A true one-stop-shop for boat maintenance

A true one-stop-shop for boat maintenance

Passionate about fishing and boats, when Eldon Donaldson saw the Carey’s Bay Slipway advertised for sale he saw an opportunity to combine passion with livelihood.
Taking the plunge, Eldon left his job as diesel mechanic at Macraes open pit mine in September of 2016, bought the slipway and renamed it Carey’s Bay Marine Services.
“It was a big step to take but I decided that’s what I was going to do, so I had to get stuck in and do it.”
Once known as Miller and Tunnage, the business’ history stretches back more than 100 years, boasting a proud reputation for craftsmanship in building and repairing wooden boats.
“I’ve got a guy here who started with Miller and Tunnage when he was 15 and he’s 67 now. There are two other guys who did their apprenticeships here too. So there’s a lot of wooden boat building experience and knowledge still here.”
Located just around the corner from the Port Chalmers Container Wharf in Dunedin, the business consists of five slips primarily serving the commercial fleet and charter boats.
“Our biggest slip can take a maximum of a 90ft boat—about 85tonne. Two of the slipways come inside the workshop for longer-term projects and three slipways are outside. Generally we would have five boats on the slips and anything up to eight boats on the wharf around the workshop.”
Eldon says that for routine anti-fouling and a bit of paintwork they try to get the boat back into the water after 3-4 days, weather dependent.
Employing up to 13 staff with a wide range of skill sets, Carey’s Bay Marine Services provides a one-stop-shop service to its customers.
“I’ve got aluminium fabricators, shipwrights, fibreglass boat builders, painters, cabinet makers and engineers there’s everything here needed to maintain, repair and service boats and we can do anything to the boat under one roof without having to refer different parts of the work to subcontractors.”
While not currently building boats, Eldon would like the business to develop in that direction in the future.
“People all over new Zealand know that if you need wooden boat work done, this is one of the places in New Zealand where there’s a lot of history and experience in wooden boat building. We’ve extended boats and we’re currently doing a full rebuild of a really old wooden fishing boat called Viking. Basically we’ve gutted it right to the hull and we’re building complete new topsides.”

A true one-stop-shop for boat maintenance
Carey’s Bay Marine Services is currently doing a full rebuild of an old wooden fishing boat, Viking.

In the three years that Eldon has been at the helm of Carey’s Bay Marine Services he has seen significant growth with the number of boats being serviced.
He says that while some of that growth has resulted from other facilities closing down, new management and a one-stop-shop approach have also played a key role.
“We love to support the fishing industry and being part of the Carey’s Bay community. Boats come in, get sorted out and go again. We do our best to get the boat back into the water as soon as possible.”
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