Northern Ireland based Redbay Boats has received another order to supply a passenger RIB for operation in Svalbard in the High Arctic reports Dag Pike.
The operator Better Moments has a fleet of these passenger RIBs that take tourists on trips from Longyearbyen, the main town in the Svalbard Archipelago, visiting nearby glaciers and wild life. Svalbard is close to 80°N and Redbay suggests that this is probably the most northerly RIB operation in the World.
There are currently four of Redbay’s Stormforce RIBs operated by Better Moments with the last one delivered in April this year. This is a Stormforce 1250 powered by a pair of Mercury 550 diesels coupled to conventional stern gear supplied by Clements with a ZF gearbox. There is sprung seating for the 12 passengers and the two man crew inside the superstructure cabin with views through panoramic windows. Because the average temperature in the summer months is just 5°C, heating is fitted.
Previously supplied RIBs have been of the Stormforce 1200 type that are 12 metres in length and like the 1250 are based on a composite hull with a 24° deadrise. The early RIBs were powered by a pair of Mercury outboards with the third one using a pair of Yanmar 370hp diesels coupled to stern drives. All of the RIBs supplied have had a full complement of electronic navigation and communications systems.
Svalbard, which is about 500 miles north of the northern tip of Norway, is highly dependent on its tourist industry which is expanding rapidly. Tourists stay at the local hotels and also arrive by cruise ship and the boats operated by Better Moments can take tourists on morning and afternoon voyages both to visit the glaciers and also the second town in the archipelago, Barentsburg which was established by the Russians for coal mining. There are just 2500 inhabitants on the whole archipelago which offers the most northerly summer ice free area in the World.
The Redbay RIBs operated by Better Moments were chosen for their proven seaworthiness in this region where the weather can change at short notice. Most of the Better Moments operations are based around Isfjord which is the main deep water fjord with its stunning scenery.
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