Building a Yacht in our "Covid World"

We live in changing times; what was once attributable to poor planning is now written off as "Covid-induced delays". Some of these delays are genuinely real; some are less so. Mark this, a good approach and healthy ability to network can overcome most. The expectation is we must accept that. Just roll over like a good dog. The trouble is we are not good dogs.


Given we are at the point of taking deliveries to almost everything mechanical, there seem to be a few holes in the inventory to create a functioning explorer yacht. This effect has been growing for a few months now. As in the children's "Whack-a-Mole" game, we have been playing with our many suppliers. Our story is how we approached this seemingly intractable problem of vague supply deadlines meeting immutable launch dates and the results. Let us remove specific names so that no one is overtly offended; we all have a common goal.


We were speaking firstly of suppliers. No one likes delivering bad news, and the typical modus is silence. So we set up a system to chase every critical supplier to confirm progress and delivery dates. Well, that was fun, and some tried hard to evade with answers most evasive. Don't accept them; try again or sometimes go up the tree of authority and ask a different way. This exercise resulted in a short list of suppliers classed as "at risk" or "a threat of failure." These suppliers had taken payment in part or full months before, which was pretty annoying.


There is a time to persuade, press, and threaten, but in most cases, this is never the time to insult. Insults only justify inaction, even if they temporarily make us feel better. So we discussed the art of the possible. Split deliveries? This approach worked with the drive line supplier. The Clutch, shaft, and bearings were delivered on time with props to follow some months later but before the launch date. With the hybrid drive system, they proposed three drops as production could cope: inverters and control gear, the second battery cases, the third batteries, and hopefully, drive motors. The motors were to a new design; we will accept demonstration units for the time being, then swap them out. The main engines were troublesome; they provided no date until we found two more to the exact specification sitting in the USA and threatened to purchase and airfreight them with a full refund. Engines miraculously appeared. Someone else probably found themselves in our previous position. Engine room fans were also a problem until the supplier suggested a change in specification to an in-house manufactured unit, and we were back on track. In only one instance were we unable to compromise our way to success. The supplier of solar panels, Fly Solartech. They took the payment and appeared to have gone out of business. No one wishes that to happen, but neither do they like being lied to while it's happening. We resourced through a company local to the yard in Turkey.


So where are we now? I think (fingers crossed) that we will be very close to the expected launch date of March 2023. We have retained professional relationships with our suppliers. We will need those suppliers to commission and support ongoing. The effects of Covid and world events are real and now engrained in the supply chain. But it is not the end of everything, just a new normal.


Chris Leigh-Jones



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