Take the Scenic Route

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


The Kakariki is largest vessel registered in New Zealand. It follows an approximately fortnightly schedule from Marsden Point to distribute petroleum products around New Zealand. Faintly visible behind the funnel is the orange "lifeboat". I put liferaft in scare quotes because it is quite unlike a conventional lifeboat. It is more like a small submersible. In the event of a fire the crew are all to board the craft. The seats have not just seatbelts, but full harnesses, and the craft is fully water-tight once the door is shut. The boat is launched by something that looks not dissimilar to a handbrake. The effect is to release the lifeboat which then slides from quite a height down a ramp, at which point it is launched into mid-air. The ramp is designed to throw it as far as possible, and the boat should skid and bounce along the surface some distance from landing as well. Hence the harnesses and watertight doors. Of course, was an entire boat full of petrol and diesel to catch fire, one would want to get as far away as possible, as quickly as possible.

The Kakariki and its sister ship (a slightly smaller vessel) are important to me, as they serve as markers of the passage of time. Since my old lab moved at the start of 2001, my lab, and later office, both have had a view of this part of the harbour, and it frequently disturbs me how often it seems like no time has passed before they return.

I'm sure there is probably some practical reason, but in these times of increasingly expensive fuel, I also wonder how long it will be before ships start to draw power from land when they are in port. The ship isn't setting sail, but belching that much smoke while tied up and stationary. I'm sure that there are some practical issues relating to the charging for electricity used, the proximity to water, voltage differences, and potentially the amount of electricity a ship this size might require, but still. Interestingly, airlines are increasingly recognising the fuel inefficiency of using aircraft engines more than they can help. Planes are now increasingly plugged in, and also towed away from the terminal, rather than moving out under their own power...


At Wed Aug 24, 12:31:00 PM GMT+12, Blogger MVC said...

On the towing of planes it's something Air NZ is doing more and more at AKL. My brother-in-law freaked out the higher-ups at Air NZ while he was towing the loaner/sample 777 that Boeing flew down. He had a metre of horizontal clearance, but like 5 metres of vertical with a parked 747. Despite that a number of accountants required a change of underwear, lol.

At Wed Aug 24, 01:14:00 PM GMT+12, Blogger limegreen said...


And the interesting thing is that they are doing it for cost cutting. Although it kind of makes sense. Using a set of large turbofans to move a plane around is horribly inefficient compared to the tugs.


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