Tallie Marine has been an institution on the West Coast, the fabric of their history tied into the community of St Helena Bay for 30 years now.
With over 160 boats launched over the last 3 decades, Tallie Marine’s boats are well known and recognised both in Africa and abroad. However, many people today are unaware of where and how it all began. Now, just over 30 years later, we pay homage to Tallie Marine’s humble beginnings.
The first Tallie’s emigrated here four generations ago from Malta, where they were traditionally boat builders by trade. With their skills and knowledge from a long heritage in the business, they continued to refurbish wooden vessels here on the West Coast, passing down the knowledge of the trade through the generations.
Anton Tallie founded Tallie Marine in 1988 with his wife, Rinette as Financial Manager. Shortly thereafter, Hein Tallie, Anton’s brother joined them in 1991. For the first 7 years after the company was founded, they only did maintenance and repair to wooden vessels. Then, in 1995, the first GRP (Glass fibre reinforced Plastic) was envisioned in Anton Tallie’s mind, and so began his quest to build his own design. It was by no means an easy task, as with anything worth doing, but up until this point, Tallie Marine had no building space, no moulds and no design to build a GRP vessel.
Anton Tallie set out to design a GRP vessel from scratch using a small scale foam mould and a piece of gut tied to a bar of sunlight soap to drag the mould along the water to test the stability of the model. He worked out of a small building in the harbour, definitely not big enough to build a fishing boat in, so during this time, he secured funding to start construction on the present day factories. Four months later, the Highland Queen, a 45 ft vessel, was launched from the still-under-construction factory in the Sandy Point Harbour on 17 February 1996. They completed the construction on the building and, by now, had completed the manufacture of the own moulds for large scale builds.
With the success of their first launch, Tallie Marine began to pick up momentum, launching no less than another 10 vessels that year alone, including a 50ft and a 60ft vessel made possible by extending the existing moulds.
The natural progression was to build bigger vessels and the first 90ft vessel, Elenga Bay, was launched on 26 December 2000. The product line now included a range of vessel sizes in between and up to 90ft, for various fishing applications. The best year by far in Tallie Marine’s history was 2004, with a total of 14 vessels launched.
Tallie Marine was well established by this time, with the addition of more factory space and in-house fabrication for metal and woodwork, there was really no limit to the design and structures that Tallie Marine could create. In another pivotal move for the company, Antonie Tallie joined his mother and father in the business in 1998, having qualified from Stellenbosch University as a Mechanical Engineer.
From time to time, exciting, one-of-a-kind projects are presented to the company for manufacture. With no existing moulds for custom builds, Tallie Marine draws on the knowledge and methods handed down over the generations to create once-off moulds, by hand, out of wood, and finally converting it to GRP to do the actual build. Some examples of these include the 26m flat bottom ferry for Mozambique, the research vessel for marine research in Namibia, a 90 seater floating restaurant, also for Namibia, and the mussel cats for Blue Ocean here in the Langebaan lagoon.
The company faced many challenges through the years, through tough political landscapes and the pervasive recession that hit the country in 2009. Anton and Antonie, together with Rinette and Hein, and many of the staff at Tallie Marine who have been there since the beginning, have worked together for over 20 years.
Through hard work and determination, Tallie Marine has indeed weathered many storms. At some point though, the captain of the ship knows when it is time to pass the torch to the next generation. And so this time came for Anton too, and he felt it was the right decision to pass on the company into the capable hands of his son. Antonie has been Managing Director since the hand over in October 2016. Under his leadership, Tallie Marine is sailing into the fast-paced future, steady as she goes through new, unchartered waters.
Tallie Marine has been on the forefront of innovation and design and this trend is set to continue with Antonie at the helm. In yet another historical development for the company, Tallie Marine launched conceivably the largest GRP vessel in Africa, Meka Bay, from the factory on 21 September 2017. This boat is a staggering 100ft giant, weighing in at almost 300 tonnes and operates out of Walvis Bay in Namibia. Tallie Marine continues to push the envelope by staying ahead with new technology, which is essential in making these big ideas a reality.
Antonie’s main focus is continuously optimising mould design to make vessels more streamlined and therefore more economical to run. The number one cost involved in fishing is the fuel bill, which can be astronomical, so reducing that cost goes a long way in making these vessels sustainable. There is also an amalgamation to start using more standard stock parts. Almost every single vessel is personally customized to suit the client’s needs, so standardizing parts is somewhat tricky. However, customizations are now being done in such a way to make use of standardized parts to ensure that, should the vessel need a new part, a replacement part is on hand for immediate restoration. This practise has proved to be a successful way to provide efficient service to the client, as they no longer have to lose as much production time waiting for parts to be ordered in.
In today’s economy, with so many big companies folding under economic pressures, it is of paramount importance to Antonie to be one step ahead, and make sure that their employees can keep their jobs and Tallie Marine can continue to service the fishing industry as it has done for the past 30 years. To do this, Antonie’s grand vision is to further expand the company into Africa, and hopes to bolster more development in this relatively under serviced market