The superb Ocean Marina and Yacht Club in na-Jomtien has been – and will increasingly continue to be – a major force in the development of the blossoming Thai marine leisure sector. Last month’s launch of a sophisticated power catamaran, “Calypso 10”, built entirely at the Marina, was the latest indicator of this prominence.
At a splendid dock-side ceremony at the Marina’s Yacht Club facility on March 10, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Paul Robilliad, launched the magnificent, super-fast 24–meter Catamaran built exclusively for an Australian company by Gold Coast Ships. This is just the most recent of many such craft to be built at Ocean Marina,
H.E. Paul Robilliad, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, talks during the official launch ceremony of the Calypso super-catamaran at Ocean Marina Yacht Club in na-Jomtien, Pattaya on March 10.
The personable, multi-lingual Ambassador, reveling in the ambient warmth and sunshine of the Jomtien coastline, pointed out that such joint ventures as the production of these catamarans was another example of the efficacy of the Australian-Thai Free Trade Association and was mutually beneficial to employment openings, market opportunities and promotion of the marine leisure sector in both countries.
According to the Australian designer, Paul Birgan, the builders, Gold Coast Ships, established its ship-yard facilities at the Ocean Marina four years ago and has produced a series of these Catamarans, with several more already on the production line.
Seven of these craft have been commissioned by Australian companies that appreciate the excellent sea-worthiness – and, equally-important in these times of environmental awareness and a trend towards development of non-fossil fuels – a most economical fuel consumption.
The Calypso can safely carry up to 200 passengers and cruise at a top speed of 28 knots.
The latest vessel has already left Thailand and will join its sister-ships working the waters off Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s tropical north, transporting tourists, diving enthusiasts and holiday-makers, each and every day to the myriad islands and coastal areas.
The vessel is powered by 2 x 965hp MTU engines for a maximum speed of around 28 knots (52km/h), and will carry an average of 100 day-trippers and can readily and safely carry up to 200 passengers.
Added to the beautifully fitted-out and fully-equipped air-conditioned lounge areas, for the convenience and safety of all aboard, the craft has an electric hydraulic rear dive platform that lowers, allowing direct access to the water.
There are four luxurious bathrooms, as well as a kitchen and serving area. “Calypso” is also fitted with the latest helm navigation electronics, providing ultimate safety for passengers and crew.
A prominent participant at the launch was Scott Finsten, the Harbour Master of the Ocean Marina facility, whose drive, dedication and extreme enthusiasm for the marine leisure scene in Thailand, has seen the Marina develop into one of Asia’s – and, certainly South-east Asia’s – best marine-related facilities.
Scott pointed out that with new equipment and substantial changes, the Marina can handle any size craft up to super-maxis and that there is plenty of berthing space available.
He is justly proud of the proliferation of boat-building facilities and marine hardware outlets operating at the Marina as well as such big on-water events as the annual Top of the Gulf Regatta and the recently-established and highly successful Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.
The latest to “drop anchor” at the Marina is the prestigious Italian company Azimut Yachts, which has just opened its first showroom and dealership, the Azimut Lounge, at the Marina fore-shore arcade. Azimut executives readily see “the potential of developing and expanding the yachting industry in Thailand”.
The Marina: decades of advances
As the veteran of the assembly on Calypso’s launch day I had some advantages, for I have been fortunate to witness some of the Marina’s highlights over almost three decades. In 1991, for example, the Marina launched the “Mirabella”, mooted at the time as the largest production yacht in the world. This 40-metre craft was designed by renowned naval architect Bruce Farr and built by Finnish expert Pekka Koskakyla. The “Mirabella” had a real Thai launching, being towed into the Gulf waters by two pachyderms!
Then came the launch of the solar-powered “Heliotrope” early last year, reported in the Pattaya Mail as “the solar-powered boat that elevates Thailand to the vanguard of marine technology”. Built at the Bakri Cono shipyard, “Heliotrope” is currently on a round-the-world trial run.
Now, at the launch of “Calypso”, Ben Giles, the Australian Trade Commissioner, pointed out that this 24m x 9m fast passenger catamaran is the third in succession “for one of our Australian clients who appreciates the excellent sea-worthy features and fuel economy”.
Ben believes that such craft would also make excellent ferries for Thailand, for transport (Trans-Gulf, Pattaya-Hua Hin, for example) and they are ideal for day charters and diving trips.
Building these craft in Thailand, noted Ben, has also provided jobs and training for local Thai tradesmen, as well as income for many Thai businesses which provide the huge amount of equipment and supplies such a craft requires.
A word of commendation then for Ocean Marina, which continues to prove that all craft produced there are built to international standards of safety and efficiency.
All new craft must have a “shake-down” cruise and, after the opening formalities, the huge crowd assembled at the Ocean Marina Yacht Club seafront went aboard the super-cat, which blasted along at some 28-knots into the face of a strong north-easterly, from Pattaya to Wongamat. There was barely a rocking sensation on board.
If I ever venture to the “wilds” of Queensland, I shall seek out the “Calypso”, which will probably help ameliorate the nostalgia I always feel when I am absent from Thailand. At least, a trip on this craft would bring me in communion with the sea I have always loved in and around the Kingdom.