New research vessel launched

29 March 2007 | Story by Helen Swingler

Custom-built: The new MA-RE 1 inflatable will be available to all those involved in marine research at UCT.

It wasn't surf but champagne that wet the 7.3m Gemini inflatable, MA-RE 1, at its launch on Tuesday, 27 March. Dean of Science Professor Kathy Driver performed the ceremonial boat-naming.

The new baby of the Marine Research (MA-RE) Institute, the custom-built, semi-rigid vessel is powered by two 90hp outboards and has removable dive racks, which make it suitable for both SCUBA and surface diving. It also comes with a stainless steel gantry, providing a platform for the deployment of oceanographic equipment.

MA-RE 1 boasts state-of-the-art navigational equipment and is licensed for 10 people, offering sufficient capacity for student fieldtrips.

The boat will be available to all MA-RE members for research, in other words, all those involved in marine research at the university. Its acquisition was motivated by oceanography's Professor Frank Shillington and Rachmat Harris, on behalf of MA-RE.

"This is a real step up from the last boat, the Cymadusa, in the zoology department," said MA-RE manager Emlyn Balarin.

But more is required than a star to steer her by. An offshore skipper's licence is needed to take her out to sea. Oh, and a Land Rover to tow her.

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