Having stayed in this amazing country with its amazingly friendly and resilient people more than a year now, and having used almost all facilities for repair and maintenance there is, I want to warn other cruisers that in my experience quality of work is really an issue in Fiji and something that needs to be addressed. Everything has to be micro managed by the captain/owner, but even then big mistakes are made in most projects.
Currently there are only three full service contractors allowed to work in Vuda Marina and Denarau - Baobab Marine, Yacht Help and Juve Marine. This makes it hard as a customer to find any good quality labour. Most skilled labour has now moved to NZ or Australia instead of staying in Fiji with low wages. This results in companies picking people more or less from the street with no real education, handing over a company t-shirt and calling them experts.
Vuda Marina, the only yard in Fiji with a decent sized travel lift, makes 7% of all the money their contractors charge you, and their short term incentive to improve the quality of their contractors work is low to say the least. Extra lay days at the yard and marina due to small jobs becoming big and long, caused by mistakes by their contractors, makes more money for the yard than good quality work. Prices in general have also gone up this year.
The last job Yacht Help did for us was (we thought) an easy one) - antifouling painting. But...they used an angle grinder to remove the propspeed on the propeller and p-bracket when the instruction was not to remove the old propspeed at all. The damaged propeller had to be sent to NZ for repairs. On haul out five days after the paint job, to remove the prop, we noticed that the antifouling had already come off on the hull due to bad preparation. The repairs kept us another 6 weeks in the marina, with extra cost for lay days of more than 2 300 FJD plus 5 000 FJD for the work, but Yacht Help didn't even agree on paying for the repairs (prop plus paint) nor the reapplication of the propspeed, rejecting all responsibility for their mistakes..
After me threatening to go to court, Yacht Help paid part of the propeller repair (1000 of 2380 FJD), two haul outs plus the antifouling paint fix up. They did not pay for the hard stand during the repair and they did not pay for the prop speed though. The marina did not wave any marina costs for our six weeks stranded in the marina.
At the moment there are two other boats "stranded" on the hard, left there to extra charges due to contractors’ mistakes.
Problem is that we all are just passing through and can't stay long enough usually to go through the long and weary legal processes. These guys are much aware of this, and in the end we all pay just to get away from there.
There are plenty stories like this I am afraid.
The photo of the trailer shows it in its ‘bare’ state as the wheels/docking arms/draw bar are kept at home. The photo with the Corribee onboard (Corribee & skipper not included) illustrates how the complete system works – the trailer is attached to a tractor or winch for lowering down the slipway. For recovery the docking arms locate the boat centrally over the trailer, while lines from the drawbar position the boat fore and aft. The boat and trailer can be pushed around the yard by 3 people. The trailer itself can just about be lifted by two strong guys.