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Shipping A Cape 31

by Ingrid Hale
Cape 31

With the Cape Town-produced Cape 31 making inroads in international markets, the pacy speedster needs to be transported to all corners of the world safely and in tact. Erik Bjerring from Cape Town Yacht Services explains how these logistics are done.

The yacht management/ service provider is based out of the Cape Grace Marina at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. “We became involved with the Cape 31 in 2017 when Mike Hayton, owner of the Corby 49, NITRO, asked me to enquire about chartering a Cape 31 for the first official Cape 31 Invitational event in Cape Town. We re-branded the charter boat with the NITRO logo, and after only a day and a half of practice we finished in 2nd place, 1 point behind TNT”, says Erik. Mike and Erik met with C31 builder, the late Uwe Jasperson, and placed an order for a new boat. “We projected-managed the boat to launch, and I am still boat captain of the boat today”, he adds.

Going abroad

In 2018 we were asked to project manage the build and transport of a new Cape 31 for a US-based owner. This boat would need to be shipped to New Orleans after the test sail in Cape Town. The Cape 31, designed by Mark Mills, was designed to fit into a 40 foot container. Uwe and Erik’s team spent 2 full days packing her into the container.

In 2019 Orion’s owner made the call to ship his boat to Hong Kong to compete in the China Cup. This time round Matt Allardice took the lead in loading the boat in Cape Town. He then flew to Hong Kong to unload and assemble her for the event. After the event he loaded her into a container back to Cape Town, assembling her on arrival.

“The job can be done with the use of a fork lift and a few extra hands in a day and a half from the point of the boat arriving with her keel on, to her being loaded into the container. This includes wrapping and loading her into the container.  The keel is held in place with 2 bolts and the rudder with 2 clamps, the rig is a 2-part rig. On the receiving side it takes less then a day to unload and launch the boat with the rig up. With a bit of practice this can be done faster then assembling a Hobie Tiger”, explains Erik.

The loading

All parts of the boat – stanchions, mast, boom, mast, keel and the rudder – are wrapped in mutton cloth and then in cardboard, with extra padding on the trailing edges of the keel and rudder.

All the rigging is labelled as well as all the control lines. The boat is placed into a wooden cradle that is C&C cut to the exact size of the hull and deck. Once the boat is in the cradle and secured she is rolled on to her side and the wheel corner is put in place. The cradle is lifted with 2 jacks onto a loading beam as the back is lifted with a forklift. Using care the boat is slowly rolled into the container. With wheels front and back she can be wheeled into the container easily.  The gap around the cradle is no more then 5cm and if the container is not straight, or has bad dents on the side, the boat will touch. That’s how tight a fit it is!

“Matt is inside the container to guide the boat and I am on the forklift with a 2 way radio so we can co-ordinate the loading”, says Erik.

Cape Town Yacht Services has loaded 8 Cape 31s for shipping to the UK, Australia and the USA. Four more are scheduled to go to the UK in 2021. David Bartholomew and David Sweete have set up Cape 31 Class UK, with their own racing circuit set to begin this summer.

Other projects

CTYS was responsible for the logistics of sending the RP52 Cape Fling to her new owner in Australia. This involved lifting the boat for the survey, stepping the rig, removing the keel and the rudders, and shrink wrapping her for shipping. “This was one of our biggest jobs to date and it took just over 10 days to complete”, says Erik.

“Besides the Cape 31s we do the pre hand over cleans and inspections of the Robertson and Cane boats built in Cape Town, and we’ve also been contracted to help race teams that have had to make stops in Cape Town”.

Read more about boat transportation logistics – The Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard

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