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Bluewater Craft: The Best In The Pacific

Bluewater Craft: The Best In The Pacific
Bluewater Craft owner Chris Tsantihos (Junior) in Navua. Photo: Jona Konataci
June 03
07:55 2015

Nestled alongside the sleepy Navua River and only a 40-minute drive from Suva, is a place where a design and boat building company, Bluewater Craft (Fiji) calls home.

The Bluewater Craft is now a fast growing company as it now builds its reputation internationally for building quality boats at a cost-effective price.

For over 20 years the team at Bluewater Craft has steadily and continuously honed their boat building expertise by conceptualising the concept, designing it by computer and then painstakingly building each boat piece-by- piece and taking an idea from the original concept and forging it into reality.

The business has grown over the years to become a successful name not only in Fiji but in the Pacific, as well

Meet the owner

And the man behind this success is 57- year-old Chris Tsantikos, a naval architect by profession. He has had close to 40 years of experience in designing and building boats around the world.

Originally from Volos, Greece, and with a passion for the sea, Mr Tsantikos studied to become a qualified naval architect B.Sc. at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

Once he graduated, he travelled the world and went on to gain extensive experience in naval design and building.

However, a chance to visit Fiji to build the cruise ship Reef Endeavour introduced him to the country that he would eventually fall in love with.

And recognising a need to have locally built boats, he then decided to set-up in Navua and take on designing and building his own boats.

His aim was to supply boats that are specifically developed to meet the needs of the Pacific islanders.

Products, clients

Since setting up their site in Navua, Bluewater Craft has successfully designed, built and launched over 100 steel and aluminum boats.

Using the most up-to-date cutting and construction techniques, the company prides themselves in their strong, stable, safe and fuel efficient designs.

Chris Tsantikos Junior, the only son of the business owner says, that because their prices are so competitive there is an increasing demand for their boats from all around the Pacific.

“My father designed the boat himself. Normally the client will come and explain to him what they need the boat for and he will design the boat specifically for their needs,” Mr Tsantihos Junior said.

“We have had clients from New Caledonia, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga and other Pacific Island countries that came in with their needs and we were able to meet their requirements.

Apart from the Pacific island countries, most of our orders are from local hotels and resorts.”

The company is capable of building inter- island landing barges which are perfect for moving equipment and resources across the Pacific.

This is available in different sizes up to 50 metres in length and according to the company.

These designs are favourite choice for those wanting a reliable transport work horse.

Other fleets the company specialises on include long line fishing vessels, diesel powered passenger catamaran, pilot boats, dinghies, river boats, long boat range, lagoon boat range, game fisher, dive boats and aluminum barge.

“What sets us apart from other companies is that we build our boats from the raw materials. We cut everything on our own instead of ordering the readymade pieces from overseas. In exchange, it makes work easier and fast for us instead of waiting for the pieces to arrive from abroad and it will be more hassle if there are lot of changes needed,” Mr Tsantihos Junior said.

Employing locals

The company has nine employees who are responsible for building crafts.

Mr Tsantihos Junior said with these staff, the company was able to build at least four vessels at a time.

“Most of the workers here are just from the neighbourhood. Salesh, here, has been with us since the company started in 2000. He was just a local fisherman and now he is our top fabricator,” he said.

“Majority came in with no experience or qualifications but the company is able to teach them the basics and they are now skillful workers.”

Apart from building new boats, Mr Tsantihos Junior says the employees are also kept busy repairing local boats especially those built by their competitors.

“If there are people out there who are not aware of our existence then they bank on us for their vessel needs instead of spending more money buying vessels from abroad.”

Business expansion

The company is seriously considering venturing out to have its own inter- island shipping business servicing the maritime islands.

Mr Tsantihos Junior said they plan to build their own boats to cater for the shipping demands in maritime islands.

“We want the shipping services in Fiji to have a routine like the bus service which is the reason why we want to build our own boats to service the islands,” he said.

“Take for example, Kadavu is being serviced twice a week by shipping companies and we want to come in and have a daily service to generate economic activities and help the people.”

He said that the company is now working on a catamaran passenger boat to service the Yasawa islands.

“If everything goes according to plan then we will be able to do this. But we guarantee that the fare prices will be low and affordable to the people. The boats are being built locally so we are not going to demand for more from the people,” Mr Tsantikos Junior added.

 

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