OKEAN surprised the national market with a rapid success abroad. The company is run by the brothers Katia and Nércio Fernandes, and has a history that goes far beyond boats sold or brilliant ideas of technological models.
The Fernandes family has a great passion for navigation. Nércio, an entrepreneur in the technology sector, came to accomplish the feat of sailing from Florida to Brazil on a 38-foot vessel with a command only on the fly, together with sisters and friends on many stretches of the crossing. It was not long before Nércio, encouraged by his sister Karla, who died during the project’s creation period, thought about building his own boats. “Everything actually started with her and this love that everyone had for boats”. The brand name is a tribute to the deceased sister, so the C of the word Ocean was replaced by K by Kau.
The initial idea was to build an 80-foot trawler. Things have evolved. The option for a smaller, 50-foot vessel soon emerged as a faster and more interesting way. When they got in touch with the Italian project Paolo
Ferragni, they fell in love with the different, innovative design, especially with the side decks that opened. Impressed by the render, the entrepreneur decided to continue the project and for this he counted on his sister Katia, who had already worked with him for years and specialized in projects for the implementation of business management software. “One night my brother called me and said he was sending me a boat project, for me to open and see what he thought. I opened it and said: ‘Gee, cool! Nice’. And he said: ‘Look better’. I still remember him saying ‘look better’ and then when I saw it was the rendering with the flaps open, I said: ‘Nércio what an extraordinary thing’ ”.
Before long, Nércio and his sister were embarking for Genoa, to meet Paolo and his project. “I only met Amilton on the plane. At check-in ”, recalled Katia. The arrival in Genoa happened during the Boat
Show and it was there that the trio met the designer and could see and learn more about the project. When they returned to Brazil with the project closed, the partners lacked a place to start the shipyard. They came to Guarujá, to meet a colleague who had a shed. Katia remembers the first days in the new warehouse of the then boutique shipyard “We negotiated and took this first warehouse here, that small room without air conditioning, sun on the back, we started like this”.
After having the shed and the name, OKEAN the company had the ambition to be a boutique, where boats would make for order. So it took almost a year to make the boat molds. The delay can be explained because the idea is to make a definitive mold, which would not need any rework after opening.
After the molds were ready, it was time to build the first boat. Exactly for being the first, the company did a lot of tests to see what worked and what got better. For Katia, this perfection has both positive and negative sides. “This is very characteristic of my brother, he is extremely detailed. It was eight times the kitchen, five times the suite, and in the end it was really cool because we ended up making a boat of proportions and optimization of very cool space. It has its penalty: the term of the first boat was longer than expected.
Even when he was in the construction phase, Nércio took the 50’s project to the United States, to present it to HMY, one of the largest boat distributors in the USA, they liked it for being very innovative and started to follow the construction. For Nércio and OKEAN, a partnership with this company would be “the best of all worlds”, because it would place OKEAN directly in the largest market in the world and Brazil was going through great difficulties.
Nércio was encouraged to start the 80 feet project.
50 was not ready yet when the businessman went to HMY and asked to speak to the company’s vice president. It was at that moment that he revealed that he was not only making the 50 and revealed the blades and the 80’s design. With the new model, Nércio recalls the reaction of the Americans: “The Vice President said: hey, now I’m really interested. And how is 50? ”. Nércio then invited the businessman to come to Brazil to personally know the factory and the model. The vice president sent Arthur, who was developing the brands for HMY. “We went out on the day that the sea was a demon. It was the only day he had here, and I said: ‘Look, the sea is bad’. And he said: ‘Let’s go! Don’t you trust your boat? ’And he came back delighted”.
With the positive visit, HMY started to accompany the shipyard and soon they made an agreement and sent the first model to the United States. “I sent the first boat in the face and courage, that is, an investment of mine. We produced number two, to send to the United States now. Number 3 was sold here in Brazil, number 4 they sold there in the United States, number 5 already left with 55, number 6 already goes there for the Boat Show together with 55 ”.