Port Denarau is rapidly emerging as more than a tourism hub. It now has a world-standard boatyard to go with the shopping, dining and marina facilities that make it so popular.
It is providing a full range of boatyard facilities to help attract and service the growing number of cruising yachts and superyachts heading for our waters. It is also providing jobs for an increasing number of workers, up to 300 directly or indirectly already.
Managing Director, Nigel Skeggs has told the Fiji Sun how Port Denarau Marina staff have worked tirelessly in the past couple of years to ensure that the boatyard reaches the standards sought.
Port Denarau Marina boatyard unveils new facilities
“I am very proud of the achievements we have made to date as well as the ongoing commitment to excellence from both tenants and contractors,” he said.
“We are receiving great feedback and there is currently a substantial amount of work being carried out on local and international boats providing huge benefits to the greater community.”
The shipyard has just completed a full upgrade to bring all equipment up to international standards as they are predicting that future demands will be greater than at present.
The yard has been around for quite a while, but it was a very rudimentary facility capable of only handling small vessels and there was only a limited supply of services that had the skill levels required by the marine industry.
The fledgling marina was then taken over by the current owners and a development plan was agreed. In the next nine years a great deal of money was spent to create the marine services facility that exists at Port Denarau Marina today.
And the owners continue to invest heavily in both further development and in the maintenance and upgrading of the existing equipment. The function of any marine yard begins with what is termed in the marine industry as “lifting out”. This is taking a vessel out of the water and placing it in a position that allows for work to be carried out.
At Port Denarau vessels up to a total weight of 50 tonnes are lifted with a variety of specialised equipment.
For the maximum lifts there is a piece of equipment called a travel lift. It has a steel tower structure that is supporting two heavy slings which are lowered under the vessel parked in the lift bay. Engines built into the structure wind in the slings lifting the boat out of the water.
Then other engines drive the wheels and the vessel is moved to a convenient place in the hard stand area. A series of specialised props are placed under the vessel and the lift clears the area so that work can commence.
There is a variety of different lifting equipment used to perform special tasks, including one that can lift small boats up to twenty-five feet in the air and place them in dry storage racks.
CHETTY TO AUSTRALIA
So important is the lifting function that the company is sending its foreman, Vinay Chetty, to undertake a course at Gold Coast City Marina in Australia to be certified to international standard.
On his return he will have to control 20 travel-lift operations, all of which must be videotaped and logged. He will then return to Australia and checked out by the Australian marine institute to earn an internationally recognised qualification. Once the vessel is on the hard stand and appropriately supported with props it is ready for work. With cruising yachts the owner and the crew carry out a lot of the work. But there are many activities that require highly qualified trades people and it is here that the Port Denarau infrastructure comes into its own.
Within the five-acre compound there are a number of businesses that are available for contract work in specific areas of marine applications.
All these contractors are separate businesses from the shipyard and all have their own employees. They are required to be registered with the yard and have their qualifications verified and only registered businesses are allowed to operate within the yard.
Every company is given a full briefing on the health and safety requirements within the workplace and are subject to an annual review by the Department of Labour.
These contractors offer a wide range of services including painting, fibreglass repair, sail making and sail repair, mechanical and electrical engineering, rigging, steel, stainless steel and aluminium welding and all types of timber fabrication.
There are also hydraulic engineers, outboard motor specialists, radio and radar engineers and instrument specialists.
The international standard is that about ten percent of a boat’s value is spent each year on the maintenance of the vessel.
This makes the potential income for Fiji from these actives immense, and most of the money goes to the contractors working within the shipyard. Only a small portion is retained by the operators, While in the marina and yard the yachts also spend a considerable amount on daily living, again boosting the Fiji economy. Another part of the yard business is the storage of boats and to do this there are a number of solutions. For small boats there is a dry storage rack where boats at placed on specially designed shelves by a forklift, stacked up to four vertically. At the back of the hard stand area there is a storage stand for vessels that will be left on the dry for a relatively short period before being put in the water again.
Some cruising sailors want to sail for half the year and leave their yachts in Fiji during the cyclone season, before returning home. They then come back when the weather is good again and return to their travels.
To cater for this segment the shipyard has cyclone holes, pits into which the yacht keel is lowered, leaving the yacht safely standing with the topsides above ground and protected from the weather. There are many new land developments in the area such as Naisoso Island and Fantasy island, where there are numerous moorings being created and all these will create work.
The Superyacht visits to Fiji are also predicted to grow strongly and again excellent business will be created for the yard.
The shipyard provides a lot of employment in the Nadi area. The businesses registered with the yard have over three hundred permanent employees and the businesses also need support from other people outside the yard for special projects.
The yard operators are also very conscious of their obligations to protect the environment, especially as some of the liquids used need to be handled carefully.
All water drainage in the five acres is to a central pit where it is cleared of all oil contaminants before being released to the general environment.
Best international practices are used in all areas to ensure that everything is being done to minimise any negative impact. The company subscribes to the NZ based “Clean Green Marina” programme.