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Gladding-Hearn Builds Whale-Watching Cat

The success of fast ferries for commuter and excursion trips during the past decade has led to an order for the nation's first Incat-designed high-speed passenger vessel, specifically built for whale-watching.

According to the builder, Gladding- Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., licensee for Australia-based International Catamaran Designs (Incat), the new 92-foot, 149-passenger catamaran is being built for Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., a whale watch and excursion vessel operator in Bar Harbor, Maine. Delivery of the vessel, for which keel was laid in December 1993, is set for June 1994. The vessel will have a beam of about 30 feet and a depth of eight feet.

Unlike other catamarans built by Gladding-Hearn, the all-aluminum vessel incorporates Incat's unique Z-bow configuration, adapted from the designer's wave-piercing catamaran. The resulting longer waterline improves the vessel's high-speed performance and adds buoyancy for passenger crowding on the foredeck, explained shipyard officials. It also includes bow pulpits and wide walkaround decks.

Powered by twin 815-hp Detroit Diesel DDEC engines, the catamaran is designed for 25- to 27-knot speeds, which owner Marc Brent said will allow him to make three daily whale watch trips instead of two. "We generally travel about 33 miles offshore to find whales," Mr. Brent explained. "In our older boats, this trip would take two hours; now we can make the same trip in half the time, and by running smaller, more efficient engines, we can travel farther without increasing our fuel costs." Mr. Brent added that the vessel's 25-foot-wide main cabin should increase his dinner cruise business.

The heated main cabin features upholstered seating, tables, a snack bar and three heads, including one for disabled passengers. Resilient mounts between the hulls and superstructure reduce noise and vibration.

For more information on Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding,

 
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