What caught my eye: January 2024

Ouch! Brand new superyacht crashes through door of Lürssen dry dock
Photo Credit: buten un binnen
Photo credit: buten un binnen

Things clearly went awry recently at the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen resulting in the shipbuilder unveiling project Ali Baba ahead of schedule due to an accident. A technical glitch in the dock gate was said to be the culprit as it forced water out of the dock, thereby pushing the nose of the 140m yacht into the dock curtain.

“Damage occurred to the dock door in the dry dock at the Lürssen site in Aumund, Bremen,” Lürssen said in a statement. “Immediately after the incident, the shipyard initiated all necessary evacuation measures and informed the relevant authorities.” One employee was injured during the incident and was treated on-site by emergency services.

The repair to the dock door may well be expensive, but not as expensive as any reinstatement that needs to be made to the ‘nose cone’ of the vessel one presumes!

Elon Musk says Cybertruck will soon be used as a boat
Cybertruck - Photo credit: Lcaa9/Wikimedia
Cybertruck – Photo credit: Lcaa9/Wikimedia

One has to admire Elon Musk, one of the world’s richest and most successful men for his audacity and unrivalled vision, although I am stuck trying to get my head around this particular one. Surely there is a clue in the name Cybertruck that suggests it is made for the highway and not water?

But as Mr Musk says, it could be modified for use on the water. He has said that Cybertruck could benefit from a new ‘mod package’ that could convert the vehicle into a vessel capable of traversing short stretches of water.

Musk unveiled the upcoming function in a reply to a post by X user, Sawyer Merritt. Merrit posted a clip from a new episode of Jay Leno’s Garage featuring the Cybertruck. In the video, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, Lars Moravy says: “Elon did want to make it a boat. The vehicle almost floats. Maybe you have to add a little bit of extra buoyancy just to keep it up.”

Well, that’s good then. Back to the drawing board perhaps me thinks. Now I don’t want to pick a fight with one of the world’s richest entrepreneurs, but this all seems a bit too far-fetched. That said, stranger things have happened – especially when it involves Mr Musk whose boundaries seem to have few limitations!

France auctions off a seized superyacht with a golden hull

Well, here’s a bizarre story for sure and a symptom of the times we live in. One year after it first went up for sale, an award-winning superyacht is being auctioned off by France’s asset forfeiture agency for half the original asking price. The French judicial sale agency Agrasc (Agence de gestion et de recouvrement des avoirs saisis et confisqués) has ordered the auction of the superyacht Stefania, winner of a BOAT Design & Innovation award as recently as 2022. The vessel is nearly brand new, with just 200 hours on her main engines and hardly a scratch on the striking golden hull.

According to Monaco-Matin, the Stefania was seized during a money-laundering investigation targeting an unnamed Belarusian billionaire. On January 25, Stefania was auctioned off in live proceedings held on the helipad of the International Yacht Club Antibes. The sale was listed with the title “So That Crime Does Not Pay” in the auctioneer’s catalogue, and it was expected to net about $8-10 million. The brokerage’s asking price for the vessel just last year was in the range of $20 million. Due to publishing deadlines, I don’t know how much the superyacht finally made at auction, but I reckon someone will have bagged a bargain!

Shipwrecks are ecological treasures
Image credit: NOAA
Image credit: NOAA

Every time a vessel sinks to the seabed, it is a sad and difficult time. But it seems our loss is of great benefit to underwater life in general. There’s nothing new in that you might say, but it was the statistic relating to the number of vessels in this story lying at the bottom of the sea that resonated with me. The number of wrecks estimated by UN conservation organization UNESCO decaying on the ocean floor is 3 million hulls!

The cultural and memorial value of wrecks is well-accepted, but scientists are now advancing the understanding of how shipwrecks are also ecological treasures. Put simply, they create homes for underwater life. In a new study published in the journal Bioscience, the team of scientists argues that wrecked vessels are a rich underwater habitat for a wide variety of organisms, from tiny microbes to large marine creatures, offering valuable ecological resources. In essence, wrecked vessels create artificial structures and materials that stand out from the surrounding ecosystem.

The study shows what divers, fishermen and artificial-reef advocates have always known – microorganisms, algae and invertebrates like corals and sponges thrive on submerged debris, and small fish find shelter in the crevices of sunken material. Larger fish and predators use shipwrecks as feeding grounds and rest stops during their journeys.

Historic lighthouse is restored after birds eat stonework

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has completed a major capital works project to restore the historic Cape Northumberland Lighthouse, located near Port MacDonnell in South Australia.

AMSA has invested $2 million to restore the lighthouse in response to a set of unique circumstances, after local birds, attracted by the high salt content of the stonework, excavated and consumed parts of the historic structure, necessitating a comprehensive refurbishment. The works included a refurbishment of the stone structure and replacement of the decayed limestone, a repaint of all internal and external surfaces of the lighthouse and ancillary building, a refurbishment of the balcony and lantern room, and an electrical system upgrade.

AMSA Executive Director Response, Mark Morrow, said, “This stunning piece of South Australian history is now bird-proof and ready to be enjoyed by future generations.”

See you soon.
Mike Schwarz

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