Skills show in his craft

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By IAN GRANT

WHEN John Mar­getts left a se­cure job with the Gold Coast Riviera group 13 years ago and packed his boat­build­ing tools to set­tle in Cairns, many of his for­mer work­mates felt he would fall on hard times.

They all learnt to ap­pre­ci­ate his skill but were con­cerned he would strug­gle to earn enough money to put toast on the ta­ble.

Sure, he strug­gled in the early days when he built one co­ral trout fish­ing dory a month for lo­cal com­mer­cial fish­er­men.

His per­fec­tion­ist at­ti­tude to build­ing these knock­about open fish­ing boats with a su­per-strong fi­bre­glass mould­ing process al­most led to his down­fall.

But he was de­ter­mined to make the change from build­ing his Hooker fish­ing dories to be­ing recog­nised among Aus­tralia’s best in cus­tom-built leisure craft.

Be­ing an ex­pe­ri­enced an­gler and hav­ing the skills to de­sign and hand-shape a fe­male plug al­lowed him to grad­u­ally win mar­ket share in a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try.

Ini­tially, the de­sign and com­bined struc­tural strength of the tiller-steered Hooker 5m, which han­dled the wind­tossed off­shore en­vi­ron­ment with a high de­gree of safety, made it the boat of choice among fam­i­lies who lived in re­mote ar­eas of Cape York. There is still a strong de­mand for the baby of the Hooker range, but Mar­getts has ap­plied his de­sign skills to match an in­creas­ing move among lo­cal fish­er­men to ex­tend their bound­aries.

‘‘We cover a wide range of build­ing op­tions, from the pop­u­lar 5m pro-fish­er­man to the 8m twin-en­ginepow­ered pro-fish­er­man (pic­tured), which re­ally qual­i­fies as a mini-game fish boat,’’ he said. ‘‘Our most re­cent ven­ture has been in­volved with build­ing high-pow­ered ski boats and se­cur­ing a con­tract to build 20 boats for the Pa­pua New Guinea Gov­ern­ment.’’

It is hard to say which Hooker model – from the 5m open dory to the 8m off­shore voy­ager – car­ries the ti­tle as the flag­ship of the fleet.

Gen­er­ally, the size and sea com­fort pro­vided by the 6.7m walk-around cabin-style ves­sel has been ac­cepted as the ideal fam­ily boat. The neatly-styled cabin pro­vides se­cu­rity when the weather turns nasty, while the hull shape han­dles the bumps and the freefall that can oc­cur in reef wa­ters when the af­ter­noon breeze blows in. This rep­u­ta­tion proves that John Mar­getts made the right life­style choice 13 years ago.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion from hooker­

One of the Hooker range of boats is the 8m twin-engine-pow­ered pro-fish­er­man

John Mar­getts has se­cured a con­tract to build 20 boats for the Pa­pua New Guinea Gov­ern­ment

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