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Orams Marine’s operations manager, Richard Low translated his successful career onboard yachts into a role within the Auckland refit yard. Now enjoying his thriving work life on-land, he describes how his crew experience gave insight into streamlining the refit process and shares his tips on making a successful move ashore.

As the superyacht hub of the South Pacific, Orams Marine’s team knows the importance of seeing a refit run smoothly. With that in mind, the central Auckland shipyard’s project managers bring a range of skills with them to the job; often including a background as superyacht captain or senior crew, ensuring they understand the needs of both crew and yacht during refit.


Leading the team is operations manager, Richard Low. His onboard career spanned 20 years with  refits within that time across Europe and the United States, as well as places further off the beaten track.

“Those experiences gave me a wide overview of how refit is done and billed all around the world as a customer. I also had the advantage of coming from a shipyard engineering trade background, prior to going to sea,” says Low.


“Bringing both of those experiences together has allowed me to bring a very balanced approach to our management at Orams Marine and allows us to try and provide for our customers as I would have expected when I was on the other side of the fence. With a fair and reasonable approach at all times.”


As the operations manager of the shipyard, Low has a broad role that encompasses everything from sales and costing of new work, managing staff, troubleshooting issues and design on vessels, managing projects, right down to working on the tools when necessary to get the job done.

Utilising that extensive onboard experience has become one of the instruments Orams Marine uses to assist crew in the yard for a refit period.


“I think it allows us as a yard to be more understanding of the difficulties faced by the crew running the yacht and the level of detail and respect that is required by our team. It also helps to know what the things you build or repair will have to go through when they go to sea.”


“Many of our crew have, at some stage in their career, spent time aboard as crew and/or sailed their own yachts and I think that’s often a part of the kiwi boatbuilding culture which draws yachts to our shores for their refits.”


However there’s one skill that Low says is the same whether onshore or onboard:


“Staff management!”


There are some stand-out bonuses with working within a land-based role, which Low highlights, saying one thing in particular is the best part about being onshore.


“I get to go home to my family each night!”

“For me it has always been about the people you work with. We’ve got a good team and we always try and have a laugh. Every day is different and every yacht brings a new challenge and problem to solve.”


“I was a captain and fleet manager when I finished up at sea. Children ultimately dictated the move ashore, but I think everyone knows when it’s time.”


Low says one of the key things for crew to look forward to when moving ashore is starting to live their own life and making their own plans and, though there are some hard elements, ultimately it’s worth it.


“I think the hardest thing that yacht crew have to face today when they move ashore is taking that reality check back to land-based wages and a taxable income. It’s just a fact of life and once you’ve made the jump you find rewards in other areas of your life that far outweigh the income.”


Using his onboard experience to ensure crew have an efficient time in the yard during their refit – and a rewarding time when they’re off the clock – are just two of the perks Low has found in his land-based role.


Orams Marine has a number of positions available within the refit shipyard which are suitable for experienced superyacht crew ready to make the move ashore. Contact Richard Low to learn more [email protected]