Opacmare and J&J Design tackle the problem of water access for outboard-powered superyacht tenders…
With the prevalence of outboard power for superyacht tenders and recreational blast-boats – the perfect day-trip toys for snorkelling and exploring away from the mothership – there comes a problem. How do you safely get in and out of the water? Traditional solutions involve hanging some form of rigid or flexible ladder over the side or off the stern, but neither of these are particularly satisfactory. In particular, stern access means getting uncomfortably close to the props and even with the outboards shut down it’s not a pleasant – or an easy – obstacle to negotiate.
It is something that Italian accessories and platform specialists Opacmare have been considering and, as the company approaches its 23rd year of operation, it has teamed up with Slovenian designers J&J Design to create a solution to the problem. “The fastest growing and most important boating market worldwide is the fun, entertainment and bathing aspect,” say Opacmare, “and at the same time outboard engines are predominant and growing in this smaller boat sector, while stern drives are starting to die out.”
The result of the collaboration between the two firms is the S.A.F.E. hi-low platform for outboard-powered boats, which, they claim, provides safe and convenient water access for such craft. With such experience as Opacmare has in bathing platforms and the like for mother ships – one only has to think of its relatively recent Transformer platform to see the developments it has been making – it seems an obvious step to apply this experience to the tender market.
“The S.A.F.E. hi-low platform creates a private full-beam beach/private island on the transom of the boat,” they say, “which can be adjusted to three levels by a new design of electro-hydraulic lifting mechanism.” The three levels comprise a low position for when the boat is at anchor, with the platform submerged approximately 10cm below water level; a ride position where the platform is level with the cockpit; and a high position which allows the outboard to be trimmed out of the water. The platform system design has come from the boards of J&J Design, while Opacmare have applied their expertise to the lifting mechanism components.
Moreover, the system is synced to the outboard trim system. This means that when the platform is in low position the engines cannot be started, and while the engines are running the platform cannot be lowered. The advantages are not hard to imagine – easy access to the water is obviously a key benefit, but in addition the platform provides an easy embarkation/disembarkation point for safe dock access when in raised mode. The companies claim deck space can be increased by as much as 30 per cent, and when lowered the platform can act as a passive at-rest stabilisation system. A dedicated hatch in the platform is designed for easy prop cleaning or replacement, and what’s more the whole system can be operated by smartphone.
Opacmare and J&J Design say the S.A.F.E. platform is suitable for monohulls or cats up to 15m (50ft) in length and with any combination of outboards from single to quad installations. It’s certainly an innovative take on the classic outboard tender water access problem – and if a platform is good for the mother ship, why not the tender too?