Serving the Superyachts


Rozelle Bay's long-awaited new boatyard is on its way, reports Bob Ross

A NEW maintenance, refit and repair yard for pleasure craft up to superyacht size and even larger commercial vessels at Rozelle Bay on Sydney Harbour should be operating by April next year.

The NSW government's Planning Minister Frank Sartor just before Christmas approved the development application for the new $20 million facility, the biggest of its kind on the harbour since the establishment of Noakes Boat and Shipyard at Berry's Bay in 1994.

Sydney City Marine, owned by Sydney ocean-racing identities Tony Ellis and Brian James, is redeveloping a derelict site under the western approach to the Anzac Bridge, quite close to the Sydney CBD. The site has easy access, by road and water.

It aims to be a “one-stop shop” providing all the resources needed to slip, launch, repair, maintain and paint anything from small keelboats upwards.

It will have an in-water repair berth for vessels up to 50m in length and two shorter work berths flanked by floating walkways.

Boats will be lifted out on to the hard stand by either a 600 tonne ship lift, 100 tonne travel lift or a 47-tonne submersible, remote-controlled trailer via a launching ramp.

The 600-tonne ship-lift platform is powerful enough and at 40m long and 14m wide big enough to take harbour charter boats and Defence Marine Services vessels.

Bearing the appropriate cradle, it will sink to lift a boat out. Then, a self-powered 400-tonne remote-controlled transporter from Roodberg in the Netherlands, will lift the boat on its cradle and move it around the site's 15,900sq m of hardstand.

“It's just a great big multi-wheeled thing that can pirouette and go sideways to the touch of a remote control,” says Ellis. “We chose this because it's such a tight site for handling boats and to optimise the amount of space we have, we couldn't use the travel lift for transporting the boats around. And having railway tracks through the yard was prohibitive on that site.

“We will have one that goes in the water and “This equipment from Roodberg is now being used by the biggest European yards.”

A 100 tonne straddle lift, also remote-controlled, will lift out and transport deep-keeled yachts, like the maxis, which need to be suspended six metres in the air. But for all the other yachts, Sydney City Marine has ordered purpose-built adjustable cradles from Roodberg for use on the transporters.

Diesel re-fuelling, pump-out facility for diesel, sewage and bilge water will be available on the waterfront.

Under cover

The site will have 2560sq m of under cover work area. The biggest work shed, 40m x 40m, tucked under the Anzac Bridge, will be steel-framed with clear polycarbonate panelling.

Five booths on the ground floor, alongside the yard's offices, will house sub contractors. More workshops as well as offices will be located on a mezzanine floor at a level from where sub contractors can step on and off the boats.

Above the office and contractor booths at the main entrance from James Craig Drive on the western side of this building will be a 470sq m rigging area that can take masts up to 40m long. It will have a small overhead monorail to lift the masts there. “We can get the masts off the ground and out of the way up there,” says Ellis. “It's really a big problem in most yards.”


To the north of the big work-shed and linked to it by a trussed metal canopy, is another building housing a major paint and grit-blasting shed, 40m x 16m with a ten tonne overhead crane, to accommodate yachts up to 39m long; a smaller paint bay 25m x 12m and a boat assembly shed.

The paint sheds are similar to those used by major European yards Royal Huisman in Holland and Pendennis in the UK with ventilation to meet the stricter European standards.

“The paint sheds will be the first of their kind in the southern hemisphere, minimising the impact of VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) solvents you can smell in paints,” says Ellis. “Australia is about five or six years behind the trends in Europe.”

James added: “The Department of Environment and Conservation gave us a real working over. We modified our design extensively so that instead of being a normal Sydney boatyard, we went to being the world's most advanced boatyard.

“Hopefully we have the bar that every other new boatyard in Sydney is going to have to jump to.”

The yard will also have the latest in water treatment technology. “We will actually be harvesting all the rain water, treating it, using it, collecting it and treating it again and re-using it,” says Ellis. “All the treatment will come up to class 'A' industrial standard.”

“We are trying to make this the world's most environmentally advanced boat yard,” James adds.

A management/security office will control access at the main entrance and be used for the day-to-day management of the facility. Security fencing and gates will be provided along the James Craig Road frontage and there will be car-parking spaces for staff, tenants and a number of clients.

Supporting tenants

A third building on the opposite side of James Craig Road to the main facility, with three floors, will house marine-related tenants, a ships chandlery, a coffee shop with an outdoor terrace looking out over Rozelle Bay towards the city skyline and Sydney Harbour Bridge. It will have a basement car park, with 49 spaces, while more car parking, rear to curb, will be provided on James Craig Road.

Expected marine business tenants and sub-contractors for the whole facility include naval architects, joinery and shipwright services, metal fabrication, electrical and marine engineering, mechanics, electronics, soft furnishing and interior design outfitters. “Marketing is seriously under way,” says James. “Generally, the response has been very good.”

Lengthy process

Ellis and James are happy with the terms of the DA approval which will allow the yard to haul out boats seven days a week and work internally in some areas 24 hours a day. The coffee shop will be open from 7am to 11pm and 7-12 three days a week.

They are not so happy with the time their development application took to get through the system and theirs is the first major project to win approval under the NSW government's master plan for Rozelle Bay/Wattle Bay.

The plan vows to “secure and promote maritime industry in the region and increase the community's use of the foreshore”.

The Rozelle Bay precinct includes the existing NSW Maritime Authority head office and the superyacht marina to the south-west of the Anzac Bridge, a proposed 800-boat dry stack area with a jetty of loading berths on the waterfront, then the existing Australian Heritage Fleet dock and premises.

Between there and the head of the bay will be waterfront contractor barge and loading pontoon facilities, then a common-user commercial boat ramp while Seawind Catamarans has proposed to build a service centre in the shallow water at the head of the bay.

Tenders for the various sites closed in December 2001. Sydney City Marine's tender was accepted in January 2003 and it lodged its development application with the Sydney Harbour Foreshores Authority in November 2004 and it waited until December 2006 to get approval.

“It has been a long, frustrating process and there is certainly more streamlining to be done in the government areas on getting approvals through,” says James. “It's been ridiculous considering that you have won a tender from the government for a thing that the government wants but it takes so damn long to get through.”

More people

Ellis and James have taken on more consultants since their DA approval and appointed as chief executive officer Jonathan Twomey, a naval architect and former superyacht captain who most recently has been a projects director at ADI where he supervised some major refits for superyachts at its Newcastle yard.

Sydney City Marine is trading overseas as Superyacht Sydney Refit Pty Ltd. It is a member of the NSW Superyacht Alliance, the Australian Ship Repairers' Association and the Australian Shipbuilders' Association.

James was a founding member of the Superyacht Alliance, a group of companies focused on developing a world-class superyacht construction, refit, repair, painting and conversion industry in New South Wales.

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