptional-sized maritime vessels and equipment, as well as military vessels and specific business to business sections of the market.

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