Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Launching of a Big Cat

People who have never seen the process may wonder how a large catamaran is moved from the build site to the launch site, if they are not close to each other. Recently a DH550 catamaran was launched at Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, South Africa and it was built about 30 miles away in a rural location. This series of photos and videos sent to me by the builders tell the transport story nicely.

The new boat, named "Friends Forever", was built by a team headed by Jean Jaques (JJ) Provoyeur and Richard (Thirsty) Bertie. JJ Provoyear is the owner of the boat and it was built on his property. The rig is being set up this weekend and we should soon see sailing photos.
Inside the building shed, being readied for transport
The men in this photo give scale to the boat. Ready for the transporter to be backed in.
This is a big boat, so it needs specialist transport equipment to get it to the water. Cape Town is the home of a few production catamaran builders, so there are transporters available that are ideal for this job. In countries where this sort of project is more rare, large flat-bed transporters from other industries can do the job as long as the boat is properly supported.
On the transporter and moved out of the shed, with the keels still to be fitted.
Cruising keels were test-fitted before leaving the build site but only fitted at the launch site. Road clearance would have been an issue if transported with the keels in place.
With a large package like this, it is very important to research the route before the build even starts. There is no point building at a convenient location then finding that you can't get it to the water. That means finding a route that is wide enough and high enough for the boat to fit through on the trailer. It may also mean having people on the boat during transport to lift lift power cables and tree branches if they are hanging a bit low.

It also needs liaison with and permits from local authorities to move the load on the roads. It may need narrow roads to be closed to other traffic and for police escorts to help it through congested areas and along heavily trafficked highways.
Negotiating tight corners can be an issue due to the width of the load, even on roads designed for use by tractor/trailers. This boat fills up three lanes of highway, which can become interesting when negotiating tight corners. That is when it really helps to have a transporter that has steerable wheels all along its length. These can be seen in the video below, at about 0:30, where the trailer wheels all steer to move the back end sidewards when they have a very tight 90 degree corner to negotiate at a traffic light, without taking out any poles nor damaging the boat on the curbs.
After being on the move from mid-morning through to well after dark, "Friends Forever" arrived at her launch site, at Royal Cape Yacht Club. There her cruising keels were fitted and other preparations completed over the next two days before she was launched.
Crane lowering the spreader frame over the boat preparatory to fitting the slings.
In the water for the first time. The end of her first journey.
At time of writing the rig of "Friends Forever" had still to be stepped, prior to sea trials. Thanks to Esther Provoyeur for the photos and videos.

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