Earlier this year, Hawaii’s Pacific Whale Watch Foundation took delivery of their latest catamaran, the M/V Ocean Discovery, from Island Boats of Jeanerettt, La.
Like the earlier, Seattle-built M/V Ocean Voyager, a pair of Cummins KTA19 M4 engines delivering 700 hp each to propellers powers the new vessel. The engines on the new boat turn through Twin Disc “Quickshift” gearboxes allowing the vessel to be stopped and reversed quickly in emergency situations without harming the passengers.
The vessel’s varied seating arrangement provides excellent viewing of the Hawaiian scenery and aquatic life at speeds up to 26-knots. At 65 by 28-feet the new boat has seating for 163 and is licensed to a passenger capacity up to 149 people. An interesting innovation on this vessel is the use of a soft composite material to cover the rudders and skegs in front of the props to protect any marine life in the event of a collision. The boat’s builder had the molds for the rubber polymar coated rudders made by APEX CNC of Morgan City, La.
, president and founder of Pacific Whale Foundation, explains, "Our goal was to create something that was simple yet elegant in its design. We wanted a device that would not inhibit the vessel's maneuverability and present little mass or surface area with which to collide with marine life."
Information on the organization’s page goes on to explain, “The resulting Whale Protection Device is situated on the underside of the boat, in front of the propellers. It is foil-shaped, and made of aluminum, and then repeatedly coated with a rubber polymer, to have smooth, soft rounded edges. If a whale heads towards the running gear of the vessel, the Whale Protection Device will guide it downward, away from harm. If the whale should bump the device, it will breakaway as it also deflects the whale away. "To further protect the whales from the vessel's running gear, we designed foil shaped rudders from the same soft rubberized materials using the same procedure,” comments Kaufman. “Should an animal come in contact with our rudders, they will flex and in an extreme impact break away to minimize harm to the whale and the vessel.”
As with their earlier boats, the Ocean Discovery will be operated on a blended bio-diesel.