The seven wind farm supply boats built to withstand the harshest environment having been fitted with Raymarine technology

June 2010 – With much focus on the energy generated from offshore wind turbines, the boats that supply vital personnel and supplies to the farms operate a rigorous 24/7schedule. A fleet of seven supply boats have been manufactured by South Boats for Turbine Transfers Ltd, part of Holyhead Towing Company, to support wind farms in areas as diverse as the UK’s East Coast, Scotland, Wales, Belgium and Denmark. The 15m aluminium catamarans are built to withstand the harshest environment, and to offer complete reliability, from the hull design and engine systems through to the latest Raymarine high-tech marine electronics and safety equipment.

The vessels are designed to carry 12 passengers, with up to five tonnes of cargo, and to withstand sea states of 1.5 metres, ensuring essential personnel or supplies can be transported to the wind farms at any time of the day or night. “These boats are designed for maximum reliability,” says Ben Colman of Cowes-based South Boats, “and the navigation, electronics and safety systems fitted on board have to match these demanding standards.”

The Raymarine equipment on the South Boats is specified, installed and serviced by Boat Electrics and Electronics, which has bases in Scotland and Cowes. Each vessel has an identical fit out, as skippers move between vessels depending on their shifts. The system comprises two E120 and an E80 multi function display. There is a DSM300 for high definition sonar data, and radar input from a 4kW HD Digital open array and 4kW HD Digital radome. Three Raymarine CAM100 cameras are mounted on board – located on the vessel’s mast infrastructure, at the aft of the vessel for ease of steering and docking, and in the passenger saloon – feeding images through to the multifunction display screens.

Simon Coleman of Boat Electrics and Electronics says Raymarine’s range and comprehensive choice of products enables fully integrated systems to be built around the needs of commercial and leisure users. Supplying equipment to vessels ranging from tankers, tugs and ferries through to racing yachts and blue water cruisers, Coleman says Raymarine’s pedigree in the commercial sector assures leisure users that they also have the best and most reliable equipment on board.

With the South Boat contract for Turbine Transfers, a specific requirement for the skippers was that the bridge systems could be quickly and easily personalised. Working on a rota means that skippers switch between boats, and often want to set up screen views and nav data to suit their individual requirements. This also enables them to see and access all the available data quickly and easily.

The new HD Digital Radar has proved particularly popular with skippers, reports Coleman. “With radar, everyone used to change the gain or clutter each time, and now there’s no need as it’s completely automatic and the detail from the image is outstanding. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on Raymarine’s High Definition Digital 4kW radar. The images available on the large E Series colour screen, even through heavy rain, are exceptional.”

Coleman also likes the fact that Raymarine equipment is easy to install. “The integration is excellent, and you really can take it out the box, install, power on and you’re good to go. We have to ensure that these boats operate to their full capacity on a 24/7 basis, so we don’t have any time for failures or long service requirements. If something does get damaged it’s easy to swap out equipment and get the boat back into operation. We always get excellent support from Raymarine and there’s always someone there on the end of a phone line if we do need information or support.”