Alwoplast

chile

On the rugged coast of Chile, about an hour flight south of the capitol, Santiago, is a boatbuilding oasis called Alwoplast. Started 25 years ago by a German boatbuilder and circumnavigator named Alex Wopper, Alwoplast has grown into one of the preeminent multihull builders in the Americas. And I might add, probably the single best deal anywhere in the world. If there is another yard that provides such high quality at as reasonable a cost, I have not heard about them.

For decades, far away from the yachting centers of the world, Alex and his team have quietly built catamarans for pleasure and commercial use all the while improving their facilities, skills and management. Now almost 50 strong, Alwoplast employs craftsmen, machinists, a bookkeeper, a computer manager, two degreed naval architects and a degreed mechanical engineer as an exceptional shop manager.

At present, Alwoplast has three large adjoining boatbuilding sheds, all heated and air conditioned, which contain a joiner shop, metal fabricating shop, paint booth, extensive store room, offices and conference room. Crucially, they also have a Travelift that can haul boats up to 30' beam and their own substantial docks for boats they have built as well as for transients. It is a facility that most boatbuilders dream about.

Because of the long distance to suppliers, they not only need to be very organized about how they procure materials, but they have also developed in-house capabilities for fabrication of many things not typical of a small scale boat builder. I am constantly amazed by how quickly and efficiently they can custom make a missing stainless steel part that would otherwise cause a huge delay. "Oh, no problem we can make that." And six hours later the part is installed on the boat.

Finding an excellent boatbuilder with equally good management skills can be a challenging task. The person with an artistic bent who is drawn to boat building is quite often not trained to efficiently run a business on a day to day basis. Stories of long delays and cost overruns abound in the world of custom boats. Not so at Alwoplast. The last two A57's built there were launched within a couple days of the original contract date, at the contract price.

Critically, Alwoplast is financially stable and with no debt. They build on a fixed price contract and have the ability to perform on that contract.

Alwoplast immediately saw the potential in the Atlantic 57 and made a substantial commitment to tooling and a new climate controlled shed for painting. This investment has improved the end product as well as reduced construction costs. The Atlantic 57 is not really a production boat as it is built with all the same care and materials that would be used in a custom boat. However, with the existing moulds and efficiency in the construction process, the cost of the A57 has been reduced to "production boat" levels. An extraordinary achievement.

Owners of the Alwoplast built A57's are uniformly delighted with their boats and highly praise the company. In the end, that's all that matters.