Local Boat Builder Gaining Attention From Export Markets

Cobra Marine, a totally Fijian owned boat yard located in Wailoaloa, Nadi, is making a big impact on the export boat market. They have built a number of special purpose
19 Mar 2016 09:00
Local Boat Builder Gaining Attention From Export Markets
Catamaran built by Cobra Marine at Wailoaloa…Sailed to Port Vila after Cyclone Winston

Cobra Marine, a totally Fijian owned boat yard located in Wailoaloa, Nadi, is making a big impact on the export boat market.

They have built a number of special purpose vessels for export and the demand is now showing signs of solid growth.

This is not only good news for the company but also for Fiji, as it has the potential to be a very good foreign exchange earner.

It allows Dave Bloxham, the company owner, to provide direct employment for 14 trades people and to run an apprenticeship programme to grow the skill base of aluminium welders in Fiji.

The apprentice programme is under the control of Russell Atu, believed to be the only welder in Fiji certified to New Zealand marine standards.

Another important benefit is that all vessels built in the Cobra yard are certified to New Zealand marine standard.

This level of certification has been of significant assistance in gaining the number of export orders the yard has already supplied.

Last year Cobra Marine built a vessel for the tourist market in Vanuatu. It has gained such a reputation for the quality of the workmanship and for its performance that other orders have followed.

This vessel was a unique designed glass bottom coral and reef viewing boat to get tourists in Vanuatu up close to the magnificent coral and the abundant sea life this area is famous for.

The latest export vessel was designed by Cobra’s New Zealand designer, Noah Thompson to very exacting specifications.

The owner wanted a boat that could be used for deep ocean rescue and for below water work on the many cruise liners and cargo ships that visit Port Vila.

It needed to provide a large, stable work area on deck but also bad to be fast through the water and to handle well in any sea conditions.

This is a combination of requirements not easily combined in a single vessel.

The result of Noah’s work was a catamaran that was 9.5 metres in length and 4.5 metres wide.

The power is supplied by twin 115 hp Yamahas will give a top speed 24 knots and a comfortable cruising speed of 16 knots.

There is good weather cover for the crew and the wheel house provides the high level of visibility required in the sort of operations the vessel is designed to carry out.

When the vessel was completed the owner, Matthew Grimley of Performance Marine, Port Vila, came to Fiji and participated in the sea trials on Nadi Bay.

He was delighted with the end result and told Dave that he planned to take delivery of the vessel in Fiji and take it by sea, under its own power, to Port Vila.

This would involve a distance in the open sea of around 540 nautical miles and both Dave and the new owner were totally confident that the boat could easily handle that.

As well as the two inbuilt fuel tanks with 250 litres of fuel in each, an additional 1200 litres would be loaded aboard in 200 litre containers.

The new motors were run in over 4 days cruising on Nadi Bay and serviced in preparation for the long trip.

The vessel left Fiji on 27th February, just a week after the severe cyclone Winston had passed through, travelling in the same direction.

This would give them following seas for the entire trip, although at four metres most of the time, the seas were a little higher than they expected.

After travelling for three days and two nights they arrived into Port Vila at 7 pm to be greeted by a welcoming committee of family, relatives and friends. Throughout the trip -boat had performed perfectly

Throughout the trip the boat had performed perfectly.

Matt Grimley of Performance Marine Commercial Diving Services in Vanuatu said “Cobra Boats, Nadi, Fiji is to be commended for the construction and customization of a new aluminum catamaran built for Performance Marine Commercial Diving Services in Vanuatu.

The aluminum hull was built to a very high standard with an enormous attention to detail.

From the beginning of the build project right up until the departure for Vanuatu, we found Dave, Russel and the construction team to be friendly, flexible and hard working.

The new vessel has been named MV Ocean-Rose and is without a doubt the Rolls Royce of aluminum vessels in Vanuatu!

We believe she is the second vessel to be imported into Vanuatu from Fiji under the new Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement.

With reasonable prices, no duty and a special kind of service from Cobra Boats that stretched out all the way to customs, immigration, first engine service and fueling up for the passage.

We would like to thank Dave and his team for their professionalism and a great product.”

Dave Bloxham is proud that the vessel took the long sea journey in its stride and that it will become yet another example of the quality and strength that is represented by the Cobra brand.

And he believes the export market for high quality vessels out of Fiji will continue to grow strongly.

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