In a month, Bolgatty Island could well become a stopover for the rich and famous, and their multimillion-dollar yachts. This picturesque little island in Kochi, off the coast of Kerala, is the venue for India’s first marina, which will be inaugurated soon. Typically, Kochi is the first stop in the Arabian Sea for yachts setting sail from the Mediterranean and heading to Singapore via the Suez Canal.
For Malav Shroff and Sujay Chohan, co-founders of Ocean Blue, the marina is the start of what they hope will be a widespread movement across India to take up boating.
Port of call: Kochi has traditionally been the first stop for vessels heading east from the Mediterranean.
Shroff and Chohan gave up high-flying corporate jobs to start Ocean Blue in 2006. They are both boating enthusiasts; Shroff was India’s representative at the 2004 Olympics in the 49er class (a category of sailboat). The company deals in yacht sales, marina development and is also building fibreglass powerboats with Mahindra and Mahindra under the name Mahindra Odyssea. The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) invited tenders for the marina, and Ocean Blue won the bid. For the Rs20 crore project, KTDC has built a clubhouse and a 20-room hotel at the marina. “There will be a real jump in boat sales when marinas fall into place,” says Chohan.
The Kochi marina will start out with 25 slips, or parking spots, which will be expanded to 50 slips. Chohan expects it to be half occupied by visiting yachts most of the year.
Currently, boats are moored in the open sea and Indian boat owners require a small motorboat to transport them from the shore to their yachts. In a marina, the boat will always be accessible. “The owners will be able to treat the boats as places to entertain. They can call their friends and arrange for catering without depending on a boat to take them back and forth to shore,” says Chohan. The marina also connects the boat directly to fuelling, power and sewage disposal lines.
Ocean Blue is also in talks with the governments of Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat to build marinas.