Building Cats in Brazil

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by caribmon, Apr 11, 2002.

  1. caribmon
    Joined: Nov 2001
    Posts: 24
    Likes: 1, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 13
    Location: Netherlands - Brazil

    caribmon Junior Member

    Looking for partners/investors

    My name is Donald Brunton III and I currently have a boatyard in Ilhabela in Brazil. I recently completed a 63 foot catamaran for an incredible price. Following is what we would like to do and we are interested in parties who may like to get involved from a design, investment, purchase or what-have-you angle...

    What makes Brazil less
    expensive? How about US$20 a day for skilled labor? It does not take a
    rocket scientist to grind fiberglass - they just have to be watched. How
    about Stainless Steel subsidized by the government, which Brazil does? How
    about the fact that West Systems buys their resins from Brazil? We are not
    talking about a small island in the Caribbean here. Brazil manufactures a
    lot of products and right now the Currency (Brazilian Rial) is trading at
    2.5 to the US$ which makes it way beyond the Euro-Dollar comparison as 1
    Rial has the buying power of $1 in Brazil.

    Try building a 63-foot catamaran (daycharter) licensed for 125
    People anywhere else in the world for under UUS$200,000 using Red Cedar
    and West System quality resins. "Southern Cross" would have cost closer to US$500,000 - to build anywhere in unionized France or USA.

    Don, the boatyard owner and builder is here in St. Maarten at the moment. I
    have some of the website loaded at which shows what we are doing and more about the yard.

    I am Don’s Marketing Director, recently partnered, and am working with him
    on finding some people to develop his business and pump out some boats. I am
    also the Marketing Director for Island Water World, Caribbean Duty Free
    Chandleries in St. Maarten and Grenada and will be his primary person for
    sourcing stuff outside of Brazil. The idea is to finish the boats, utilize
    as much of the cheap labor and products produced in Brazil, and then move
    them up to St. Maarten to do the final outfit. With purchasing online via a
    US address in Miami and from Europe shipping direct to the French side (the
    island is half Dutch and half French), shipping stuff here is duty and tax
    free will save us money, especially on electronics, which are very expensive
    in Brazil. We are right in the heart of world’s busiest Catamaran charterboat area. Lets sell some Cats.

    Sounds Viable? It is very much so.

    Don plans to move the operation north from Ilhabela (near Sao Paolo), up to
    the state of Bahia, where labor is even cheaper, the Caribbean is closer and the weather is drier.

    Let’s talk about Don. He is currently based in Ilhabela, near Sao Paolo,
    where he built a 12-room guesthouse and lives with his Brazilian wife (an
    architect) and daughter. His fully equipped yard and legal yard is currently
    located there.

    Don did his boatbuilding apprenticeship with Creekmore Boats in Rhode
    Island, and then headed south where he built his uncle’s 68-foot wooden
    Schooner in Panama. He sailed from NY to Brazil on a 22-footer with his wife
    and child over the mouth of the Amazon (the smallest boat ever to do so). He
    then began work on building a boatyard in Brazil and completed Southern
    Cross, a 63-foot catamaran, then they ran the boat for a couple of years as
    skipper and mate team. He speaks English, Portuguese, German and Spanish.
    After the events of 9-11 and the crash of the Brazilian currency (which is
    very beneficial to us now), and after selling out his interest in the boat,
    he decided to come north, back to St. Maarten and look at more possibilities
    here in developing his business in Brazil.

    He has a trained team (US$20 per man per day) with whom he pumped out the
    big catamaran, designed for tourism and licensed for 120 passengers. Besides
    the low cost of labor there are MANY other benefits to building boats in
    Brazil. His purchasing contacts in Brazil are invaluable. He buys epoxy
    resins from a factory that ships their product to the States to a company
    called West Systems. Sounds familiar? He is tight with Andre Rossi, a
    renowned Naval Engineer and Designer in Brazil. Tinned marine wire can be
    bought at extraordinary prices in Brazil… as can Red Cedar, marine quality
    plywood, upholstery, safety glass, kitchen equipment, stainless steel and
    fabrication (chain plates, stanchions, bowsprits, biminis, dodgers etc). All
    steel, (including stainless tubing), is subsidized by the government. There
    is also a company in Rio called Nautec that makes aluminum masts to a very
    high level. Then there is Ipe, otherwise known as Brazilian Teak, which has
    all the properties of a Trinidad Teak (though slightly inferior to a Burmese
    Teak). Dacron sails can be made in Brazil at a great price… and toilets and
    sinks and chain. One can even get Airex in Brazil. And Don knows where to

    The only real areas that Don says there are problems with sourcing and
    prices are electronics, winches, turnbuckles, watermakers etc. Basically,
    the high-end stuff.

    “The bottom line is you build a boat for half the price,” quotes Don. “There
    are three factors involved in that – one is the extremely low labor costs,
    two is the excellent exchange rate, and three is Brazil’s large and
    diversified economy means we can buy top products that are produced right

    In terms of what we can do… For a 60 footer depending on design and material
    factors a bare hull boat (including interior work though – cabins, doors
    etc) can be built for about US$250,000. Finished properly as a cruising cat, we are talking about a boat worth well closer to a million in retail value. Basically bare hull means wiring
    installation, a finished interior but not the rig, sails, engine,
    electronics or windlasses etc. How much gets done in Brazil and how much
    gets done in the Caribbean is dependent of the choice of the buyer.
    Eventually we will take contracts for one and build two or three and get
    into production.

    We are very interested in perhaps forming a partnership – seed money is
    needed though. One or two orders would get us on the road.


    Richard Kastelein
  2. Cristian
    Joined: May 2002
    Posts: 7
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10

    Cristian Junior Member

    Dear Richard:

    I'm a chilean entrepreneur.
    For a couple of years, up to the Real devaluation, I owned an import-export company in Sao Paulo.
    Ilhabela is my favourite spot worldwide.
    I used to sail there on weekends when I worked in Brazil.
    I'm still messing arround boats, thinking into building for myself a charter cat but for the cold Patagonia.

    Please send more info about the boats you can built, but smaler, about 30 feet long.

    Best regards,

    Cristian Barraza.
  3. Greg Beers
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 8
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Rhode Island, USA

    Greg Beers Junior Member


    i just posted a thread on the boat building forum, and as a newbie i don't know how to link it to this one, so i'll restate it.

    my post is regarding a client who is interested in launching a production power boat line starting with a 38' downeast style powerboat. we are designing the boat and looking for builders overseas. there is an obvious propensity to look towards china, which we are, but we also want to look at other options.

    as one might imagine, cost is a principal concern. we are ready to send conceptual drawings and a detailed specification for the boat to builders in order to solicit bids. we are anticipating one boat the first year with production running at a four-to-five boats-a-year pace after that.

    anyone with suggestions, please speak up! we are interested in asia and other low labor cost regions.

    not a cat? but maybe you would be interested in such a project?
  4. caribmon
    Joined: Nov 2001
    Posts: 24
    Likes: 1, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 13
    Location: Netherlands - Brazil

    caribmon Junior Member

    Brazil boats is interested

    Hi Greg,

    We are interested in your project. Please contact me at by email and we can discuss further.

    We are currently building a 51 foot Malcolm Tennant New Yorker (see ).

    There are many advantages to building in Brazil over China including proximity to the markets in the US and Europe, subsidized steel (stainless, raw and galvanized), our company has hands-on American and Canadian boatbuilders as well as a solid communications team (in English) using the latest technology such as streaming video and digitial imagery on a daily basis for updates... our drawback importation status (we don't pay duty or taxes on items such as electronics, engines etc) on foreign goods needed for completion of export products (boats) and an abundance of raw materials such as farmedexotic woods are available.

    I recomment you talk with someone who has experience with boatbuilders in China, Graham Pfister of TrawlerCat Marine.

    Salaries here are very competitive and a large talent pool in Sao Paulo (16 million people) is less than two hours away.

    We are located on the island of Ilhabela (sailing capital of Brazil) and currently use Cadcam technology for cutting forms with plans for further development in that area. With this technology we are not necessarily driven to the 'mold' for economical boat production and are open to the construction of a variety of vessels.

    I can also be reached by phone at (55) 12 38965764


    Richard Kastelein
    Brazil Boats
  5. freeman
    Joined: Jul 2004
    Posts: 4
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: canada

    freeman New Member

    caribmon, how far along are you on the malcom tennant 51 footer? We are in the process of building a malcom tennant new yorker 57 footer, just getting ready to glass the wing deck on to the hulls,your strongback looks identical to the one we made, all cut by a cnc machine. This is the biggest project for us. I`ve built close to 30 glass boats, the biggest being 36 feet single hull, it just blows me away every time i stand back and look at it.

  6. caribmon
    Joined: Nov 2001
    Posts: 24
    Likes: 1, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 13
    Location: Netherlands - Brazil

    caribmon Junior Member

    Brazil Boats

    Hi Freeman,

    I sent you a message. Please contact me by email for further dialogue on our similar projects.

    We have launched a Live Cam at now which shows the process from above in 'close' to real time with 10 frames a minute which is pretty cool (during operating hours). We have also shot about 700 images (dailies) to document the process so far.


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