This section describes the steps typically followed in the process of design, construction, and commissioning of a Florida Bay Coaster. Each of these steps is further developed in detail once a prospect begins the journey to becoming an Owner. These are Process & Project Management services provided by the Florida Bay Coaster Company.
Quality Assurance & Value Engineering
Throughout the design and project management process are specific Quality Assurance steps undertaken by the Florida Bay Coaster Company, acting as the Owner’s advocate. By establishing quality objectives early in the process, and monitoring the progress and quality along the entire design, construction, fit-out, and commissioning process of the vessel, excellent quality is maintained and expensive re-work is avoided. The value of these efforts will last for the life of the vessel.
The Florida Bay Coaster Company also applies the discipline of on-going Value Engineering in the Quality Assurance process. This approach maximizes the overall value to the Owner by monitoring the cost/benefit of key decisions as the vessel is being created. The result of this process is savings both in actual and avoided costs and increased value and quality throughout the vessel.
Working closely with the architect, the Benford Design Group, and the project manager, the prospective Owner explores their space needs, cruising aspirations, budget, and together choose a hull size and general arrangement with which to begin the design selection process.
Option Selection & Design Process
Within a particular hull size there may be various styles or models including Coaster, Tramp, Freighter, and others. Each has several pre-designed interior layouts to consider, and the Owner and the Benford Design Group compare the advantages of each and combine options and accommodations to create the exact yacht to meet the Owner’s needs.
Within the vessel’s systems and infrastructure are many options that are then explored to determine the most appropriate propulsion, steering, electrical systems, navigation and communication systems, etc. These choices combine to develop a more complete profile of the custom vessel. The construction budget is verified at this point as a reality check.
Drawings & Specifications
The Benford Design Group then begins to develop the specific, customized construction drawings for this particular Owner’s ship. The result of this effort is a set of blueprints and specifications which convey the architects design intentions in a form that can be used by a ship builder to construct the vessel.
There are two categories of drawings and specifications that the Benford Design Group produces. The first is the structural drawing set which detail the steel hull and cabin construction, plus the powering and steering systems.
The second set of drawings and specifications that the Benford Design Group produces are the interior accommodations designs and the systems. Together, these documents describe the complete vessel.
It is also at this point when the Owner arranges for Construction Financing; this is frequently using their own resources.
Hull & Motorway Construction
The Florida Bay Coaster Company then makes arrangements to have the vessel constructed. The work is negotiated with one of several boatyards experienced in building Florida Bay Coasters or similar vessels. The choice is made based on their current workload and production schedule, cost, and level of experience with a vessel of this particular size and complexity.
The builder lays the keel and begins forming the hull and interior structural elements. The raw steel is prepared and coated; a critical process that contributes significantly to the maintenance issues and life of the hull. The engine, steering, propulsion, tankage, and main electrical systems are then put into place.
There are hundreds of steps in the project management process and the first completion milestone is when the vessel is ready for it’s “Builder’s Certificate”. This is when the hull is complete along with all of the major structural elements of the decks and superstructure including windows, interior walls and bulkheads, etc. The engine(s) are installed, navigation lights, fuel systems, steerage, etc. all complete and working.
At this stage, the vessel can be cruised on her own bottom; she’s a real boat! She is “legal”, meeting all applicable US Coast Guard and American Boat & Yacht Council standards, and has her “Papers”. In addition to having a Builder’s Certificate, she can also receive her US Coast Guard Documentation Number at this stage of completion.
However, please note that she will not look complete on the inside, as the interiors are most probably just painted steel. There are no bunks, no furnishings, no “soft systems” such as galley, head, entertainment systems, etc.
It is at this stage of completion that construction financing can be converted to a regular mortgage/loan, as well. If the Owner has provided the construction financing through the motorway stage (as is frequently the case), then the proceeds from this financing can be used to pay for the interior fit-out and commissioning of the vessel.
As a quality control step, several times in the hull and motorway construction, the Project Manager, a qualified marine surveyor, and the Benford Design Group will make detailed inspections of the completed work. The process is documented with photographs as well as checklists to ensure the Owner of the builder’s compliance not only with the drawings and specifications, but also to Coast Guard standards, American Boat & Yacht Council requirements, and industry standards. All variations from the design documents are noted on the drawings for future reference and to develop as-built documents for the Owner at Commissioning.
Interior Fit-out & Systems
This is the stage where the vessel receives the interior millwork, furnishings, soft systems, galley, head, fixtures, etc. This work may be undertaken by the same builder of the motorway stage, or it may be performed by another boatyard, depending on production schedules and nature of the work.
Some Owners may elect to ship their vessel to another country for the interior fit-out, or some very talented and adventurous Owners may want to complete some of all of the fit-out themselves.
The cost of finishes in the interior fit-out and nature and extent of the systems is very wide. Some Coasters are detailed so well that one cannot tell that the accommodations are on a sea going vessel and not in a Manhattan penthouse apartment. Others are finished in a more “salty” and simple manner. It’s all up to the Owner’s tastes and pocketbook.
As a quality control step again, the Project Manager, surveyor, and/or the Benford Design Group will inspect the work to ensure that industry workmanship standards and design documents are complied with. All variations from the design documents are again noted on the drawings for future reference.
As a quality control step, a survey is typically performed at this point by a qualified marine surveyor to provide an extra set of eyes and ensure compliance with the US Coast Guard requirements and the American Boat & Yacht Council Guidelines.
As the interior fit-out is being completed, the Commissioning process begins. This is a detailed inspection of the completed vessel by the Project Manager, Surveyor, and the Benford Design Group that includes all structural, mechanical, electrical, soft systems and interior work. All earlier variations lists are reconciled and the result includes a “punch list” of usually minor work that the builder is required to perform to bring the vessel to 100% completion.
The vessel is then taken for a sea trial by the surveyor. All of the functions of the propulsion, navigation, electrical, and safety systems are checked for proper operation during this shakedown cruise.
The formal survey report is then prepared, and provides an official blessing and an updated formal appraisal of the vessel’s value. This document is required by most banks and insurance companies when the mortgage is being arranged.
As a Quality Assurance feature, a complete set of documents are prepared including accurate as-built drawings, systems drawings, operations and maintenance instructions, etc. all specifically prepared and compiled for each vessel.