by Jeni Bone
Originally operating the ferry between the Gold Coast and Couran Cove for 13 years, now established in Thailand, Gold Coast Ships is manufacturing custom-built ferries for international export.
Calypso operating in Port Douglas
Operating from Brisbane and with a shipyard in Thailand, Gold Coast Ferries offers a choice of ferry, water taxi and charter vessels. 'Any type of commercial and private vessels from 6m up to 42m. We specialise in high speed ferries and offshore crew vessels, as well as water taxis.'
They have designed a 'blueprint' for a public ferry service for the Gold Coast. 'This work included consulting with the local government on route design, fare structure, revenue projection as well as vessel and pontoon design. Now with our experienced building team in Thailand we can tailor design vessels to suit your needs or choose from the vast variety of vessel designs.'
The team includes director, Craig McKay, along with a group of designers including Paul Birgan and other well-known Australian naval architects.
'The build is 100% supervised by Australians,' says Craig, adding that the Thai government offered the company an incentive package to locate the business there.
'The local labour is trained and highly skilled, we use high tech equipment and we fly Australian surveyors up here to conduct the checks. We are building for the international market, so there’s no corners cut!'
The advantage is owners can save a lot on labour and construction, but the Australian industry is not missing out, as Craig explains. 'We purchase most of our aluminium in Australia and cut it, as well as all the fitout items from Australia. We are actually give them export sales they would otherwise not have had.'
Australian Ambassador to Thailand, James Wise launching 17m high speed ferry
Since establishing operations in Thailand in 2011, the company is now building its eighth vessel. 'Two have gone to WA for a large mining company and two to North Queensland, while the other four have been for Asian clients.'
Swan Super Lines will be representing Gold Coast Ships Ltd in Australia, selling the range to private and commercial operators, including overseeing building from scratch to suit specific requirements.
Says Ian Swan, principal at SSL: 'These ferries would suit commercial operators, tourist activities, diving and whale watching operations, surfing safari, eco tours and reef trips anywhere in Australia. Already boats are operating in Port Douglas and other destinations.'
They are proven designs, extremely fuel efficient, built to survey and can accommodate from six up to 450 people. 'The builders understand the various requirements, from ferries to tours, understanding every facet such as luggage stowage, capacity, fuel requirements and aesthetics.'
More at www.goldcoastships.com and www.swansuperlines.com