MOUNT DESERT — In a stroke of Down East ingenuity, a Mount Desert Island boatyard hosted two international marine safety companies to do improvements on cruise ship tenders this fall, switching the vessels out once a week when Norwegian Cruise Lines ships arrived in Bar Harbor for port visits.
“It was definitely something different for us,” Frank Gott at Abel’s Yacht Yard said. Former summer resident Patrick Flanigan connected the small yard with the work, Gott said. “He knew we were here, and said, ‘What do you think about doing this?’”
The crew at Abels worked alongside technicians from Safety Systems International and Cap Sante International to install new lifting hooks on the tenders, the ones that connect the boats to winches on the cruise ship.
Because Bar Harbor does not have a cruise ship dock, tenders are used to shuttle passengers and crew members between the shore and the ship.
“We did two tenders each week for two weeks,” Gott said. “They had somebody bring the tenders from the ship” around the east side of Mount Desert Island and up Somes Sound to the boatyard. Yard workers hauled the tenders with a lift to do the work in their shop.
When the new hooks were ready, they hung the tenders from a long wooden beam held by the lift straps for weight testing. “They sent the beam here from Florida,” Gott said. “We had to weight test them to 60,000 pounds.”
The beam is longer than the boats, with two eyes on it at the same width as the winches on the cruise ships connecting to fore and aft lifting hooks on the tenders. The beam functions as a scale, so that when it raises the tender, it shows the absolute weight.”
A safety inspector made special trips from New York to witness and document the weight tests, Gott said. Each tender had a weight test dry, and then with diving air bags full of water to simulate passenger weight.
“Cap Sante is based out of New Orleans, but they travel all over the world,” Gott said. “This crew was headed to Africa next to do 20 boats there. They do it everywhere, but they had nowhere up here. They loved it here.
“We gave them a lobster lunch one day before Abel’s Lobster Pound closed for the season. We had a good time with them, and they said they’d like to come back.”