The Charter Captain and the APA
A yacht charter can be the best vacation experience of a lifetime. The manner in which the Captain manages the distribution and reconciliation of the Advanced Provisioning Allowance is critical to the long term satisfaction of the charter client.
By Rupert Connor
The captain of a charter yacht is navigator, concierge, accountant, host and employee. An experienced charter captain must balance the demands of owner, broker, and guest in order to achieve a long term reputation for the yacht and him or herself within the charter industry.
Owners decide to place vessels into the charter market with the intent to recoup some portion of the cost of investment. To boost demand for the vessel – and hence the potential income - the charter broker, captain/crew, and the owner must work in concert to maximize the experience of each guest.
The Captain is responsible for all funds from the Advanced Provisioning Allowance (APA) spent by any crew member. Confusion or disagreement with the final reconciliation of the APA is the most common source of dissatisfaction with the yacht charter experience. Attention to detail and verification of preferences with the charter broker are the most direct way to avoid future dissatisfaction and ensure repeat clients.
Per standard charter agreement, the captain shall exercise due diligence in the expenditure of the APA and advise the charterer - at intervals - as to the disbursement and balance. Key areas to manage with detail:
- Stocking beverage preferences
- The guest preference sheet often requires clarification as to amounts of individual beverages – especially expensive wines and liquor.
- Purchase location of provisions.
- If the vessel is in Fort Lauderdale, but initiating the charter in the Bahamas, provisioning will be more economical in FTL.
- Use of an agent (and the added cost) to provision is generally not necessary if adequate turn around and planning is done. The yacht's busy schedule is not reason to pay a premium for provisions.
- Fuel should be purchased at the lowest purchase point available.
- Duty free options for fuel savings should be utilized as permitted.
There are occasions when the owner’s use of the vessel can create a conflict for the efficiency of service and provisioning for the charter client. Areas of potential misuse of the APA to be avoided are:
- Port fees prior to the inception of the charter
- Dockage fees or crew hours incurred during the process of provisioning
- Owner costs, or yacht maintenance charges slipping into the charter expenses
- Cost plus calculations....expenses are to be charged to the client at cost
Communication by the captain involving the APA is essential. Inclusion of information regarding the charge rate for internet usage and frequency of APA status reports during the initial welcome aboard is advisable. Routine communication with the guest is an opportunity to explain how an itinerary change, provisioning request or shore service may impact the APA balance.
At the conclusion of charter the reconciliation presented by the Captain to the charter client should include detail to avoid future disputes over balances due. Details include:
- Receipts for expenditures
- Internet/communications charges based on initial quoted rate and accuracy calculated
- Written quotes for any cleaning or repair charges incurred
- Any delayed invoicing for agents presented with a collection deadline
- Final refueling projection driven by fuel guidelines previously noted. Engineer should provide tank soundings at charter start and end.
There have been occasions of Captains manipulating the reconciliation report to the guest in an effort to solicit the APA balance as a tip. The charter broker holds the responsibility of educating the guest about the practice of gratuities. The short term satisfaction of an immediate crew tip has the potential to negatively impact the long term charter business of the vessel.
Steady bookings and repeat business are the common target for the charter crew, vessel owner and charter broker. That is a shared responsibility. The Charter broker must have fully vetted the guest, the owner must hire the best crew and competitively reimburse, and the captain must manage the crew to exceed expectations. At Luxury Yacht Group, the charter brokers have established relationships with charter captains to assure the communication of the details, assuring charter guest satisfaction.