Big cat out of the bag

FOXTON-BOUND: The 24-metre long and 11m wide catamaran is moved out of Palmerston North.
FOXTON-BOUND: The 24-metre long and 11m wide catamaran is moved out of Palmerston North.

Axles moaned and contractors held their breath from Palmerston North to Foxton Beach as a catamaran bound for Darwin went on its first, very public, journey.

The aluminium craft will weigh 110 tonnes when the hull and the top deck are connected and fuel tanks are filled, and it looked every bit of that weight as the load blocked roads around Manawatu while being trucked to its destination.

The 24-metre-long and 11m-wide boat has been crafted for the past eight months inside the shed of Carl Ferguson's Palmerston North boat-building company Profab Central Engineering.

Cranes will begin assembling the boat at Profab's Foxton Beach base today ahead of a launch into the Manawatu River mouth near the end of the month.

Cameras flashed and children were left open-mouthed as the trucks took off out of Profab's Mihaere Drive headquarters and over the railway bridge.

For Bulls-based Central House Movers, which does most of the boat-building company's moves, this particular boat required a bit of extra planning.

A team of 10 worked on getting the correct weight balance on the trucks for most of Saturday, company spokeswoman Christine O'Byrne said. On their first attempt, the hull of the boat was too heavy for the truck.

"It's a slow journey, that's for sure," Mrs O'Byrne said. "We've moved two-storey houses before but this one is pretty special."

The boat sleeps 18 but when it is finished it will predominantly be used by an oil and gas company in Darwin to transport gear. It is fitted with state-of-the-art technology that allows it to steer and drive itself.

Hundreds of spectators lined the streets on the journey to Foxton Beach, which went via Tremaine Ave in Palmerston North and then north to Sanson before turning south onto State Highway 1.

Among them were David James and his dog Buffy who were marvelling at the engineering feats on show.

"I think the whole thing is incredible, that this is possible shows just how far engineering has come in the city. Something like this couldn't be done by novices."

Manawatu Standard