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Company ventures into boatbuilding

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The continuous reports of loss of lives at sea and fibreglass boats capsizing have prompted the Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries Ltd (FSHIL) to commence boatbuilding in Fiji.

This is to ensure the standard of fibreglass boats are not compromised ensuring safety to the travelling public.

FSHIL operations manager Lopeti Radravu said what made their products different from any other boatbuilder in the country was the fact that they followed the standard requirements and ensure that they abide by the Maritime Aids to Navigation Regulation 2014.

According to Mr Radravu, a fibreglass boat should not completely submerge if the standard requirements for boatbuilding are followed.

"The 23D and 23SR hull designs (the most common hull designs that captured the markets) must have eight layers thickness of (chop-strand/roving mats) below waterline and six layers above waterline. These are to ensure that rigidity, longevity and durability of the hull in withstanding the six degrees of wave motions — heaving, yawing, swaying, surging, rolling and pitching during the boat's years of operation.

"It is sad to note that a few fibreglass boat builders do not install bottom longitudinal, but if they do install, the longitudinal are drop shot at intervals amongst the transverse frames. This must be stopped as it does not comply with the current IACS code. All bottom longitudinal should be continuous from bow to stern, connected to transom knee," Mr Radravu said.

"All our boats go through the swamp test, before they are sold, conducted by MSAF. The boatbuilding law demands that the buoyancy should be adequate enough during any incident out at sea where the boat swamps, she should be floating evenly with her sheer (gunwale) ranges from 50mm to 100mm above the sea surface with the outboard engine. That is the standard.

"However, what some boatowners experience, the fibreglass boat when swamped at sea, she floats at angle ranges from 25—35 degrees simply because there is less buoyancy towards the stern (the outboard motor is fixed). The end product of the construction materials to build these boats are extremely slippery so for any incident at sea, there is little hope for passengers to cling on to the boat which is why FSHIL ensures that we have a grabber line on both sides of the boat apart from the life jacket provided."

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