Cantieri Navali di Sestri gives voice to a dream Montaldo: “With a refit we can bring the most beautiful memories back to life”
Interview with Fulvio Montaldo, owner of Cantieri Navali di Sestri, who explains to us the essence of refitting, which reignites the connection between an owner and his vessel, and why Covid increased demand
Refitting a boat allows you to dream twice. Or rather, giving voice to a dream, that of your own boat, returning to new splendour, re-evoking the beautiful moments spent on board.
Fulvio Montaldo is the owner of Cantieri Navali di Sestri in Genoa, one of the maximum experts in refitting in Italy and more. In this period, in the service area of the shipyard in Sestri Ponente it is busy, because the demand for ordinary and extraordinary maintenance has been a constant. Actually, with Covid the demand has increased.
Mister Montaldo, you are one of the top refitting experts. What does it really mean to refit a boat?
Refitting a boat means giving voice to a dream, bringing to life a dream, in the sense that a boat itself is a dream at any level; from a 4-5 metre fishing boat through to a huge yacht.
Refitting it, especially if it was your boat and you decide to bring it back to its ancient splendour, means giving life to your dream. An image that comes back to life. The more a boat is yours the more you feel it is yours, and this dream is the most important. The memories come back, the time spent on board, where some of the most beautiful instants take place. Bringing back to life memories of quiet moments, is worth all the effort of refitting a boat.
People often reason: “Boats are expensive, it is better to rent one.” But then everyone wants their own boat, because a boat isn’t only a means to go out to sea, a swim, or a drink on board. A boat is something that becomes a part of the owner, it belongs to him. It is true, for as much as someone uses a boat, especially over a certain size, it would be best to charter it. But it isn’t the same thing. And the pleasure of having a boat of your own is priceless.
What is the right mix between restoring the original beauty and charm of a vessel and innovation, given that from the year it was launched to now equipment, technology and construction techniques have evolved?
Refitting doesn’t mean bringing back old things, but it means restoring old things combining them with technology. The two things overlap quite easily. It is obvious that on a seventy-year-old Sangermani we won’t be putting up a carbon fibre mast, also because that boat was created with certain weights and characteristics. But technology keeps step.
All the hydraulics, systems, on even an old boat, allows us to use a lot of technology, including domotics. Compared to fifty years ago on board demands have changed: once a 10 KW generator was more than enough. Nowadays you need one of at least 30 KW, because you need to power the desalinators, the electric stove in the kitchen which is safer than gas, the air conditioning, and all those devices which were previously unknown. But even in refits there is technology.
When a boat owner turns to a shipyard to have a new boat built, he “dictates” all his demands to the designers. Does the same thing happen during a refit or is it you who has the “recipe” for restoring beauty to each vessel?
Often the owners listen to us, but if we are talking about refitting boats, from 20-25 metres and up, normally the owner has his own designer or an architect that we suggest. Usually, however, when they come to us they already have a pretty clear idea.
The first thing an owner approaches us for is for a quote. And we ask them: “What do you need?” Normally I ask for some guidelines to make a better quote. Then there are always surprises that come up during the works, but more often than not the quote is in line with the final work. On the technical side, they let us guide them, while on the interiors and furniture we let the owner choose everything.
Certainly Covid and all the restrictions that come with it have reignited the desire to go boating and, especially, on a safe holiday. Has this “trend” or “demand” affected the refit market or is it the opportunity to have a new boat built?
I wouldn’t know how to answer regarding new builds as we don’t work with those, but it certainly has affected refits, a word that leaves space for a number of considerations. Even ordinary and extraordinary maintenance, although not so in depth, is considered to be a refit.
For the used market, a number of people have decided to sell or buy even vessels that were at the very limits of being fixed. This summer people were afraid and didn’t have the opportunity to take traditional holidays and boating was almost the only outlet. The situation this summer pushed many to do those things that had been set aside in previous years. We noticed it a lot in our shipyard.