Trawler back from depths
DESPITE his $500,000 trawler sinking, along with $50,000 of prawns and nearly a crew of three, Cairns businessman Kevin Lock has restored his faith in the beleaguered prawn fishery and this week will relaunch the vessel.
He has sunk $1.4 million into rebuilding the 20m boat even though many others are getting out of the business because of changing regulations and licence buybacks.
Mr Lock owns about $4 million worth of licences for the East Coast, the Torres Strait and the Gulf of Carpentaria as well as four trawlers with 16 staff.
Kimissa Lee, which capsized in the Torres Strait 11 months ago, is as good as new and due back in the water later this week.
In a month, Mr Lock hopes to have the vessel plying the waters for prawns again.
While he could have pocketed the insurance money and continued working with his three other prawlers, Mr Lock decided to buy the hull from the insurers and start over.
"I’m thinking long term," Mr Lock said. "It’s always going to be there."
The 20m trawler sank 30km northeast of Coconut Island on October 17 last year. The crew of three survived 30 hours in shark-infested waters before being rescued.
The boat was salvaged and brought back to Cairns. Basically, all that was left was the hull. The trawler has been rebuilt at Norship Marine since just before Christmas. "The whole boat has been sandblasted and we started off fresh," Mr Lock said.
"All that was left was the propeller, the prop shaft, the hull and some rigging. Everything else is new. There’s nothing
second hand here."
That includes a new $140,000 prawn sorting area, freezers, a galley, the wheelhouse, crew
accommodation, full airconditioning, hydraulics, new Cummins six cylinder diesel engines and generators.
It is so state-of-the-art that as well as auto pilot electronics there is a small joystick instead of a wheel to steer the vessel.
"It would have to be the most modern in the Cairns fleet of 50," Mr Lock said. "I’m here for the long term. There are no new ones being built any more."
Mr Lock has been in the business just three years.
"People thought I was mad but I’ve always wanted to be in the business," he said.
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Pride of the fleet: Cairns businessman Kevin Lock eyes the future as his rebuilt trawler, Kimissa Lee, waits for the water after overturning in the Torres Strait last year (below). Main picture: MIKE WATT
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