The Kerala houseboat, tourism's hottest new attraction, graces the waters with a trail of history behind it. It is the contemporary version of the "Kettuvallom" or "boat with knots", the traditional country craft of Kerala. 80 feet long, these giant boats were once built by tying together massive planks of wood. Once used as rice boats, a part of it was covered with bamboo and coir to be used as a restroom and kitchen for the crew. A properly maintainedKettuvallom lasted for generations. The advent of road transportation of cargo pushed these ingenious boats to the verge of extinction. Today this utilitarian country craft has undergone an exciting evolution. Thanks to an innovative holiday idea.

Scientifically designed fibreglass houseboats

Samudra Shipyard has been building boats for more than three decades. Currently, true to its penchant for innovation, it is replacing wood with fibreglass while making luxury houseboats. These scientifically designed and tested holiday cruise boats have become a benchmark in modern-day boat building.

The luxurious furnished houseboat gracing the backwaters is the hottest thing to happen to tourism in India. This exotic barge meant for leisure cruises comes with 2 and 3 attached bedrooms, modern toilets, a snug living room, an open lounge and a kitchen. More than a house built to float on water, it can actually be a cruise boat or a floating restaurant.

Age-old tradition. New-age technology

Samudra Shipyard has opened fresher insights into the making of a modern houseboat. Earlier in the Kettuvallam, the hull used to bear all the weight. But with the most notable addition of the superstructure, the problem of stability has come up. Safety too has been another problem all through. Samudra's pioneering introduction of scientific design into its new-age fibreglass houseboat tackles all these issues comprehensively.

The making of a flawless houseboat

Running on an inboard diesel engine, Samudra's fibreglass houseboat is the result of extensive R&D. The hull is put through a tank-testing facility at the Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Chennai, the only such facility in India.

The best brains in India work behind the fibreglass houseboat. The project is undertaken jointly with the Advanced Composites Division of the Technology Information & Forecasting Assessment Council (TIFAC), New Delhi. TIFAC is a division under the Department of Science & Technology, forecasting future technological requirements for all sectors. TIFAC's Advanced Composites Division, earlier headed by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, the honourable President of India now offers assistance to all composite-related sectors.

In fact the President during his last visit to Kerala, recommended a ten point programme for the development of the state as a whole. One among them was tourism and Samudra is trying to play a key role in its own inimitable manner.

The hull of the houseboat, designed at IIT Chennai, is made by virtually eliminating wood. Making it maintenance-free and eco-friendly. Space-age technology, like the one employed in the making of the fuselage of Boeing aircraft (vacuum bagging), is pressed into use. The Industrial Design Centre, a wing of IIT Mumbai, designs the entire fibreglass superstructure. IIT Kharagpur and the Department of Tourism Kerala are also part of the project along with Samudra.

Samudra - Where technology modernizes tradition

Starting as a small crafts company, Samudra has come a long way over the years. It has been introducing lasting technological advantages on an ongoing basis. At present it is the only ISO 9001:2000 certified company in its field of activity. At the helm of the company are professionals with an enduring passion for the tradition, art and science of boat building.

Today, Samudra Shipyard, though it does not build bulk carriers, does not just stop with small crafts either. It designs and builds all-weather seagoing crafts as well as backwater and inland crafts. From a 3 metre canoe to fibreglass houseboats up to 27 metres long, Samudra's product range includes power boats up to 750 HP, luxury cruisers, catamarans, water sport equipment {parasails, row / pedal/ canoes) and Life-saving accessories.The fishing boat range starts from 3 metres up to 23 metres.

Samudra's operational area is spread over 4 key sectors: Tourism, Defence, Fishing and Water sports.

The major buyers are international NGOs and Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. Samudra is the major supplier of patrol boats to waterborne police stations in Kerala.

One of Samudra's major achievements in 2005 is the supply of 300 fishing boats to the tsunami affected areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The sails are unfurled, catching wind from wherever it comes. Setting out toward ever-widening horizons, Samudra's glorious cruise is on.

Sculpted by tradition. Customized by 21st century technology

Samudra goes that extra nautical mile while exploring the market trends and requirements. From the making of hull, Samudra's fibreglass houseboats are open to customization to a large extent. For instance, a cladding can be put on top, if needed. And since it is modular, the boat can be easily converted into a hotel, library or a dance floor. The boat is ideal for day cruising and also excels as a houseboat with 2 & 3 bedrooms.

Just one of the many customization options.