The Maritimo factory visit was a full-day tour that started with a welcome by Luke Durman, the marketing director of Maritimo, and ended with a luxury boat ride to a dinner date on the Gold Coast. Most of the visiting journos had been in airports and planes since before dawn, so it required more than the average amount of information to keep them alert. Luke and the other Maritimo executives didn’t disappoint.
“What we’re going to show you today is a behind-the-scenes look into the Maritimo production process and what makes Maritimo ‘Oceans Apart’ in terms of product quality, engineering and performance,” said Luke.
“Most importantly, we’ll show you how we can compete globally on a value-for-money basis that is achieved through efficient manufacturing processes,” he added.
Durman admitted that the 2008/9 financial year has been a challenging one:
“Our 2009 forecasts indicate a 20 per cent drop in total unit sales, but the outlook for Maritimo is very positive and our 2010 forecast indicates a 15 per cent increase on 2009 sales.
“The most positive sign is that our production schedule is full to September this year.
“We believe we have seen the worst of this recession and, while we’re not out of it yet, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
“Our CEO, Bill Barry-Cotter, is a master tactician and in a declining market, when most other boatbuilders are applying the brakes, his direction to the management team was to step on the gas.
“We’ve invested over $10 million this year in developing new models and we’ve expanded our global dealer network.
“We’ve appointed new dealerships worldwide — in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico and Guadalupe, and Yacht Blue in Florida.
“This takes our dealer network in the Americas to a total of 18 locations and we have nine boats in production or on order to be delivered to the Americas in the next six months.
“In Asia we’ve recently appointed dealers in South Korea and Singapore to complement the existing dealers in Hong Kong, China and Thailand.
“In the year ahead we’ll continue to increase our market position in Europe,” Durman said.
In 2008/9 Maritimo launched the C55 Sports Cabriolet, the A60 Aegean Flybridge and the A55 Aegean Flybridge. For the imminent Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS), Maritimo scheduled three new model releases: the C50 Sports Cabriolet that was previewed late last year; the A60 Aegean Enclosed; and the 56 Cruising Motoryacht. At the Sydney International Boat Show in July, Maritimo plans to launch the much-anticipated 73 Cruising Motoryacht, its flagship, and the A50 Aegean Flybridge.
The C50 Sports Cabriolet is a three-cabin, two-head single-level saloon cruiser powered by Caterpillar C12 diesels rated at 715hp. Cruise speed should be around 27kts. Expectation for the boat is high, with four pre-launch orders in Australia, USA and Italy.
The A60 Aegean Enclosed was designed to fill a growing demand for enclosed flybridge cruising. The new boat features a three-side enclosed flybridge with an open aft end, accessed by an internal staircase. There’s no lower helm, so the saloon living room is very spacious. The companionway is on the starboard side rather than amidships; there’s a large, full-beam master cabin and the fourth bunk cabin has been deleted.
The A60 Aegean Enclosed is powered by C12 Cats and has a cruising speed around 25kts.
The 56 Cruising Motoryacht is a restyling of the traditional Maritimo motoryacht, with a more contemporary deck and flybridge profile. It’s the first boat not to feature the trademark Maritimo ‘wings’ on the flybridge.
Another unique feature of the M 56 is a boarding platform that can lift and lower 800mm to 400mm below the waterline and 400mm above it. The platform is ideal for swimming and for tender boarding and retrieval.
The M56 has a three-cabin, two-head arrangement below, with a similar layout to the 52, but with a larger master cabin and athwartships double bed.
The cockpit is huge and incorporates a ‘boot’ that houses a freezer and BBQ.
Standard engines are 715hp C12 Cats, giving a cruise speed of around 25kts. The hull has been shaped to achieve improved performance and fuel efficiency.
Maritimo has plans to restyle some of its existing models and to introduce an Offshore Convertible model in the 45 to 47-foot range, as well as a Sports Cabriolet and an Aegean Flybridge in the 45-foot range. The company plans to begin tooling on the 65 to 70-foot range of Sports Cabriolets and Aegean Flybridges.
At the end of the 2009/10 R&D program Maritimo will have a total of 18 models across four distinct styles of boat.
Maritimo has resisted calls to incorporate IPS or Zeus drives in its boats, because the company’s design philosophy is based on hulls that are easily driven and with the fuel efficiency of shaft drives with nine-degree angles. Maritimo also points to what it believes are higher maintenance regimes and damage potential of pod drives.
However, pod drive manoeuvrability is a winner with boat buyers, so Maritimo has been working away quietly with some of its suppliers on a system that combines Maritimo’s traditional, easily-driven hulls, with pod-style manoeuvrability.
The outcome is that Maritimo has been selected to launch the all-new ZF Joystick Manoeuvring System at SCIBS. The first vessels to be fitted with the ZF JMS are a C60 Sports Cabriolet and Russell Ingall’s new 500 Offshore Convertible. The ZF JMS option is priced around $40,000 compared with, say, $12,000 for an additional sternthruster to complement the standard-issue bowthurster on Maritimo boats.
ZF’s claims that the JMS system provides the same ease of control as pod drives over manoeuvres such as sideways docking and 360-degree rotation on the spot, but with options of heading holding regardless of current and wind effects, and GPS-based station keeping.
JMS employs electronic control of thrusters and regulates engine speed and transmission shifts, via trolling valves, from up to six separate locations around the vessel.
The system can be retrofitted to vessels equipped with electronic engine interface, ZF transmissions and SmartCommand controls. JMS can interface with electric and hydraulic thrusters.
HOW THEY’RE MADE
Maritimo has recently been awarded ISO9001 accreditation, the internationally recognised standard of manufacturing and management excellence. The company claims to be the only production boatbuilder in Australia to be thus accredited.
Maritimo says ISO9001 ensures a commitment to total quality management (TQM) and allows the company to diagnose any deficiencies in the supply and manufacturing process and to rectify them immediately.
The company’s policy is to build as much as possible of its vessels in-house, or to be more precise, several houses. There are several different Maritimo facilities in the Gold Coast area: FRP hull and deck production, assembly, engineering and foundry division, stainless fabrication, wood shop, and upholstery shop.
Our visit to the FRP production area was timely, because this huge factory was dominated by the massive mould for the new 73. Like the other Maritimos this boat will be built with a manual layup.
Martin Lewis, Maritimo’s general manager, told me that the company prefers this traditional construction method over resin infusion, because it guarantees a completely homogenous structure, with no risk of ‘dry’ substrate areas. He admitted there may be theoretical cost savings with infusion, through resin conservation, but the risks weren’t considered worthwhile.
Maritimo is well versed in resin infusion and uses this technique for its raceboat hulls, where weight control is a paramount requirement. Maritimo hulls are built with monolithic FRP below the spray chines, with a layer of balsa sandwich from the chine to just under the hull-deck joint.
One of the highlights of the factory tour was a visit to the company’s foundry. This facility has the flexibility to produce castings in different metals and produces propellers, skegs, rudders, steering cranks and sea strainers. The shop equipment has recently been upgraded to allow casting skegs for the 73.
Our visit was timed for a pour of a propeller, with 120kg of molten bronze being tipped into a sand mould from an induction furnace crucible. The Maritimo propeller design is the brainchild of US-based Cotty Faye and its five-bladed layout is said to be similar to that used on US nuclear submarines.
Lewis explained that Maritimo has settled on only a few propeller sizes for its entire range and alters drop-box gearing and blade pitch to tailor props to vessels and engines. Prop design is still something of a ‘black art’ and Maritimo prefers to minimise prop design alterations. Fitting Caterpillar C12s as standard for most of the range is another step in reducing gearing and prop changes.
Across the driveway is the engineering shop, where stainless steel bar stock is converted into propeller shafts and castings are machined to mirror finish. A 100-tonne cold press ensures bars are ramrod-straight before they’re installed.
The timber and varnish shop is another world-class facility, turning out woodwork with great fit and finish after four sealing coats and five finish layers are applied in a dust-free room.
Although we didn’t have time to see it on this visit, Maritimo has brought its stainless steel fabrication in-house as well. Quality control is the rationale and the company uses only US-sourced tube stock. Castings come from a high-quality Chinese supplier, whose output is monitored closely.
Suffice to say, Maritimo’s manufacturing plants are very impressive and it’s pleasing to see a high degree of local investment and employment, against an Australian marine industry backdrop of abundant imported craft and boatbuilding offshore.
For more information, visit www.maritimo.com.au