Building a new yacht – interview with Nick Stratton of Simpson Marine

The organisers of the Singapore and Thailand Yacht Show caught up with Nick Stratton, Country Sales Manager for Simpson Marine Singapore, and spoke with him about some of the key points to consider when building a yacht.

SYS: Nick, what is the first step in building a yacht and how does a client decide which builder to approach?

NS: Make sure you contact a yacht broker that has extensive experience to properly advise you.

SYS: Can the client approach a builder directly without already having hired a yacht broker?

NS: Of course, this can certainly be done; the possible inconvenience is that you might not always receive a correct overview of the yacht-building market in general and only focus on one particular shipyard.

SYS: Do the yards design the yachts? If not, can they help the client choose a designer?

NS: Most yacht building shipyards do have in house design capabilities, but do also have preferential contacts with renowned designers which they work within collaborations and close partnership.

SYS: How long does a yacht take to build and how much will it cost?

NS: The build time of a yacht can vary from 1- 4 years in case of a fully custom-built yacht; more standard designed yachts can be delivered within 1 to 2 years. In some cases, this can be faster if, for example, you are purchasing a more production-based yacht. Another important factor is the availability of the build slots that can substantially influence the build time.

SYS: Do I pay for the yacht when it is finished or in stages?

NS: No yacht builder will accept full payment upon delivery. Since the shipyard needs to pay for its own staff, subcontractors and suppliers as from the start of the project, stage payments will always apply.

SYSWhat is the difference between custom yachts and series yachts in terms of cost and speed of build, and how does a client know which option is right for me?

NS: In relation to the speed of build, see answer 4. Some owners want to have their own designed yacht to be built and others can agree with ‘standard platforms’ and customized interiors. Sanlorenzo is a good example of a yard able to offer both options - those that are happy to just design the interior can have a yacht designed much faster based on a hull that is already in production. Needless to say that there is an important cost price difference involved.

SYS: How much input can the client expect to have into the interior decoration of the yacht?

NS: The interior can be fully customized, either with the assistance of the yard’s design team or a third party designer. This is when you can really have fun with the yacht and make it unique, and really call it your own.

SYS: If a yacht is built in a shipyard outside China, can it be brought in to cruise or stay here permanently?

NS: Of course, but some importation taxes are applicable. It is recommended to find this out beforehand and Simpson Marine can advise on all aspects.

SYS: How much will the yacht cost to run?

NS: The running costs of a yacht do very much depend on the crew costs and the number of days that the yacht is being used for cruising.

SYS: What is the maximum number of guests a yacht can have onboard?

NS: The number of guests onboard is depending on the size of the yacht and whether the yacht is engaged in private or commercial trade. Many yachts do have a capacity for max. 12 guests. Strict safety regulations need to be respected according to Flag State and local authorities.

SYS: What is the typical guest vs crew ratio?

NS: This is very much to the discretion of the owner. It is common to see a one to one ratio on a larger yacht.

SYS: What can be done to stop guests from getting seasick while onboard? Is this an issue for a lot of owners?

NS: Many yachts are equipped with stabilizers, even effective at zero speed. A good captain can also adapt his course and speed to make it more comfortable for the guests onboard.

SYS: Are there any differences between building a private yacht, and a yacht that the owner may want to charter out? Can he/she change their mind?

NS: Yachts involved in commercial trade, also known as charter, do need to respond to stricter rules and regulations. Switching from one to another is not always possible without having to carry out major modifications.

SYS: Do different builders build different types of yachts? Can anyone build a catamaran? Or a sailing yacht?

NS: In theory, everyone can build any type of yacht. Many yacht builders have become specialists and focus on their know-how. Some bigger brands offer both, often the result of mergers and acquisitions over the years.

To find out more about Simpson Marine's Superyacht division, please visit: and to get in touch with Nick, please email: [email protected]