The excitement of boarding a superyacht by tender or from ashore often overshadows the magnificence and quality engineering of the equipment that makes such actions possible. In fact, it is probably fair to say that, when it comes to guests boarding superyachts, they probably never give such equipment even a single thought. But for those of us in the industry who know of such matters, the choice of the right crane, passerelle, boarding ladder or set of davits is of paramount importance.
Passerelles need to be, safe and offer those using them, quick, worry-free access when boarding a superyacht. Good examples are designed to work well and look good, providing elegant and timeless entrances for guests and crew alike.
Cranes and davits that lift boats, tenders, jet skis and other water toys on board need to do so unobtrusively quickly and quietly so that guests are seldom aware of their existence. Bathing platforms that raise and lower into the sea must be faultless and stunningly beautiful when they allow guests easy safe access to the water, while deckhead mounted cranes that service the yachts garage need to work seamlessly when loading or discharging water toys.
There was a time when, to ferry guests ashore, all a yacht needed was a roll up inflatable tender and a portable outboard engine stowed inside the lazarette. Now not only has the roll up tender morphed into a large, inboard-engined, multi passenger carrying, RIB but the lazarette has been forgotten on most yachts and has been fully replaced by a garage. But these advances in size technology and carrying capacity have meant that instead of a single deckhand heaving a roll away dinghy up and onto the deck before inflating it to the point that it can be thrown singlehandedly over the side, superyacht crews now rely on custom built equipment to help them in their tasks.
Fortunately, as demand increased, so too, did the realisation that specialist companies needed to design and build this equipment. Products were brought to market and have for the most part found favour with the yacht Captain and their crew. Today’s market allows them to select from a wide range of standard modular solutions or fully-customised boarding equipment to meet their wishes and demands.
To reach the quay, passerelles typically have to offer a reach of up to 10 metres or more. The Dutch engineering firm, Cramm offer customised passerelles in any desired length. Feebe is another Dutch engineering specialist that builds quality overhead cranes used inside the garages of some of the worlds largest and best run superyachts. UMT Marine in Fort Lauderdale have a range of davits and deck cranes to suit any size of yacht while Fuchs Cranes of Germany are acknowledged favourites of German yacht builders the likes of Lurssen, Aberking Rassmussen, and Nobiskrug. Hydromar, based in Holland has the market well sown up given that it owns both the Cramm brand and that of Swissway Marine, both of who make quality kit. So too does Freebe, a Dutch company with 20 years worth of experience. When it comes to maintenance, Geetch in Monaco offer all the back up engineering and servicing you will ever need to keep this kit pristine and working to perfection
Based on the available space, manufacturers such as Cramm, Hydromar and Seawalk offer various different types of passerelles: non-telescopic, single telescopic and double telescopic, with non-telescopic requiring the most build-in space and the double telescopic the least. When space is extremely limited on the yacht, the extendable lorry offers a good space-saving solution. The double telescopic lorry system can store two lorries on top of each other, reducing the required length enormously compared to a standard lorry; the height of the box is doubled to just only 650 mm. This space saving enables other equipment and systems to take maximum advantage of the available space in the yacht.
Passerelles made this way of lightweight construction, manufactured from aluminium results in a device with high torque stiffness, minimal bending and a weight reduction of 25% to 35% compared to their alternatives. Most of the better passerelles offer two standard systems for ease of use in every docking position. The fixed passerelle is ideal for docking with the stern to quay, where no rotation is needed to board the yacht. Using a rotating slewing frame, rotating passerelles can be swung towards the quay at an angle of 90° on both sides. Handy, when docking and there is an obstacle is in the way, the slewing frame can easily reposition a passerelle to the sides without the need to re-dock the yacht.