Vessel Vanguard, boats in a marina, slips

There isn’t a boat in this photo that wouldn’t benefit from a subscription to Vessel Vanguard.

Boats have never been as complex as they are today. Many generate their own electricity, make their own water, dispose of their own waste, have satellite and telecommunications and so much more. With 100s of systems, parts, and complex maintenance schedules, keeping track of everything can be a bit of a nightmare.

Vessel Vanguard, a subsidiary of Baxter Marine Group, was built to help take the headache out of boat ownership and protect the value of your assets. The software platform contains tools for managing a preventative maintenance schedule, tracking spare parts, accessing digital owner’s manuals, managing documents, creating custom forms, and more.

The Back Story

Rick Heine, the founder of Baxter Marine Group, spent 17 years in the aviation industry, building software to help business jet operators manage their maintenance, inventory, and flight operations. In 2020, Rick sold his business and decided to enter the marine industry.

As a lifelong boater, he knew the headaches that came with boat ownership and maintenance and felt like there was an opportunity to bring his experience from aviation software and service into marine. He formed Baxter Marine Group, which acquired software providers Vessel Vanguard and Wheelhouse Technologies, as well as damage control product providers SeaKits and TruPlug — all of which operate under one company today, led by Rick’s son and partner in the business, Greg Heine. 

“The marine industry has operated on a bit of an ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it approach’, typically waiting for an equipment failure before dealing with it,” said Rick Heine, “We decided that we have an opportunity to make boats as reliable as aircraft.”

Vessel Vanguard

To keep all of your equipment in working condition, staying on top of preventative maintenance is key. A 65’ (19.81 m) boat may have 150+ scheduled inspections coming due by calendar or hourly driven requirements.

The Platform

The Vessel Vanguard PRO platform was built to meet the needs of yacht owners, yacht managers, and commercial operators. Whether you have a single boat or a fleet, the system is very flexible and highly configurable to work for most types of operations. 

The system is cloud-based and gives users access through their web browsers as well as on iPhone and iPad applications, which also provide some offline capabilities for when you may not have wifi, cellular or satellite coverage. 

When users log into the platform, they will land on the VV PRO Dashboard, giving them instant visibility into what is going on with their boat or fleet. From here, they can update their runtimes, see what maintenance is coming due, record a corrective maintenance event, build a work order, or fill out a custom form. 

Vessel Vanguard Pro 2022

Users can easily access and update vessel information from the web or their mobile application.

Users can easily drill down into the equipment on board their boat, instantly getting details on models, serial numbers, owners' manuals, warranties, and notes. In case an issue arises, having all of this information available can save a significant amount of time in getting a repair completed. Each piece of equipment can also have a preventative maintenance scheduled associated with it, and users can easily see a full historical breakdown of any maintenance completed on the boat. Having all of this information in one place can be extremely valuable when it comes time to selling your boat. 

Getting Started

Building out all of the equipment on your boat along with a comprehensive maintenance schedule and all of the documentation can be a heavy lift for many boat owners, but Vessel Vanguard can take care of the bulk of this work for you through their enhanced enrollment process. “We need some basic details about our customer’s boats – configuration, makes and models, quantities and locations of major equipment,” said Greg Heine, CEO of Vessel Vanguard. “From there, we build out the boat’s profile, including the equipment and owner’s manuals, as well as the maintenance tasks which may be manufacturer recommended or based on industry best practices.” Users then have the ability to add, remove or edit tasks based on their preferences. 

Since most boats in larger categories have a number of customizations, the team at Vessel Vanguard will typically set up an intro call to talk through your operation, vessels, current status of the records, etc. and will create a project plan to get your boat online. 

Who’s Who

Vessel Vanguard has partnered with many boat manufacturers who supply the subscription to the service with their new models. The list of partners includes Formula Boats, Summit Yachts, Kady Krogen, Krogen Express, Outer Reef, Knysna Yachts, Xquisite Yachts and others. 

Outer Reef Yachts and Vessel Vanguard

All new Outer Reef Yachts are delivered with Vessel Vanguard. Outer Reef’s CEO & President was quoted “We have seen a direct correlation with resale value and the use of Vessel Vanguard.”

They have also partnered with BoatTEST contributor Steve D’Antonio, an American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) Master Technician, to offer a pre-purchase inspection program for boats. He goes through a boat and points out anything that could be an issue or become one down the road. The Vessel Vanguard website has a full library of D’Antonio’s videos and articles on a variety of subjects ranging from oil testing and analysis to corrosion prevention and improving boat performance.

Steve D'Antonio Marine Consulting, SteveD Marine

Noted marine industry expert Steve D’Antonio has partnered with Vessel Vanguard to offer his knowledge to subscribers. He’s also a contributor to BoatTEST.