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LOCAL CONNECTION

Heave ho and away we go! BY BRENDA WEBB | PHOTOS SUPPLIED

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t was inevitable Picton’s Grant Orchard would choose a career on the sea. Born into a well-known Marlborough seafaring family – his late father Bill was a boat builder and fisherman while his uncle Gary runs a fishing and charter business out of Nopera Bay – Grant naturally gravitated towards boats and the sea. Initially they were fishing boats and his time working on them helped him develop a passion for the sea, although not necessarily one for commercial fishing. “I hated it,” he laughs, recalling his teenage days tuna fishing with his father. Today Grant still fishes – but on a recreational basis – and runs spring, summer and autumn charters on his own 13m launch, heading to the northern hemisphere in winters to work on superyachts. Grant’s love for his Marlborough Sounds backyard is reflected in the effort he has put into his charter venture on Katabatic; a boat started by his late father Bill. It has been a long and slow process, first finishing the boat and then getting the business up and running. Needless to say, Covid-19 hasn’t helped. The Orchard name is synonymous with boating in the Top of the South. For generations the Orchards have been involved in fishing, running mailboat or charter operations in the Sounds and now 42-year-old Grant has returned to his roots to do the same. 22

But Grant’s memories of his early introduction to sea life aren’t great. At 16 he went tuna fishing with his father Bill Orchard, earning such good money his father dropped his percentage rate. It wasn’t the drop in wages that forced him out – at the time Grant just didn’t like anything about the operation. “I hated it and decided I was going to be a chef – I didn’t want to be a fisherman or a boat builder,” he says. And so he headed off to get his chef’s qualifications and ended up in Melbourne working in various restaurants. But then he reached a point where he felt his career wasn’t tracking where he wanted it to. Feeling stuck in a rut he began thinking of other opportunities. About the same time, his father was diagnosed with bowel cancer and Grant returned home.

Career change

Sitting in his father’s garage was the hull of a boat – a retirement project. Bill had built five other boats but this one was pretty special and when Grant realised his father’s health meant he wouldn’t see it through to fruition he decided to tackle it himself. Disillusioned with his cooking career, Grant saw it as the perfect time to return home and pick up the project. “I remember asking Dad what it would cost to finish it and the figure $200,000 was mentioned,” says Grant. “That was going to cover all the remaining work, I think.”

... the Orchards have been involved in fishing, running mailboat or charter operations in the Sounds and now 42-year-old Grant has returned to his roots to do the same.

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