When is a boat a workboat?

I left for the Passenger Vessel Association Annual Convention in Tampa, Fla., a week ago Tuesday. Since then, I have been making my way to Miami for the Miami International Boat Show which begins today.

Among those we’ve stopped in to see since Friday were St. Johns Ship Building, Palatka (near Jacksonville), Lazer Photonics Corp., Orlando, Advanced Mechanical Enterprises and Motor Services Hugo Stamp in Fort Lauderdale, and Derecktor in Dania Beach.

Some of the chartered yachts that come into the yard for repairs work as many as 8-10 months a year. Ken Hocke photo

Derecktor was nice enough to give me a tour of the Dania Beach yard, which does repairs only. I’ve walked through quite a few commercial shipyards in the last 22 years. This one didn’t look much different, except instead of OSVs, ferries, tugs, towboats, ATBs and the like, the shipyard’s workers were repairing 70′-200′ yachts. Working boats.

“We call ourselves a full-on working shipyard. We are a full service yard with multiple boats and multiple customers,” said Derecktor project manager Mark Russell. “We’re not a resort shipyard or a destination yard.”

There were boats throughout the property, many of them getting painted in addition to other services. For example, there was a boat, about a 100-footer, wrapped in a cocoon of white tarp getting a new paint job. Cost, I asked? “For that boat just under $1 million,” said Russell. “It costs about $60,000 to $80,000 just to remove all the deck hardware,” he said. It also takes weeks just to erect the scaffolding.

Russel has worked at the yard for the past 14 years. “But I came to this yard for many years before that as a customer and as a subcontractor,” he said. “This yard has about 80% repeat customers.”

Russell said some of the yard’s repeat customers own boats that are used only by the owners themselves, “but most of the boats are chartered,” he said.

So, why wouldn’t a chartered yacht that uses a crew to perform a job for a client not be considered a workboat like any other chartered passenger vessel that uses a crew to perform a job for a client? “I don’t know,” said Russell.

I don’t know either.

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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