Chris Lee has been a member of the Maritimo family since building the company’s first boat back in 2003. Lee left Sydney when he was about 15, and came to the Gold Coast, where he really fell in love with the water and boats. In Sydney he had not had the pleasure of being around the water, or boats, but had always liked them, and so it was easy for him to find a home in the industry.
After spending a short time with Victory Marine Racing, and also Mustang Cruisers, he began his apprenticeship with Maritimo, and was just 17 years of age at the time. Today, Chris is among a small group who floats between the real construction that happens in Fit Out One, and Fit Out Two, as well as the Waterfront Department around the corner at Hope Island where any finishing touches are performed. Lee is very clear that he enjoys being able to see the start, and the finish, along with all the parts in between.
Reflecting back to those very early days, Lee commented, “It was quite daunting for me to be on such a big boat after working at Mustang (later bought out by Maritimo), because they only built 36–40 footers, and Maritimo were building 60 footers at that stage.”
For his apprenticeship, Lee moved around all the trades from one area to another, including R&D. The benefit is the increase in your skills, something he very much appreciates now, not only given the roles he performs each day, but also because it is his turn now to teach the younger team members coming through.
“Seeing the enjoyment and self-satisfaction in the young guys when they do something they have never done before is very rewarding. For me it might be second nature, but for the new crew it’s all new, and this reminds me of when I was younger”, said Lee.
Back in the day, the company’s Founder, Bill Barry-Cotter, was ever-present, and Lee certainly enjoyed working with him, citing how he would get on the tools and actually show you how something was done.
“Every section in our industry is so important, but for me, I think that Fit Out One is the heart of boat building. It’s the joining, the glassing, the gluing and the sealing: Bringing together the hull and the flybridge. It’s just simply beautiful.”
“Fit Out Two is the finessing of the boat: The timberwork, the upholstery, the detailing, tiles and so forth. I do a lot of teak flooring on the decks. Then sometimes I go up to Waterfront where the boats go through their final checks, to do any tweaks, or tidy ups the boat might need.”
Taking a holistic view, Lee said, “It’s a great job, and I enjoy everything. However it is the people, and the camaraderie, because we have worked together for so long that really make it special. This is what Maritimo is all about. It’s the teamwork, and the pulling together. Without each other it just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter who you are, we are one team, and it must get done. I am as important as the guy behind me, and just as important as the guy in front of me.”
Leaving for only a short time to do some travelling in England, Lee was still around water for he spent time on a tugboat shipping coal on the canals.
Today, and away for Maritimo, Lee is very much around the water. “I have two girls. Christine is nearly 10, and Millie who is 8 years, so they take up most of my time now. We love to be around the water and boats. The girls are also great swimmers, and spend an hour doing non-stop laps with their squad team.”
“You know, I’m a more social sort of person. Everybody’s my friend. I’ve met a lot of people through Maritimo, especially in the early days, and we are really good friends today. My children play with their children. The people I work with everyday are the people I like to see after work, as well. It’s, how can I say; it’s my life now.”
Lee’s other passion is offshore fishing. That’s why the new Maritimo 600 Offshore Flybridge Motor Yacht really appeals to him. “That boat has an enclosed transom. It’s more of a Game Fishing Boat, which really appeals to me. The biggest fish I have ever caught was a Black Marlin. It wasn’t a really big one, and as it was catch and release we didn’t get a chance to measure it properly. I also do a lot of target fishing. This is really challenging because there’s a certain way to catch different fish.”
Maritimo is one of the Gold Coast’s largest employers, with more than 300 staff. The company has forward orders for its motor yachts stretching into 2025.
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