IT didn’t quite have the opulence of the launch of the Titanic, but there were still plenty of claps and cheers as a monster of a boat set sail from a Canvey boatyard.
The 60ft prototype catamaran – the first of its kind ever produced by the Canvey-based boat building firm Blyth – has been finished after two years of painstaking work.
The catamaran, worth £700,000, has been built especially to transport technicians and personnel to offshore windfarms along the British coastline.
Ray Chuter, 65, director of Blyth, based on the Charfleets Industrial Estate, drew the plans for the vessel by hand after coming up with the idea.
He said: “We are really proud of the boat.
“It’s the first prototype of its kind and is the first commercial windfarm catamaran we’ve ever built.
“It will be used by big energy companies to take their technicians and people out to the wind turbines along the coast. It could be used all the way up to Scotland.”
The catamaran is so big Ray had to apply for a police escort to transfer it down to Dauntless Boatyard, in Canvey Road, where it was launched.
But Ray, who has been in the boatbuilding business for 47 years and employs 30 people at his yard, said: “In the end they said we didn’t need the police with us as it was all safe, but it is usual to have an escort with a boat of this size.
“It’s the biggest catamaran we’ve ever done – we’ve had 10-metre and 12-metre boats but never a 17-metre like this.”
The boat measures exactly 57ft in length, and then another 3ft is taken up with a fender on the front of the vessel.
The catamaran, made of fibre glass, took Ray two years to get from the drawing board to the launch ramp.
The plug – the model base for the boat – had to be made in Dubai and was shipped all the way back to Canvey.
Ray, who is due to retire soon, says he has enjoyed his career.
He said: “The boatbuilding business has changed a lot obviously over the years – so much is done by computers now. It makes it easier in a way, but I like the old fashioned way.”
Ray added he doesn’t believe in the Titanic conspiracy theories floating about as the 100th anniversary of the disaster looms this weekend.
He said: “They’ve come up with all these ideas but at the end of the day the problem was they hit a bloody big iceberg.”