But get used to thermal scans, floor markings and plenty of hand sanitizer…

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the coronavirus, it’s that going back to work isn’t so bad.  The country’s top yards are in a celebratory mood as the industry moves to make their workplaces ‘Covid-savvy’ after five weeks of enforced lockdown. Company executives can now exit their Zoom meetings and return to the non-pixelated business of actual boats, rather than just talking about them to clients or potential clients.

Several leading manufacturers and suppliers this week reassured clients that yards would ramp up production as much as possible under the current lockdown regime. In the case of Gemini Marine this entails most admin staff working from home in order to maximise production staff and output (as per government’s regulations). The move is intended to “catch up on lost production, and complete all the current plus the newly received orders on our production board,” according to Gemini global sales and marketing head Gerhard Neethling. “I understand completely that there is a new normal for all of us, but we will be doing our utmost best to get the business back to normal,” Neethling said in a company statement.

Risk mitigation measures to be implemented at the Gemini yard include a ban on walk-in customers, compulsory protective gear, and staff screening to check for observable symptoms associated with Covid-19. The factory will also be divided in two shifts, to rotate every other week. “A shift will consist of three days. We will work on new daily hours to get the most out of production time,” Neethling said.

“I hope all is well and that you and your family are safe in these crazy times,” he added.

Nexus Yachts General Manager Roger Paarman was also quick to reassure customers that the St Francis Bay yard would be jumping straight back into production, with hull #8 (Ohana) and #9 (Blue Diamond) to be launched soon. “Hulls 10, 11 and 12 (all 526’s) are scheduled at different stages of production as we start back up again. Fortunately, we have a full book of orders with another 526 pending and two exciting projects, a 580 and 620 to diversify our Balance Catamarans range,” Paarman said.

He said to date there were relatively few known cases of coronavirus in the St Francis Bay region, but the yard would nevertheless be adopting a cautious approach. Each staff member would receive three washable cloth face masks and be required to wear the relevant respirator, mask and eye protection during yard operations. Tea and lunch breaks would also be staggered to enable social distancing. “Depending on the conditions set by our government we have planned around maintaining maximum capacity while still considering all the measures we need to implement to protect our most valuable resource, our staff,” Paarman said. “We are a financially sound and proud company and will endure and develop greater business resilience under the present Covid-19 pandemic. We are proud to be associated with the Balance Catamarans family as we strive to offer our clients the world’s best custom catamaran for the performance cruising market.”

Mark Delany, Balance Catamarans Cape Town managing director, said the company’s large factory spaces lent themselves to efficient social distancing. “We will thereafter increase our capacity as allowed by regulations,” Delany said. “To date we are not aware of anyone having been diagnosed with CV-19 in our workforce or their immediate families.”

“It is going to be an exciting time ahead for Balance Catamarans as we continue to grow strongly. We have a very full order book for the 482 and will be starting the production tooling for the new 442 in the second half of this year. We have a lot to keep our motivated and passionate teams busy in the coming months,” Delany said. ENDS

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