VESSEL REVIEW | Saratoga – Puget Sound gets new whale watching catamaran


The father of Saratoga's owner first approached Teknicraft back in the year 2000 to design a futuristic looking vessel to transport passengers at over 40 knots in areas around South East Alaska.

Teknicraft designed one of the first quad-engined catamarans at the time to carry 60 passengers at speeds up to 45 knots. The vessel was a success and is today still being operated by the same family in the Puget Sound.

Having expanded into a whale watching and sightseeing operation, Teknicraft was again selected to design a high-speed catamaran for the new operation. All American Marine in Bellingham, Washington, was selected as the builder.

Operating from its base in Port Townsend, Puget Sound Express required a vessel that could reach the whales and other wildlife anywhere in the vast area of the Puget Sound on short notice, thereby being able to guarantee quality mammal sightings on every cruise. This required the Saratoga to have a maximum speed of well over 40 knots, and a cruise speed, fully laden, of 35 knots.

The USCG Subchapter T-certified, high-speed catamaran has two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls, and an adjustable aluminium midship hydrofoil plus two aluminium aft foils, which allow the boat to achieve top speeds of 40+ knots.

This design, coupled with finely-tuned, wave-piercing sickle bows, enables the boat to travel through both calm and rough water at full cruising speed, while keeping underwater noise to a minimum.

The vessel is powered by four Scania D16 engines fitted with carbon fibre drive shafts to save weight. The soundproofing details in the engine room ensure that the passenger cabin is quiet and comfortable throughout the ride.

The vessel also utilises Hamilton jet drive control systems with four HJ364 water jets and MECS control systems.

The interior of the vessel is finished with cutting edge materials including recyclable Ayres aluminium honeycomb wall panels and recyclable Dampa aluminium ceiling tiles with acoustic insulation. Other amenities include ADA-friendly accommodation spaces, comfortable Beurteaux seating, two restrooms, and a galley complete with a full-service bar for passengers.

The helm station is mounted on a higher level than the upper passenger deck allowing passengers to move around anywhere on the decks without impeding the captain's visibility.

The fore-part of the vessel is fitted with a "stadium"-type area providing passengers with tiered standing room, enabling all to view and photograph the mammals.

A special lookout platform is fitted to enable the naturalist to stand head and shoulders above the roof of the wheelhouse to be able to spot the whales from far away.

Type of vessel:Tourist boat
Classification:US Coast Guard
Port of registry:Seattle, USA
Owner:Puget Sound Express, USA
Designer:Teknicraft Design, New Zealand
Builder:All American Marine, USA
Construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:23.3 metres
Length waterline:22.1 metres
Beam:9.0 metres
Draught:0.95 metres
Main engines:4 x Scania DI16 083M, each 662 kW @ 2,300 rpm
Propulsion:4 x HamiltonJet HJ364 waterjets
Steering system:HamiltonJet
Maximum speed:46 knots
Cruising speed:35 knots (laden)
Interior fitout/furnishings:Ayres/Dampa
Type of fuel:Diesel
Fuel capacity:5,500L
Fuel consumption:13L/nm @ 35 knots
Freshwater capacity:450L

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