Salmon farming boats: Flugga Boats create the perfect drive

Unst Inshore Services Ltd offers strong and seaworthy boats perfect for salmon farming: meet the Flugga Boat.

Unst Inshore Services Ltd is a family run business. With over 20 years of experience working with salmon farms, we have found that salmon farming boats need to be extremely strong and seaworthy. Not only are our boats strong, they are also built to be green; as all electricity used in their production comes from our own wind turbine.

At a glance Flugga Boats look like any other rib, but the Flugga Boat’s hull is constructed from marine grade alloy and the collar is high density Polyethylene (HDPE) tube, giving the boat all the benefits of a rigid inflatable but rendering it much stronger. The rugged construction of the Flugga Boat means lower overall maintenance costs and a much longer working life. Our salmon farming boats are designed and built to Lloyds’ special service craft rules; and coded under the MCA workboat rules.

It is important to get the right mix of materials, equipment and maintenance; workboats are made to work. We place great emphasis on reducing maintenance and down time. Any maintenance that is essential must be easy to access. Balance in all things is important. Choosing an engine with a 100-hour service interval creates too much downtime in a boat that must do 800 to 1000 hours a year.

Built to order

The selection of a drive system is down to the preference of the purchaser. Z Drives mean more maintenance than a jet drive. With the arrival of diesel outboards into the market there is the added benefit of these engines still having diesel as most farms already have diesel on site, which in turn simplifies the fuel issue.

We normally build to order; and it is our policy to supply boats ready-coded so that they are ready to work as soon as they are delivered. We also like to over-engineer the boats as we know they are worked very hard in salmon farming environments. Hulls use a minimum of 6mm bottom plate; and have built in buoyancy. The collars also have fire retardant polystyrene foam in them. We don’t like to say they are unsinkable, but an 8.5m boat will have around 6.5 tonnes of foam buoyancy; and the boat weighs in at 3.8 tonnes when fully operational.

We tested a 7m hull in operational conditions with 1200kg on deck, tied the scuppers and flooded the hull to the top of the collar. The boat still maintained more than the minimum required freeboard for lightship; and two of us could still walk around the collar. On releasing the scuppers, the deck self-drained in one and a half minutes.

We have also addressed the whole-body vibration issue. While it may seem a bit flash to fit full suspension seating in a workboat it is now sensible in faster salmon farming boats – in our view, this comprises any boat travelling over 20 knots. Although Flugga Boats are not prone to slamming, hitting a wave wrong at 25 knots cannot always be avoided. Open boats are different to cabin versions as they can be driven while standing if conditions get a little lumpy, while cabin versions are normally configured for the driver and crew to be seated.

We have never underperformed

We feel fortunate that we have never had a boat that has underperformed. By that we mean that we have always had customers come back saying the boat has been capable of more than they required and that the crews have found their confidence grows the more the boats are used. One farm came back to us for more salmon farming boats saying that this was the first year they had never had a day on which they could not access the worst sites.

Our customers are mainly salmon farms, but we have also supplied the oil industry in both the UK and abroad; universities; the police; and we even provided boats for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth. The UK Ministry of Defence has showed interest mainly in the strength and heavy duty of our boats, especially for boats operating far from a main base where spares and maintenance were considerations. We have also received tentative interest from the renewable energy sector.

Using aluminium for the hulls means the boats can be customised to particular requirements. Boats are seldom made to be identical; every operator has their own way of working and this means a lot of unique boats. Every boat we have built is still operational; whether they are in Azerbaijan, Angola, Germany, Scotland or Shetland, they are all still in operation.

Jack Barclay

Unst Inshore Services Ltd

+44 (0)1957 711881

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