All American Marine, Inc., announced the launch of the Condor Express, Southern California's first quad-jet powered catamaran charter boat. The catamaran's new owner, Capt. Fred Benko
, set out recently from Bellingham's Cruise Terminal for Santa Barbara, where the boat will be used for whale watching tours and other functions between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. The Condor Express is All American Marine's 10th Teknicraft high-speed aluminum power catamaran.
In addition to serving both tourists and scientists interested in whale watching, the boat will also be used for dinner cruises, weddings and other celebrations, as well as marine education for children. Its advanced audio/visual system, with high-definition plasma screens mounted in the main cabin, can even display live footage being recorded by divers underwater. Measuring 72 x 26.5 ft., the boat displaces 118,200 pounds when full, accommodates 149 passengers and three crew members, and cruises at 28-30 knots.
"During its very first sea trial the boat reached 43.7 knots at 100 percent power," said Benko, "which surprised us all. But, what is really excellent about the CONDOR Express is that it cruises so efficiently at a wide range of speeds." In fact, during sea trials this past week, there was little difference in the boat's fuel consumption between the cruising speeds of 20 knots and 30 knots (2.1 gallons per nautical mile and 2.2 gallons per nautical mile respectively). With its 2,000-gallon fuel capacity, cruising range at average load is over 800 nm. And at just 67 percent power, the CONDOR Express is able to cruise at 28 knots when fully laden, an efficiency which "is just unheard of" remarked Benko. Such low power requirements will also significantly increase the engines' longevity. Benko's current boat makes one trip per day at 10 knots in a little under three hours to the Channel Islands, located 25 miles off shore from Santa Barbara. The CONDOR Express, however, "should cut our travel time from three hours to one," said Benko. "Now we will be able to make two trips per day-sometimes three. This boat enables those who have always wanted to see the whales, but are reticent to stay out at sea all day, to make the trip comfortably." Benko expects the CONDOR Express to begin commercial service as early as March 8, 2002. A unique hull shape and foil-assisted design cushions the ride even through the Santa Barbara Channel's waves that sometimes swell to 6-8 ft. The boat's four 740-hp Detroit Series 60 14-lt diesel engines and quad Hamilton 362 waterjets are also safer around the marine mammals, and a nontoxic no-foul paint on the hull adds to its eco-friendliness. Two Nor Pro 20 kW Isuzu diesel generators serves the vessel's 110 volt electrical requirements. "The Condor Express meets
all our criteria for speed, comfort, and efficiency," said Benko.
All American Marine, Inc., has an exclusive agreement with Teknicraft Design, Ltd., of Auckland, New Zealand, to build its designs on North America 's west coast. "These vessels are truly the next generation in catamaran design, optimizing speed, comfort, safety, and economy," says All American Marine's CEO, Matt Mullett.