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Royal Rendezvous: Queen Mary 2 meets namesake Queen Mary

February 25, 2006 Maritime history was made Thursday as two legendary ocean liners, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Mary, met for the first time in Long Beach harbour for a royal rendezvous. The commemorative festivities were part of the Cunard Lines' Queen Mary 2's highly anticipated maiden call to Los Angeles on Wednesday, where more than 25,000 spectators turned out. As she entered Long Beach harbour on February 23, the Queen Mary 2 was met by a flotilla of 800 boats, 14 helicopters, and three blimps, as well as 6000 spectators lining the shore to view the festivities. A first-time whistle salutation between the famed ocean liners had even more meaning as the QM2 carries one of her namesake's original whistles, the tone of whose deep bass "A" can be heard ten miles away. When the original Queen Mary was built, it was the world’s largest ever ship, being significantly larger than the Titanic. It still holds the record for the most people carried aboard a floating vessel. The Queen Mary 2 is longer, taller and nearly twice as large as the Queen Mary.  Read More

Stiletto Experimental ship with carbon fiber M-hull design tops 50 knots (60mph)

The M80 Stiletto Experimental Vessel was launched this week offering a sneak peak at the next generation of military vessels. The Stiletto is an operational experiment by the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT) and its revolutionary carbon fibre structure and hull enable it to operate in shallow water, with 50 knot speeds, stability and great stealth as part of its armoury. Costing US$12.5 million to develop and build, the 88ft vessel is capable of carrying 37 tonnes at speed over a range of 500 nautical miles. The patented M-hull design transitions automatically and efficiently through hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and aerostatic lift modes with increasing speeds effectively creating a cushion of air and providing a comfortable high speed ride with great stability, and has enormous promise for a wide range of nautical applications for boats from 8 through 200 feet (see these stunning concepts). The Stiletto is powered by four 1,650-horsepower Caterpillar engines, and can cruise comfortably near its top speed of more than 50 knots (60 miles per hour). With a shallow draft of less than 3 feet, Stiletto has a three man crew, and will carry a complement of 12 US Navy Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) commandos, an11 metre rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) and either Manta and Silver Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).  Read More

Likeafish extracts air from water to enable a new paradigm in underwater exploration and l...

February 3, 2006 Air and water are two of life's staples - interestingly, two of the best ideas we've ever written up involve both. Airwater machines extract water from the air and now there's a machine which can extract air from water, on-the-fly. Isreali company LikeAFish has developed a new technology which will enable a new paradigm in underwater exploration and living. Likeafish’s tankless diving technology is able to extract air from water and could revolutionise scuba diving, offering unlimited dive time and no need for expensive and inconvenient refills. The appropriately-named company uses a method similar to a fish’s gills to extract the dissolved air present in all seawater to offer an indefinitely sustainable supply of oxygen to scuba divers, submarines and underwater habitats. The device uses a battery-powered centrifuge to lower the pressure of seawater in a sealed chamber, enabling the air to escape, in a similar manner to opening a bottle of lemonade. After separation in the centrifuge, the air is transferred to an air bag for use by the diver. The first unit will be installed in Lloyd Godson’s BioSUB this year – the BioSUB is the world’s first self-sufficient, self-sustaining underwater habitat.  Read More

The Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA-R) amphibious assault ship

January 24, 2006 The United States Defense Acquisition Board has approved the Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA)-Replacement amphibious assault ship program to enter system development and demonstration (SDD) phase. The Northrop Grumman LHA(R) will be the U.S. Navy's newest multifunctional and most versatile, amphibious assault ship, incorporating enhanced aviation capabilities centred around the STOVL F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and the V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey. The LHA(R) will be a variant of the gas-turbine powered LHD 8. This longer and wider ship will provide increased aviation capability, vehicle lift, cargo magazine capacity, better survivability, increased habitability standards and greater service life margins.  Read More

Winner takes all in Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

January 1, 2006 When Wild Oats XI crossed the finish line on December 27, it became just the sixth boat in the 61 year history of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race to take the line honours and handicap double. It also became only the second boat in history to win the magical treble (the first boat to do it was Rani under Captain John Illingworth in the inaugural race) by setting a new race record too, eclipsing Nokia's 1999 race record by more than an hour for the 628 nautical mile race. It is an enormous irony though, that the boat which was the last in contention to beat the US$10 million super maxi was the oldest boat in the race. The 41-footer Ray White Koomooloo won the race on IRC in 1968 with an elapsed time 4 days, 10 hours, 26 min and 52sec – in her time she was at the very forefront of boating technology with her lightweight four-skin, cold moulded wooden construction. This year she bettered that time by more than eleven hours to finish in 3 days, 22hours, 51min and 39sec but light winds in the final stages cost her any chance of repeating her IRC victory of 37 years ago. The mahogany-constructed Sparkman-Stephens-designed Koomooloo was lovingly restored over seven years and for the last twelve months has been heavily and successfully campaigned by Queenslander Don Freebairn. That's Wild Oats XI on the left and Koomooloo on the right.  Read More

Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

December 26, 2005 Ocean racing is one of the most exciting and dangerous sports yet conceived by man, and with one of the sport’s flagship events now 21 hours old, we are witnessing one of the most public yacht races ever staged. Normally, ocean racing is not a spectator event, but thanks to an array of technologies, the entire world can watch the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race via the Internet. In addition to the official race web site’s yacht tracker functionality, this year it is possible to watch via Google’s new 3D interface to the planet, Google Earth (Google Earth combines satellite imagery with a model that can be zoomed, spun and tilted - instructions here), with yacht positions and standings updated every ten minutes. Though weather forecasts suggested perfect weather for the 90-plus-foot maxis, the race record of 1 day, 19 hours and 48 minutes now appears safe as light overnight winds have seen the leading supermaxis fall more than 50 km behind schedule to take the record. As expected, the two new Reichel/Pugh 98-footers, Alfa Romeo and Wild Oats XI are leading the race with Wild Oats now 12 nautical miles clear of Alfa Romeo after 21 hours of sailing. Live odds for the race can be found here.  Read More

smart amphibious vehicle

December 23, 2005 While this vehicle was conceived by Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America as yet another ingenious adaptation of the smart as a rescue vehicle for the adventures of BayWatch Southern California lifeguard types, we can’t help but think it’s the ideal vehicle for any water-side dweller anywhere in the world. Amphibious vehicles make loads of sense, particularly when the vehicle can carry five people to the beach AND happily entertain everyone in the surf when you get there. The concept is mid-engined and has an 800cc turbo smart engine that sits between the front and rear foam seats and powers the jet pump when in amphibious mode.  Read More

Ocean Scooter - jet ski for the pool

December 22, 2005 What’s better than an Ocean Scooter? Two or more Ocean Scooters – that’s what! This is one of the those products which just screams, “why didn’t someone think of that before?” An inflatable , battery-powered electric boat that’s fast enough to give the kids a thrill, and slow and soft enough to be used in a swimming pool for everything from polo through to your good old fashioned demolition derby. The ASTONE ‘Ocean Scooter’ went on sale in Australia this month but global supplies will be available for the next Northern hemisphere summer. The Ocean Scooter comes with a battery-powered display, a variable speed throttle, automatic power shutdown, full waterproof circuit protection and a protected propeller body which is impenetrable to probing fingers. And at US$200, it’ll offer a very high bang-per-buck factor - eight of them turns your swimming pool into a water polo contest with serious attitude!.  Read More

New breed of super maxis to tackle Rolex Sydney To Hobart Yacht Race

December 19, 2005 When Sydney businessman Neville Crichton built Alfa Romeo I a few years ago, the advanced design made the world take notice – the remarkable yacht dominated international ocean racing for 18 months and won an incredible 74 consecutive races, including every major ocean event – a yachting grand slam the likes of which has never been seen before and which is unlikely to be repeated. Wealthy yachtsmen the world recognised the advantages of running with the very latest technology and the “arms race” has resulted in a flotilla of new advanced super maxis currently preparing for the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race. When they set off on Boxing Day, the world will be treated to a spectacle of technological wonder but skipper Neville Crichton believes that the deciding factor in which boat takes line honours will not be technology, but traditional sailing skills.  Read More

The Australian OffShore Challenge - one of the last great adventures

December 15, 2005 Bass Strait will rate on any list of the most treacherous places on earth – separating the world’s largest island (Australia) from one of the world’s largest and most pristine wilderness regions, Tasmania, it claimed its first recorded shipwreck in 1422 and has been claiming lives at an alarming rate ever since, including the infamous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht race in which six souls were lost. Already it plays host to one of the world’s great boating adventures, in the form of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, it will be joined by a second great competition next year - the Australian OffShore Challenge. Run in the form of a navigational rally, the OffShore Challenge will run annually from June 2006 and enable competitors from all over the planet to bring their own boat or hire one and safely sail, much less compete on a stretch of water of such renown. Travelling Bass Strait can be very dangerous and would not normally be recommended so the event offers the unique proposition of travelling in an organised event with charts, organization, air support and the company of other boats through some of the most spectacular, dangerous and remote scenery on the planet. It begins in Hobart at Wrest Point Casino on February 22, 2006, with competitors heading south on the first morning through the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, before their first taste of open water across Storm Bay. Then it’s up the east coast of the former penal colony around Tasman Peninsula, Maria Island, Freycinet Peninsula, the Bay of Fires and on to Eddystone Lighthouse. At that point, the event enters Bass Strait, but in a series of short stages around Clarke Island, Cape Barren Island, to Flinders Island. The final part of the crossing is taken after a break , navigating a passage to the mainland state of Victoria via Deal Island, the Hogan Group, to refuel at Port Albert. Next day, the national park of Wilsons Promontory before heading west to the sheltered inlet at Inverloch, then Westernport Bay via the San Remo narrows. A final rest and preparation for the big one - through The Rip at Port Phillip Heads to Geelong. The last day is then a short sprint across the Bay to St. Kilda and then a cruise to the Docklands marina in the heart of Melbourne for the gala finish. We believe this event will become one of the great adventures on the planet as it is designed to bring small motor yachts together from all over the world for a celebration of the finest yachting has to offer in relative safety and comfort.  Read More

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