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Splash of the Silver Voyager
Low Tech Launch for a High Tech Voyager
January 7, 2015

plash day is the day a new boat is launched. It can be a simple affair. A small rowboat can be launched by hand. Not so “Silver Voyager”, Al and Virginia Springer’s new power catamaran. Launching the 50 foot cruiser involved a semi, a trailer with moving support arms, steel landing mats, snorkel gear and a high tide.

graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
Silver Voyager at Graham Burn’s dock shortly after her launch. The boat is of light weight composite construction. At half load, it displaces 30,000lb.
graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
Naval architect Graham Burns. Graham and his wife Carla own and operate B&B Yacht Designs in Vandemere. Graham is best known for his fast, lightweight sailboat designs such as the Core Sound series. He and Carla have sailed around the world and logged 85,000 miles of ocean voyaging.

Graham Burns and the crew of B&B Yacht Designs started building Silver Voyager four years ago at the company’s Vandemere boat shop.

Unlike most vessels of similar length, Silver Voyager has two, not one, hulls. An extension “like a torpedo”, says Graham, protrudes from the front of each hull. Under way, this addition, seen more often on tankers than pleasure boats, breaks the bow wave. Graham says this makes the boats very efficient. He says, “we’ve calculated her speed at 25 knots. In flat conditions, at 9 knots, she should have a range of 2,500 miles. That’s one and a quarter way across the Atlantic Ocean.”

The two hulls make the boat wide – 20 feet. It’s this great beam -and the fact Graham was launching the boat from his yard’s unpaved launch ramp – that lead to some challenges come launch time.

graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch surface piercing bow
A closer look at Silver Voyager’s wave piercing port hull.

Paul Welles of Triton Yachts helped move the catamaran from the construction site to the water. It was an unusual gathering of low tech methods that got the high tech boat afloat.

Paul says one of the challenges was figuring out how to support the extra wide hull. He says, “it was tough. We had to figure out how to pick the boat up between its two hulls. Graham and I identified the bulkheads across the bridge deck and once we knew that we could put the trailer under the boat.”

Paul’s trailer has special reticulated arms. Once the trailer was slid under the boat, the arms were adjusted to support the hull. Then the boat was lifted and turned around. It would be launched stern-first. A day was chosen when water levels were high.

graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch trailer arms
Because the hull is so wide, it had to be lifted in the middle. Here, the trailer’s moveable arms have been positioned either side of the Silver Voyager’s centerline. (Photo: Paul Welles)

Graham’s ramp in to the Bay River is not paved. Though firm enough for launching most vessels, it was feared the heavily loaded trailer would sink in to the soft ground. This might bog down the trailer before the vessel was in water deep enough to float free.

To firm up the footing, Paul laid down steel grids. This created a makeshift – hopefully firmer – route to the water. He says, “we had to use interlocking steel landing mats. Originally, these were used to make landing fields for aircraft. As I backed up, I had two guys in the water laying down the landing mats. They weigh about 40 pounds and they’re awkward. They had on snorkel gear and as I backed up, they aligned the mats with the wheels of the trailer.”

graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
The Silver Voyager feels the Bay River for the first time. The vessel draws 5 feet so needs to be pushed far out in the water to float. Smoothing the way were….
graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
….some assistants armed with wet suits and snorkel gear. (Photos: Paul Welles)

After a morning’s worth of trailer backing, duck diving and breath holding, the Silver Voyager floated free. She was checked thoroughly for leaks (there were none) then moved to a nearby dock.

graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
The view from the main cabin.
graham burns catamaran silver voyager launch
Looking aft down the port hull. The vessel’s interior is still being completed.

Graham plans to finish commissioning the Silver Voyager at his boatyard. After that, and some sea trials, the new owners plan to turn her bows to cruising.

TownDock.net plans to do a follow up article on “Silver Voyager” once the interior is completed.

Related Articles:

Boat Designer and Teacher Graham Byrnes Honored

Posted Wednesday January 7, 2015 by Bernie Harberts

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