As the plane touched down in Ho Chi Minh I was looking forward to visiting the factory the next day and seeing the status of our 1160 Lite, previously Shane and the team at Seawind had been keeping the construction updated with regular photos and production status reporting but I was now keen to see the vessel in real life.
It had been just over three months since signing the contract earlier in the year and time had passed quickly with now only 8 weeks to Launch in HCM (Jan 4th) and this was one of the final opportunities to go over the boats layout details prior to launch date.
Being based in Singapore the flight was a short 90 minutes to HCM however the only complication as always is with visa and immigration, anyone travelling to Vietnam should make sure to preprint and fill out their arrival visa paperwork prior to landing as there always seems to be a huge lineup at the visa collection and payment counter, this is additional to all the online pre visa paper work you also need to organize before catching the flight. USD 45 poorer for my efforts and now cleared of customs I caught at Taxi into the District 1 area, there are many choices of great places to stay with excellent dining and entertainment options throughout the City.
Next day I arrived at Corsair marine which was a 30 minute taxi ride from District 1 (Dependent on traffic). Having worked in the marine industry and for Seawind catamarans back in the day during the early 90s I was also very interested to see how the facility in Vietnam compared to the previous location in Wollongong. To my surprise the factory is actually a significant improvement over my past experiences with boat production, the site is very well laid out with separate laminating, assemble sheds, and supported by a high quality workforce of Expats and locally trained staff.
Across both the Corsair and the Seawind Sheds were a hive of activity with numerous vessels at various stages of production. The Corsair shed was running flat out with the new Pulse dominating the production floor, awesome looking lines on this trimaran with forward sloping bows. The Seawind shed was also a hive of activity with Six , 1160’s at various stages of completion (including my own) , and two new models in production, Seawind 1190, Seawind 1600 & the new Seawind 1160 Resort.
One aspect that I really appreciated was the ability to chat and interact with the local Vietnamese workforce teams that are building the boats (most staff are bilingual). They take real pride in their work and the attention to detail on the finer finishing of key aspects within the boat are of a very high standard, the impression was that the level of quality now being achieved by the teams in Vietnam are significantly higher than from my time previously at Seawind in Australia.
Boat inspection and tour now completed the next steps are for a planned Launch of our new 1160 in Ho Chi Min early January followed by sea trials in Nhan Trang and then a 800 Nautical mile voyage back to Singapore. I am also looking forward to spending some sailing time together again with Richard Ward (Seawind Catamaran Daddy and Multihull Guru) as he has also put his hand up to join us on the voyage back to Singapore .
By Andrew Grace.