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15 April 2024

Technology to ease berthing problems

The vertical yacht storage system will not only help marina owners maximise profits but also help boat owners save money. (SUPPLIED)

By Reena Amos Dyes

In these days of economic recession, when people are trying to cut back on their spending, a company in the UAE is bringing a dry docking technology that will not only help marina owners maximise profits but will also help boat owners save money.

The patented Vertical Yacht Storage System (VYSS), which is a new concept of dry dock storage, is being brought to the UAE by Knotika Holding.

The VYSS allows marina owners to store any boat from an 18' open fisherman to a 90' express cruiser. The system offers haul and launch times as less as three to seven minutes, depending on specified equipment.

And due to improved manoeuvring requirements, aisle space can be reduced by up to 50 feet. The VYSS allows owners to maximise profits by having the largest and heaviest boats in every rack and also save boat owners' money.

Emirates Business spoke to Knotika Holding chief to find out what the VYSS is all about and how it makes better sense economically for marina owners and boat owners to use it.

Touching on the need for more berths in the UAE, Wael Juju, CEO, Knotika Holding, said: "The UAE's yachting and marina industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. Even though we have no verifiable way of gauging the actual size of the market, what we can estimate from available data is that there are more than 60,000 boats in the Middle East dedicated to leisure boating alone.

"However, despite all this the lack of boating facilities, wet and dry, is seriously behind the current demand for marina slips. It will take a number of years and facilities to even come close to catching up with the demand for marina berths and storage facilities. The boat dealers in the region will confirm the largest problem they have selling new and used boats is where to put them.

"Given the current scenario, the Vertical Yacht facilities will be a welcome addition to the region and will come as a major relief to boaters, boat sales people and the waterfront developers wishing to increase the rate of return on their investments."

Erwin Bamps, Executive Manager, Gulf Craft, said: "The shortage of mooring and berthing space in the Middle East is certainly a limiting factor for the industry. Even though there is now space at the Dubai Marina, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Kuwait lack berthing space."

Juju said the VYSS was a revolutionary dry storage technology that eliminates the risks and limitations of forklifts and stacker cranes. This computer-controlled system lets marina owners store boats up to 90' in length, weighing 200,000lbs, in a zero damage facility and at virtually unlimited heights.

Juju said: "The Vertical Yachts system allows you to put the largest boat in any rack, from top to bottom, allowing the marina owner to maximise profitability. Our system requires a centre aisle of only 4' wider than the longest boat thus creating a much smaller building footprint and allowing the developer to maximise the efficiency of any site."

How VYSS works is that it utilises an automated bridge crane with four-point rotation and X-bracing stabilisation control.

Juju said: "We use traditional boat support rails for transient storage and boat support saddles for long-term boat storage supported by our simple, patented structural steel racking system."

The crane is attached to a universal/adjustable boat lifting cradle (one per crane) and utilises a horizontal transportation system consisting of a combination of high speed water side lifts, integrated rail system and/or slipways, depending on site requirements. For large yachts, their Hercules System utilises a simple dual hoist bridge crane with only hoist and bridge functions.

Connected to the crane is a powered prime mover platform which facilitates the "roll on - roll off" storage function of the yacht and its associated trailer into a climate-controlled yacht suite complete with shore power. This allows captains, crews and staff safe access to the yacht, while stored in the yacht suite.

Depending on site requirements, facilities can incorporate single or multiple bridge cranes and associated water-side lifts in order to maximise throughput.

Juju said: "Dry storage of boats creates hassle free boating and the savings for the boat owner are significant.

"While economics will vary by boat size, type and usage, most owners can expect to see savings maintenance; savings on gel coat, paint and finishes; generators and air conditioning; lower insurance premiums and depreciation."

Juju said the VYSS is better than the conventional forklift operated marinas because the centre aisle, which is only 4' wider than the longest boat allows for maximisation of any site footprint.

This allows the site to store either bigger boats (up to 28 per cent increase in LOA) on the same footprint or comparable sized boats on a 22 per cent smaller footprint.

The VYSS system can store the heaviest boat in any rack, maximising return on investment, versus forklifts that have reduced lift capacity forcing dock owners to store successively smaller boats the higher they go. Juju said: "Forklifts require a costly structural slab; our system requires none. The average industry accepted lifespan of a forklift is seven years, whereas VYSS cranes are industrial rated and have an expected lifespan of up to 100 years.

"Computer-guided precision and a cradle equipped with air cushions result in a zero damage facility, eliminating boat damage due to forklift operator error including dropped boats, crushed bows, rack rash, and spider cracking."

Another advantage that the VYSS system has over forklifts is that it is electrically operated, emitting no carbon emissions, resulting in a clean facility with high boat owner satisfaction. Touch screen controls allow for easy employee training and lowering cost vs forklift operators.

Juju says that while the cost of setting up the VYSS for marina owners is site specific, it compares very well with conventional fork lift operated systems and stacks up much better in terms of return on investment.

Juju said: "This is the time marina owners should be investing in storage facilities since the demand for boats continues to rise and the number of facilities is neutral.

In order to be ready for the next upswing in boating, these facilities need to be under construction. They will take 12 months to 18 months to build, by that time the market will surely have adjusted and the increased demand for indoor storage for boats will be stronger than ever."

The nitty-gritty

Maintenance: Our dust-free, soot-free climate-controlled dry storage environment shelters your boat from corrosive elements, particularly salt water and salt air and helps preserve all external and exposed metal components, and especially engine and air-conditioning cooling systems, plumbing and primary electrical systems.

Gel coat, paint and finishes: By minimising exposure to sun and UV rays, you will extend the lustre of any expensive topsides paint jobs, and big savings with external wood finishes, decks, awnings and polished metals, especially in ongoing labour. Also, savings on anti-fouling bottom paints, which in some cases depending upon boat use, can be eliminated.

Generators and air-conditioning: In addition to the electricity costs associated with continual running of the air-conditioning systems with expensive shore power [typically marked up in most marinas] or burning fuel with relatively inefficient on-board generators, long-term maintenance expenses on these items are directly proportional to hours of operation, which are greatly cut in climate controlled facilities.

Insurance: Lower premiums, especially in storm-prone regions.

Depreciation: A dry stored yacht will look new by avoiding the harmful effects of long-term exposure to the elements.