About Thailand

austhai marine, thailand boat builders, power catamaransThailand has a rich culture of boatbuilding that spans many centuries. The country is blessed with a number of large and navigable rivers that in times past were the main arterial highways of the country. Over time an extensive network of canals was added to make this mode of transport even more accessible and viable. Not only were the rivers and canals used for commerce and the transport of the necessities of daily living, but they were also used for the waging of war. Invasions and the repelling of invaders using boats is commonplace in Thai history.

Traditionally the Kings of Thailand used ornate barges as a means of transport. It has been traditional that each King would build at least one new barge during his reign. Many of these wonderfully ornate and superbly crafted examples of the traditional Thai boat building skills have been preserved or restored and are on display at a specially designed museum in Bangkok. The barges are still used on ceremonial occasions. Sadly, this way of life has all but disappeared although remnants still exist. Canals are still in use for mass transport in the capital, Bangkok, and floating markets with vendors plying their wares from small traditional boats are still to be found.

Thailand has always drawn much of its food from the sea, and the history of tradition wooden fishing boats is centuries old. Traditional boat yards are still to be found, generally under shady trees on a beach, where the traditional methods of building are still in use, albeit on most occasions supplemented by the use of modern tools. It is not unusual in these yards to see a traditional boat builder resolutely shaping a keel with an adze, while alongside him another will be using an electric planer, a belt sander or an electric drill. Despite the modern tools the traditional methods are still carried on. This tradition of reliance on the sea, transport on the canals and rivers has developed skills in boatbuilding in Thailand that are the equal of any in the world.

The modern boat building industry in Thailand has its roots in its ancient history. With its abundance of beautiful beaches, offshore islands, amazing reefs, and the friendliness of its people, it was inevitable that Thailand would become a major tourist hub. The tourist influx leads to a demand for a different type of boat, one that could carry tourist to offshore locations in relative comfort. This led to the development of the speed boat, commonly referred to as a Thai wooden boat. Recognising the demand, the local boat builders adapted, but retained the skills that they knew and built lightweight, fast wooden speedboats to service the tourism demand. Over time these evolved and adapted to the point where today the design has probably reached its optimum in terms of performance and function. These wooden boats are to be seen by the hundreds at any of the coastal tourism destinations in Thailand.

In recent times and influx of foreigners permanently residing in Thailand has brought new skills to the country. There are now many foreign and Thai managed boatyards in Thailand producing quality boats in Fibreglass, composites, steel, aluminium etc. Many of these yards are small and concentrate on custom build boats, whilst others are large and do both custom build and series production. By combining modern materials with traditional Thai boat building skills these yards combine the best of both worlds.

Thailand is destined to become a major force in the Asian boatbuilding industry with a vast choice in model designs already available, a large untapped potential for custom building of boats and yachts, an influx of skilled foreign boat builders, the future for the industry in Thailand has never looked brighter.

Thailand is slowly but surely becoming a world centre for boat production. The number of boats being exported is increasing every year. Because of the availability of skilled labour at a reasonable cost, Thailand offers a very viable alternative for boat manufacturing and the world is starting to appreciate this. There are three major boatbuilding locations in Thailand. Of these, the Eastern seaboar is the most significant and has the highest concentrations of boatyards. This concentration is centred on the Pattaya area and extends from Rayong in the south to Chonburi to the north. This area is home to major boat builders such as SEAT Boats, CMI, Concordia, Pantawee, IBB and Austhai Marine.

Not all boat builders in Thailand build to International small boat standards, and potential customers need to be aware of this. However companies, such as CMI, Austhai Marine and some others do, whilst others who do not do so as a matter of course may be able to do so on request.




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