by Dom Wiseman

In its purpose-built sheds at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, the Aus Ships Group has been working around the clock on four custom-designed vessels for the newly refurbished and relaunched Hayman Island by InterContinental, the 5-star jewel in the crown of the Great Barrier Reef.

Aus Ships Tommy Ericson

More than tools of transport, the new Hayman Island by InterContinental line-up of vessels includes a 26ft, 38ft, 75ft and dedicated dive boat, all due ahead of the island’s reopening 1 July.

Entirely refurbished and rebranded after the devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the 400-hectare private island resort occupies the most northerly of the Whitsunday Islands, approximately 28 kilometres north-east of Shute Harbour and about 900 kilometres north of Brisbane.

Sun Symphony - 09

Part of its luxury offering will be the new transport and leisure vessels available to guests. Tommy Ericson, Director at Aus Ships explains the background to the project, the scope and challenges involved.

What were the previous boats you designed and built for Hayman Island?

The Aus Ships Group delivered Sun Symphony in 2015 and Sun Serenity in 2016. Each vessel has the capacity for 60 guests in absolute comfort. The design was to ensure the ‘Hayman experience’ commenced as soon as the guests stepped off the plane on Hamilton Island ahead of their transfer to Hayman.

What attributes/skills does Aus Ships Group have that compelled Hayman to approach you again for the new boats?

The Aus Ships Group provides the complete one-stop shop from concept design and modelling, through detailed engineering and naval architecture to shipbuilding, commissioning and delivery. Given the short build time required for the design and build of the new flagship (due to the schedule of the resort), our proven ability to deliver on time was a major factor in us securing the deal.

What is the 26ft boat going to be used for?

The 26-footer (8m) new build, known as “Reef Seeker”, is a customised guest transfer vessel for day touring and near island activities, snorkelling, picnics and general guest services. “Reef Seeker” will replace an existing vessel and provide improved stability, increased efficiency and reliability whilst incorporating a customised beach loading facility on the bow.

Can you describe the 75ft boat?

“Sun Harmony” will be the resort’s new flagship, joining her sisters “Sun Symphony” and “Sun Serenity” which were delivered in 2015 and 2016 respectively. She will provide increased passenger and luggage capacity, improved guest experience and crew functionality.

She is an aluminium semi displacement catamaran with a conservative service speed of 21 knots carrying 100 passengers and five crew.

Sun Harmony is a luxury guest experience providing internal seating for 65 guests, external covered seating for 40 guests and a VIP lounge in the bridge for those keen to get a first-hand recital from the Captain.

Customised and compact drinks preparation and separate food preparation areas are concealed from the guests on the main deck.

A highly-appointed bathroom is lined in mosaic tiles, calacatta porcelain panels and recessed lighting.

What was the production time on the 75ft? 

Contract duration is 11 months and the construction time is eight months.

How many contractors and ASG team members working on these projects?

We have approximately 30 full time with an additional 30 speciality contractors involved in the project, many of those located within the Rivergate precinct.

What are some of the Dive boat’s features?

The dive boat is an ultra-luxe vessel which has been designed with styling cues from Sun Harmony and her sisters, with a focus on providing a seaworthy and stable platform, efficient dive and snorkel operations and guest amenity as would be expected by Hayman Island clientele.

The design has been completed entirely in house by the ASG design studio, Aus Yachts, with build delivery scheduled for 2020.

What were some of the creative challenges you had to be particularly innovative to solve?

One of the key challenges with “Sun Harmony” was to deliver a design with superyacht cues but commercial functionality and performance – a vessel which reflects all that is Hayman. We have introduced some new styling ideas which we are excited to unveil in a few weeks!

This new vessel is also a hybrid construction with aluminium hulls and main cabin, and composite upper deck structures including the wheelhouse roof, aft deck awning and side fairings. This has been done to reduce weight, improved aesthetics, increased insulation and a reduction in ongoing maintenance.

From the build perspective we were challenged with respect to the build facility – and in particular the potential need to relocate part of the team to another facility offsite to undertake the build. Some very lateral thinking with Judy, Tom, Steve, Andrew and the Rivergate team delivered the construction facility we now have – right behind our existing facility.