New mussel harvester launch a boast for Nelson boat builder

The crew of the Kakara; Skipper Bryn Williams, Grant Dunn, Rikki Bovey and Jason Marsh.
Tim O'Connell
The crew of the Kakara; Skipper Bryn Williams, Grant Dunn, Rikki Bovey and Jason Marsh.

A Nelson-based marine engineering firm is harvesting good feedback from its latest vessel.

It was a day of celebration for Aroma Aquaculture as their new mussel harvester Kakara was officially launched at Havelock Marina on Friday.

Following a blessing by local iwi and the traditional breaking of a bottle over the bow, around 160 guests from the local community and aquaculture industry were given the chance to look on board the vessel while sampling the best of Havelock's aquaculture bounty.

Meaning 'aromatic' or sweet-smelling in Māori, the 29.5-metre vessel was designed by Richard McBride of Aimex subsidiary Oceantech NZ to client specifications, built over a 12-month period at Aimex's Port Nelson base.

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All hydraulic and electrical work was carried out in-house, while the deck equipment was built and fitted in stainless steel by Ansco Engineering.

It began harvesting within two days of its arrival in Marlborough last month. 

It was a day of celebration for Aroma Aquaculture as their new mussel harvester Kakara was officially lauched at Havelock on Friday.
Chocolate Dog Studio
It was a day of celebration for Aroma Aquaculture as their new mussel harvester Kakara was officially lauched at Havelock on Friday.

Aroma Aquaculture is a family-owned business with three factories in Canterbury, expanding their presence to the Marlborough Sounds two years ago.

Founded in 1961, the company utilises greenshell mussels sourced from the Marlborough Sounds as a part of its range of natural nutritional supplements for people and animals.

Skipper Bryn Williams has spent eight years in aquaculture, moving from oyster farming to mussel boats around the Pelorus Sound. 

He said the new boat was "state of the art" which would allow some big improvements in efficiency for those on-board.

"It's quite a lot more practical from where we've come from, just with being able to carry more mussels." 

He said the increased use of automation, the comfortable accommodation and electronics - particularly the deck equipment -  were the most impressive aspects of the new boat.

A service cruising speed of 14 knots was another key part of its efficiency.

Electronic features on the Kakara's bridge included radar, plotter, GPS, depth sounder and engine room video surveillance cameras.

Ben Winters of Aroma Aquaculture christens the new mussel harvester Kakara at its official launch at Havelock on Friday.
Chocolate Dog Studio
Ben Winters of Aroma Aquaculture christens the new mussel harvester Kakara at its official launch at Havelock on Friday.

Crew productivity is assisted by a Palfinger 23500 deck crane with full remote controls to operate of the wharf and an improved system in lifting lines out of the water and onto the conveyor.

Operating under a normal working crew of four with accommodation for six, the Kakara has a harvest load capacity of 85 one-tonne bags when at full fuel capacity of 15,000 litres.

It averaged a harvesting rate of 16.5 one tonne bags an hour, or one bag every three minutes.

The Kakara runs on two 550hp Scania DS13 main engines as well as an auxiliary engine to run the hydraulic ring main and water pumps. 

Aimex general manager Simon Lavery said since 2009, his company had grown from automotive shop to building a strong reputation in marine engineering, from mussel harvesters to any commercial fishing boats, and steel trawlers.

One of the company's most notable builds was the FV Santy Maria in 2016, the first vessel in Moana NZ's fleet renewal project, which had cemented Aimex's reputation in marine circles. 

Lavery said the Kakara was another example of the company's progress and they planned to expand their Nelson operations in the future.

"We've done many, and we hope to do more - it's a nimble business."

Stuff