DUFFY-26 LAUNCH built by Atlantic Boat Co., Brooklin, Maine, meets new Coast Guard regulations so is already certified to carry 24 passengers at a time.DUFFY-26 LAUNCH built by Atlantic Boat Co., Brooklin, Maine, meets new Coast Guard regulations so is already certified to carry 24 passengers at a time.July 21, 2012 - Hull Yacht Club has decided to invest in a new launch.

The boat we have chosen is a Duffy-26 launch, built by Atlantic Boat Co. of Brooklin, Maine. The $125,000 vessel, which is 26 feet long, is expected to arrive here by Labor Day.

We have been approached by many members who voiced their concern and frustration over our current launch capacity. With the recent growth of the club membership, and the decrease in capacity of our existing launch fleet, due to US Coast Guard regulations, we believe this new 24-passenger launch is the best choice for reliable launch service for our members.

The last couple of years have been good to Hull Yacht Club. Despite the economic downturn, we have managed to grow our membership by an average of five percent a year to more than 220 members for this calendar year. We have a great Junior Program, a growing Senior Race Program, an active Cruising group and much more. We have been able to make improvements to our docks, vessels and club house that have allowed our sailing, racing and social events to flourish.

Still, the single most important service we provide to our membership is the ability to get to their boats, through our launch service.

This past winter, the Coast Guard introduced a new regulation change to Inspected Small Passenger Vessels. Any launch carrying more than six persons falls under the jurisdiction of this regulation. The major change is raising the average weight per passenger from 140 pounds to 185 pounds. Our new certified capacity dramatically affects the number of passengers we can carry per launch trip.

The new regulations have reduced the capacity of Beacon from 24 passengers to 18 passengers, a drop of 25 percent, and Finest Hour is limited to 5 passengers. Because of this regulation change, members are experiencing longer wait times on a normal day, and during any of our busy weekends or big events it is clear we are under resourced. Should Beacon, which is 43 years old, have a serious mechanical failure, we would be left with one launch, Finest Hour, that can't take more than five people per trip.

The club's Executive Board decided to look for solutions to this issue, so chartered a small committee to investigate options. This group included Jim Ray, Sue Slattery-Ribeiro and Doug Ryan. Over the last couple of weeks they found a variety of choices. They investigated new and used launches from all sources. Many members offered ideas, and all suggestions were vetted and evaluated.

Passenger Capacity: The greatest frustration is a launch driving right by your boat and not being able to be picked up because it is full. The reduction from 24 passengers to 18 on Beacon has demonstrated this to all of us. We considered running multiple smaller launches (10-15 passenger), however the costs in fuel, maintenance, and drivers salaries result in a larger net cost to the club than running larger launches (16-24 passenger). The conclusion was to run larger capacity launches for both member convenience and cost considerations.

Used Launches: There are not many launches on the market. The two reasons for this: launches last a very long time (Beacon is 1969 vintage and still services our club); and all clubs and marinas are subject to the same regulation and have been hit with the same reduction in capacity, so are holding on to their large capacity launches. We have found a number of smaller launches for sale in the 8-12 passenger range, however very few larger ones.

We found two viable used launches that may become for sale at the end of this season. The first is a 25-year-old launch in Provincetown for $50,000 and now is certified for 16 passengers. The second is a 25-year-old 16 passenger launch in Boston which has not been run actively for more than seven years, for $30,000. Once we put a new engine and complete other retrofit needs in this second option, the total investment would be also be approximately $50,000.

PAIR OF DUFFY LAUNCHES built by Atlantic Boat Co. undergo sea trials near Brooklin, Maine. Launch at left was built for Larchmont Yacht Club, former owner of Hull Yacht Club's Harbinger.PAIR OF DUFFY LAUNCHES built by Atlantic Boat Co. undergo sea trials near Brooklin, Maine. Launch at left was built for Larchmont Yacht Club, former owner of Hull Yacht Club's Harbinger.New Launches: Four major companies build launches: Oldport, Crosby, Fortier and Atlantic. Each company must redesign its launches to meet a target capacity of 24 passengers under the new regulation. One company, Atlantic, anticipated the Coast Guard change and has already completed its redesign. Its Duffy-26 is presently certified for 24 passengers and one driver.

The other three companies offer boats that are only certified for 16 or 17 passengers. They are just now starting the redesign and recertification process. Most are anticipating a new larger capacity in 2013; however it could take two years to complete the redesign and recertification. All four manufacturers' vessels cost between $110,000 and $130,000. Once you add in all the life jackets, fenders, name, VHF, bottom paint‚ they all cost between $120,000 and $130,000.

So, our decision for a second launch with capacity near or above Beacon was between a used launch with a capacity of 16 passengers for $50,000, and a new launch that can carry 24 passengers for $125,000.

Payment options: A new launch can be financed with a bank loan. A used launch cannot be financed. Financing the launch over 10 years equates to less than $75 per member per year. The used-launch option could only be financed by club means of member bonds and/or assessments. When you add additional yearly budget for maintenance it results in approximately the same $75 per member per year (assuming a 5 year payoff in lieu of 10 year).

Our recommendation: Hull Yacht Club should invest in a new Duffy-26 launch and finance it for ten years.

Here are the benefits of getting a new launch:

  • Greatest reduction in launch wait times for members
  • Maximize passenger capacity and minimize number of trips
  • Increase reliability of launch service with Beacon becoming our secondary launch
  • Minimize maintenance expenses with five-year warranty of the boat and engine
  • Reduce fuel and driver salary costs by minimizing the number of trips and times multiple drivers are required.

After much discussion and debate, the Executive Board voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the new launch as the best long term value for Hull Yacht Club. This decision and evaluation process was extensive, assumptions were challenged and all options were presented in an unbiased manner.

Atlantic Boat Co. has one hull and deck in stock and can complete construction of our vessel this summer for delivery before Labor Day. We anticipate having this launch in service before the 2012 Great Chase Race and we will be able to finalize all commissioning in the 2012 season. We believe this investment will be beneficial to the club in 2012 and will continue servicing the club beyond 2050.

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