Getting back to business

ONE of the businesses hardest hit by Cyclone Ului is starting to get back on its feet after suffering about $2 million in damage to its property and premises.

Whitsunday Rent A Yacht (WRAY) – the Whitsundays' longest operating bareboat charter company – took the full force of the storm at Shute Harbour.

The business's proud fleet of 35 boats was just about ripped to shreds by the impact of the storm, with three boats written off completely and all but two requiring some form of fix before becoming available for charter again.

Rather than spending time sitting idle and feeling sorry for themselves however, WRAY staff got straight to work doing all that was needed to get boats back out onto the water.

The car park was turned into a temporary shipyard and several shipwrights were contracted to help with the workload, with repairs supervised by Matt Flint, the manager of the Shute Harbour slipway.

They have since repaired 11 boats to join the two that survived the storm and WRAY general manager Alex Hawson is expecting a further one or two to rejoin the fleet every week until it gets back to full strength in June.

Taking into consideration the fleet's current depleted numbers Ms Hawson said business had been strong since the cyclone with charters holding steady at three quarters capacity.

That bodes well for business when the fleet returns to full strength, which will include three brand new boats among as many as 40 as WRAY is currently in negotiations to add an extra four boats.

“We're busily restocking the fleet – and set to take delivery of some $1.8 million worth of new craft within the coming three months,” Ms Hawson said.

“The Australian dollar is strong at the moment so while that has negative effects, with more [Australians] heading overseas for their holidays, the flip side is that it's a good time to purchase boats, which gives us the potential for new investors.”

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