It used to be that small meant basic, boring and badly finished – not much to be proud of in a boat –but Port Elizabeth builders Orca Marine are capsizing all that and putting seamless quality, style, strength and durability in the water with an affordable range of hand-crafted boats just perfect for fishing and fun.
Launched late in 2014, Orca’s owners, brothers Myles and Justin Dent, have deliberately positioned their all-new, small sports utility boats to compete in a market they say is desperately in need of an overhaul. With global trends trimming down in favour of convenience, cost and environmental considerations – in boats, as much as in cars and houses – they say there’s no reason why small shouldn’t be big on high-end quality and class. Orca’s growth strategy is to penetrate the small sport and utility boat segment and even create new users by delivering high value at reasonable prices.
“Traditionally, boats of this size have not enjoyed the finish and attention to detail that we apply to our designs – many boat manufacturers have not considered it important for this end of the market and buyers have had little choice but to accept what was on offer. However there is no reason why quality should be compromised. We’ve taken advantage of this gap in the market. Integrity and passion have driven every decision in this design, but what sets Orca boats above the competition is their obvious finished quality,” said Myles.
“We’re starting small; taking the time to build a respected brand through great products and hands-on service, but our plan is to launch several models over the coming years including seagoing boats”.
With boatbuilding one of the key sectors earmarked for growth and development by the Department of Trade and Industry, Orca Marine is positioning itself to take advantage of government support and export incentives in the future. The company has recently taken up residence in a small factory in Baakens Valley, Port Elizabeth, and will become part of a new, consumer-oriented hub currently being developed there.
A seasoned ex-corporate marketing executive, Myles brings astute marketing and business acumen to the venture, but it is his younger brother’s dream to build his own range of boats that has come true with Orca Marine. A composites expert, Justin has spent his life in the boating business in South Africa as well as 10 years in England, building and repairing boats of all shapes and sizes.
DESIGNED FOR PLAY
Always a keen angler, he said his designs are indeed “by a fisherman for fishermen, so comfort and ample space are a given, and make it a pleasure to cruise, play or cast and reel in all day”. Engineered specifically for a quick and easy launch into inland waters, the Orca 340 is available in either a tiller-arm – perfect for the family man with kids to putter off down the canals – or a console version for the more avid fisherman. Lightweight, it runs efficiently on a small 15hp engine, saving fuel and omitting the need for an expensive skipper’s licence.
It has taken the Dent brothers the better part of a year to reach launch point. “We started developing the plugs and moulds in January 2014. It is critical that the moulds are produced to a high standard to ensure the quality of the finished product. That’s an area that other builders often rush through, but the result has proved more than worth the time it took,” Justin explained.
Each vessel is labour of love, carefully hand crafted to exacting specifications. Both men are perfectionists, but they believe the extra time and effort always pays off in knowledge that the finished product is indeed close to perfect.
“Differentiation is a key element in our strategy in achieving success. In the design of the one-piece moulded deck, for example, including a fully integrated deck grip, offered in several different colour variations. This allows owners to personalise their boats but also safeguards the Orca brand identity.
“For the family who loves to build their holiday memories near water, the Orca experience offers great performance easy versatility, good looks and real value. Our boats are genuinely hand built with pride.”
The Orca 340 is available to order direct from Orca Marine or through select retailers. Along with the boats, Orca offers custom built trailers and a host of optional extras. The company also manufactures consoles, trailer mud guards and tailboards.
Author: MJ Botha
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