South Africa has a robust boat-building industry. There's Admiral, Matrix, Two Oceans, Pacer, Maverick, Celtic, Afri-Cat … to name just a few. Many of the newly manufactured boats are launched and commissioned right here at Royal Cape Yacht Club. One of the most fascinating activities here in the early morning is watching a new boat being launched. Leopard catamarans are built by Robertson and Caine in nearby Woodstock. One of the largest catamaran manufacturers in the world, about three new cats roll off their production line each week. Huge flat bed trucks with custom cat cradles pull up to the yacht club gates in the early morning and take turns backing into the yard. It doesn't matter that it's cold, dark and foggy.
Watching a 48' catamaran being raised and then lowered into the water 20' below causes me angst even though it's not my boat and these guys do it all the time. There's a moment of anticipation when the yacht is hoisted and the straps tighten and begin to creak. The boat is suspended from the crane and slowly swinging out over the water and my heart starts to race.
As soon as the hulls touch the water, the waiting crew jumps aboard before the boat is even fully lowered. They scurry around and finally crank on the engines and the cat comes to life in the water for the first time.
Then the mast is lowered and stepped and the rigging is attached.
It's an efficient process and within a couple hours, the new cat is moored waiting for the rest of its commissioning and subsequent sea trials to begin. Many are headed to Sunsail or Mooring charter centers throughout the world and a high percentage of the rest are destined for export to foreign shores … like the USA.
Once they're commissioned, they move into berths next to us and wait for crew to either sail them to their destinations or load them onto ships for transport.
It's not just catamarans though. Recently, there have been several ambulance boats delivered and destined for Ghana.
They're sitting down the dock from us while they're being commissioned and we invited ourselves aboard for a quick look since we'd never seen ambulance boats before. Built right here in Cape Town, they'll be transported by ship to Ghana. These boats are used primarily on rivers and lakes and equipped with two 250HP engines to insure fast emergency runs.
Obviously, I have too much time on my hands if I'm watching boats being launched, but quite honestly, it beats polishing stainless.