Blackbeard to set up Superyacht hub in CT?

Resilient Yachtport owner sets sight on new facility

Brian Blackbeard knows all about stiff headwinds, both economic and oceanic.

The well-known owner of Saldanha’s YachtPortSA, who recently opened an office in Cape Town, says he founded his company eight years ago on the understanding that he would be working with Robertson and Caine – to help tranship their boats to the charter market abroad.  Shortly thereafter R&C changed tack and transhipped from Cape Town.

Yachtport then focussed on servicing other local builders closer to home, particularly two companies situated in Atlantis. Both closed down.

With FerroMarine Cape, Blackbeard’s oil & gas industry repair and upgrade service hub, he has had similar challenges. The 50 000 mfacility at A Berth in the Port of Cape Town weathered a major downturn in the oil  & gas economy, in the process losing its anchor tenant, DCD Marine.  Blackbeard prefers to see the upside – there’s now more space to do his own thing.

Then there’s FerroMarine Africa, a 220,000 m2  multidisciplinary fabrication and logistics facility  in Saldanha Bay with its own quayside, perfectly located for ship repair and Operation Phakisa. But where was Phakisa? No sooner had Blackbeard invested his millions than Transnet announced they wanted to use the promised repair quay for manganese exports. More headwind.

And finally there’s Saldanha Port’s infamous iron ore dust, red, lots of it, blasting across the bay and covering Blackbeard’s facilities to the tune of R14-million – at least that is what he has claimed in damages.

With headwinds this hostile, most would have been blown away.

But Blackbeard is nothing if not resilient. Despite these setbacks, or possibly because of them, he remains a major presence in the market, now eager to diversity his business into the superyacht market.

He is currently researching the possibility of a superyacht ‘one stop shop’  in Cape Town with a view to attracting a bigger share of this lucrative market. “My long term view for YachtPort is I intend to expand the business to Cape Town. We want to build a superyacht facility,” Blackbeard told SABBEX during the recent Cape Town International Boat Show. “Superyachts come here quite frequently but there is no qualified person to work on these yachts – you need to work to high specifications.”

“We as YachtPort would like to operate the facility but we will include other local businesses – we want to create a precinct where all other services are accredited to work on the vessels, and in this way spread work to the entire industry,” he said.

To this end he has already toured superyacht facilities in Europe and spoke with some of the biggest market players. Response has been positive, including from local stakeholders who see huge benefit in the superyacht market.

Blackbeard may have weathered a few economic whirlwinds in his time, but the moral of his story is clear: it is never plan sailing doing business at the Cape of Storms.  The trick is to stick around long enough to cross the finish line.

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