VESSEL REVIEW | La Charente – French inland operator takes delivery of sightseeing barge pair

PASSENGER VESSEL WEEK
Photo: Aister

Spanish boatbuilder Aister has delivered two new hybrid sightseeing boats to the Department of Charente in south-western France.

Built to a design by French naval architecture firm Stirling Design International (SDI), the aluminium-hulled, wood-covered sister vessels La Demoiselle and La Charente will be operated in the Charente River within the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Known locally as “the river of calm waters,” the Charente had served as a vital waterway for the transport of salt, wine, and other commodities since the Middle Ages and is now a popular tourist destination following a revival in recent years.

Photo: Aister

Each of the new boats has a length of 20 metres, a beam of 4.5 metres, a draught of only 0.45 metres, and capacity for two crewmembers and 69 passengers plus two bicycles. The design also ensures access for passengers with limited mobility. Hybrid propulsion systems were chosen to reduce noise and emissions during operations in the environmentally sensitive waters of the region.

The boats can reach maximum speeds of 10 knots on diesel power and six knots on electric power. Sailings can last up to five hours when operating in electric mode. Each trip has a duration of 90 minutes, allowing the boats to perform up to three sailings in one day. Half of each trip will be made on diesel-only mode while the remainder will be made on electric mode.

The vessels are notable for their appearance, which Aister said was inspired by the historic barges that were used to transport liquor in those same waters.

Photo: Aister

The boats also have wi-fi connectivity.

La Demoiselle and La Charente were built in fulfillment of a €1.2 million (US$1.196 million) international tender awarded to Aister by the government of France’s Grand Cognac region. The two newbuilds have since replaced an older boat in providing tours on the Charente River.

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La Demoiselle & La Charente
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Tour boats
Flag:France
Owner:Department of Charente, France
Designer:Stirling Design International, France
Builder:Aister, Spain
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:20 metres
Beam:4.5 metres
Draught:0.45 metres
Maximum speed:10 knots
Cruising speed:6.0 knots
Type of fuel:Diesel
Crew:2
Passengers:69
Operational area:Charente River, France

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