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IN THE KNOW

SEAGULL INFLATABLES CERTIFYING LIFE RAFTS Seagull Inflatables (SI), is operated by Canter de Jager and Dino Bruschi, and has been operating in Antigua for over 20 years with the distinction of being the only company in Antigua that certifies life-rafts. Dino says initially the company focused solely on life-raft servicing and some inflatable boat repairs, but from 2006 it has expanded tremendously to include servicing of most of the life-raft manufacturers world-wide, repairs and sales of inflatable boats, servicing and sales of all safety equipment connected with the marine yachting industry. Besides being the only professional repair facility for inflatable boats in Antigua, Seagull Inflatables is the only company capable of retubing an entire boat. “This is a specialised affair and we have had great success over the last 6 years in retubing boats up to 27 ft in length”. Some of these inflatables are found on the largest luxury yachts plying the waters of Europe, the USA and of course the Caribbean. Life-raft servicing remains the principal service provided by Seagull Inflatables. “Basically, the servicing of a life raft entails opening the container in a controlled environment, manually inflating the raft and then carrying out specific tests on the rafts to ensure that when they are needed they will operate as they should. Various time-expired items are found in the rafts and these need to be replaced”. Dino added that the gas cylinders also need inspection and some will need a hydro test and refill. “We have the capability to do this in house. As well as life rafts, our next largest service sector is the Personal Flotation Devices - PFD’s. These are opened out, manually inflated and visually inspected; left inflated for a set period of time and then repacked and certified”. These PFD’s are essential equipment on all sea-going vessels and their proper maintenance is vital. Another service offered solely by SI is the programming and service of EPIRB’s - Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons. These units have become smaller and cheaper and are now an integral part of every well-equipped cruising vessel. The batteries need replacing every few years, and sometimes they need to be reprogrammed, both of which can be done here in Antigua at SI. 30 |

BusinessFocus • December/January 11/12

“Every year our technicians go to the USA and Europe on courses to keep up with certification requirements and to expand our list of services offered. We have recently signed with Zodiac/DBC which allows us to service commercial rafts made by them. We are the only service station between the USVI and Trinidad capable of doing these rafts,” Dino says. Each manufacturer stipulates the certification period, but generally in the Caribbean rafts need to be serviced annually if used for commercial purposes; annually if not sealed in a vacuum bag; or 2 or 3 years depending on manufacturer’s specs on hermetically sealed bags. The reason for servicing safety equipment is to ensure that in the unlikely event of the unit being needed in an emergency, it operates as it should and save lives. Also, insurance companies are very strict on having all certifiable units up-to-date and ready for use. “Our greatest asset is the ability to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the yachting industry. When we were asked to source safety equipment, we went to the manufacturers and opened up a whole new outlet for equipment which is increasingly being demanded as standard by the regulating authorities,” Dino says.

Business Focus Antigua Issue 40  

As 2011 comes to a close and we enter 2012, the forecast for the world economy continues to be news of job cuts and hints of a "double dip"...

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