Show boat for Norfolk’s marine sector

Marine companies from across the region have returned from Seawork International, Europe's largest commercial boatshow, confident of clinching fresh orders.

More than 40 businesses from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex exhibited at the event in Southampton which drew thousands of visitors from home and abroad.

Gary Williams, director of industry body Marine East, said: 'This year's show was bigger and better than ever, reflecting the vibrant state of the industry which owes much of this to the phenomenal growth of the offshore wind sector.

'As a new industry it is clear that it is one of the keys to the economic recovery of the East of England.'

The region's boatbuilding expertise was showcased on the stands of Great Yarmouth-based Alicat Workboats and Goodchild Marine, based on the Broads at Burgh Castle.

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Ian Palmer, sales manager at Goodchild Marine, said: 'We took down a Lochin 367 pilot boat we had just built for the south coast port of Shoreham and it attracted interest from representatives of ports all over the country. They were really very impressed.'

He said they also had a lot of information on their stand about a new-design catamaran they were building in conjunction with Alicat as a survey/fisheries patrol vessel.

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'That attracted a lot of interest as well,' he said.

Mr Palmer said interest at the show reflected the buoyant state of their business which included a successful deal with Alicat, fitting out their aluminium catamarans.

Alicat's business development manager David Blake said they handed over two new vessels - together worth £5.5m - at the show.

The Yarmouth-built 23m Dalby Swale was handed over to Lowestoft firm Dalby Offshore and a 24m Seacat Ranger, built at their Isle of Wight base, was delivered to Seacat Services.

He said the show had resulted in a lot of new sales inquiries and had also been the setting for advanced talks likely to lead to firm orders in the coming weeks.

Mr Blake said: 'We are continuing to expand steadily and are looking to take on more apprentices next term.'

Peter Edwards, of ASAP Supplies in Beccles, which supplies equipment to the leisure and commercial marine industries around the world, said: 'The footfall this year was greater again than previous years and with the increase in exhibitors and boat builders from the UK, Europe and other parts of the world, Seawork provides a fantastic opportunity for ASAP to find new customers and to meet many of our current ones.'

Alastair Clayton of Seaglaze, manufacturers of marine windows in Rackheath, said: 'Through Seawork, we have increased our business, manufacturing capacity and jobs by securing orders in the commercial sector.'

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