If the necessities of showroom appeal and mainstream popularity force the leisure market to focus more on attractive cosmetics than pioneering solutions, there are no such shackles for the endlessly pragmatic world of industry. Driven by the stark necessities of conflict, commerce, security and rescue, it is a great place to look for forward-thinking innovation - and the Seawork International Show is exactly the place to find some of the best of it gathered together in a single place.
Unlike most nautical shows, this commercial marine and workboat exhibition is growing fast. Seawork now attracts more than 7,000 visitors from more than 70 countries around the World and as a place where designers, builders and industry decision makers can get together to discuss the key issues and innovations of the day, you can see why. We trawled the aisles and pounded the pontoons to unearth six particularly interesting exhibits...
(1) Inflatable landing craft
This fully inflatable Hypalon cat comes with a simple pulley mechanism to lift and lower its fold-down bow door. That makes it particularly useful for beach landings, but it’s the carrying capacity that really hits home. Despite weighing just 160kg, it can carry 2,000 kg of gear, which is pretty much like me bench-pressing a metric tonne.
It looks a bit like an overgrown Thundercat or Zapcat but unlike its smaller race circuit siblings, this thing can run singlehanded, free of any forward ballast, in a relatively flat and composed fashion. It can also deflate and roll up into a package more or less the width of the transom and it can be tailored in all respects to the needs of the individual. The show package with 50hp outboard is available for an all-in price of around £23,000. See Superyacht Tenders and Toys
(2) Seabob Black Shadow
Forget the lurid plastic toys you see people prodding, all wide-eyed and idiotic, at marine leisure shows. Here from German company, Rotinor, is the Seabob Black Shadow 730 - a high-performance diving scooter, which uses a patented E-jet power system with ten power levels for virtually silent operation. In addition to a scratch and dent-proof body coating, it comes with an 8hp motor for 70kg of thrust, allied to six hours of operating time and a range in the region of 16 nautical miles. It also comes with a programmable depth setting (to a maximum of 60 metres), plus a data display, a digital bearing scale, a target marker and a live sonar picture to enable accurate navigation. Chances are you’re not a member of the SBS, but with a gadget like this, you can at least pretend to be.
Okay, so it might not look exciting and if you own a trailer boat, it’s of no great value to you. But for those who keep their craft on a mooring, the Seabung is a fabulous bit of kit. The use of a simple flexible disc on the end of a stiff shaft enables you to inspect and repair your seacocks without having to take your boat out of the water. It comes in various sizes for various sizes of outlet and it’s as easy to use as it is affordable. Check out the Seabung website for a simple video demonstration of how it works – and then marvel at the fact that nobody ever thought of this before.
(4) Impact mitigation reinvented
The guys at Wolf Shock wouldn’t tell me how this impact-mitigation decking actually works, but it feels and behaves like a series of close-packed, vented air pockets, sandwiched inside a Hypalon style fabric. You can top it off with any finish you like, from Treadmaster to Flexiteek and the company claims that it will reduce the scale of impacts by more than a third.
The decking can be tailored to fit your boat, either just at the helm or throughout the entire craft and the fact that it is relatively simplistic, means it is unlikely to fail under prolonged or heavy use. In fact, it has already attracted the hearty endorsement of some of the industry’s highest profile endurance Skippers, so to my mind there are only two issues. Firstly, I would want a five-year warranty to match that of my hull and deck (rather than the standard two-year warranty); and secondly, the price per square metre is likely to be prohibitively expensive for most leisure users in pursuit of that next big upgrade.
(5) Impact mitigation reinvented again
So how about an entire console and seating unit for all-in-one shock mitigation? Here from Shockwave Seats is the Integrated Control Environment (or ICE) system. It provides a huge 16-inch range of travel in the vertical axis and around three degrees of pitch and roll damping.
Built from a stainless steel chassis with aluminium components, this unit has accompanied none other than Bear Grylls on his 8,000-mile journey through the Northwest Passage in 2010, where it garnered some very positive feedback. On a less glamorous note, I have also previously used one of these things on a ten-metre Redbay in the Solent - and the real benefit of the ICE approach is that your helm controls, your eyes, your bum and your hands are all damped in unison. The result is excellent comfort allied to very clean and unaffected helming.
(6) MSV Explorer SP-02
Naturally, there are plenty of cats at Seawork because their efficiency, stability, inboard space and load carrying capacity makes them particularly practical for commercial applications. However, not every cat comes with its own colour-coded submarine. MSV Explorer’s MSVEX SP-02 Combination Rig is an award-winning, commercially coded cat with it’s own MSVEX MKII Safari sub-surface viewing pod.
This craft offers an integrated surface cockpit with a two-man subsurface pod that provides 360-degree visibility. It also comes with tank-style tracks enabling it to run up a beach and a set of Torqeedo thrusters hooked up to high-capaciity battery banks for six-knot performance and 100 hours durability on a single charge. Just imagine the fun you could have with this...