The Wetwheels Jersey blog
Tuesday July 30, 2013
Wetwheels Jersey, the nine-metre power catamaran designed for disabled and disadvantaged passengers, is nearing completion at her Isle of Wight-based builders and is set to enter service in September following a period of post-completion trials.
Wetwheels Chairman Andy Le Seelleur said "The whole team is very excited about the imminent arrival of the boat. We have received the latest photographs of Wetwheels Jersey and you can clearly see how she is taking shape. We have put a great deal of thought into how we can make the user experience as interactive as possible and have added more equipment to the specification. That has unfortunately created a small delay in delivery, but we feel it's essential to give people the maximum enjoyment they can have when they come on board."
Wetwheels Jersey is being built to a bespoke design and specification by Cheetah Marine in the Isle of Wight, the same yard that produced the original Wetwheels, which is owned by Geoff Holt MBE and was the inspiration for Wetwheels Jersey.
The local craft will benefit from Geoff's experience of operating Wetwheels. Cheetah Marine are currently installing a bespoke hydraulic wheelchair lift, cabin heating, shore power connections and a television screen that will be used for educational purposes, and to run a feed from an underwater-mounted camera and a Go Pro.
The state-of-the-art Simrad navigational equipment is being modified to facilitate joystick control and the ability to replicate the chart plotter graphics in real time to iPads, making it easier for passengers to follow what is going on from anywhere on the boat. These additions have been made possible by the success of the fundraising efforts and will ensure Wetwheels Jersey can provide the ultimate experience to everyone who goes to sea on her.
Barry Sales, Production Director at Cheetah Marine said "The Jersey team has taken the design of the original Wetwheels and have been able to add every conceivable extra. It has been a challenge to accommodate their wishes but the result will be a vessel that is absolutely filled with features to benefit their passengers. There is nothing else we can think of to add now. All being well we will have the boat ready for delivery at the end of August".
Costing in excess of £140,000 Wetwheels Jersey will be in service year-round and will be available to everyone with a disability or disadvantage. Andy Le Seelleur said "We see no barriers to being able to enjoy time at sea. Wetwheels Jersey is designed to take up to four wheelchairs and ten passengers in total and features such as the wheelchair lift and joystick control will enable even those with the most limited mobility to take control of her and enjoy the experience of high-speed boating. She will be operated by the States of Jersey Education Department, alongside the Spirit of Varity which already takes hundreds of local disabled passengers to sea each year. Wetwheels Jersey will provide a complimentary service to the Spirit and will greatly increase accessibility to the wonderful maritime countryside that lies just off of our shores".
Capital funding has been provided entirely by just four charitable organisations, The One Foundation, The Ana Leaf Foundation, The LloydsTSB Foundation and The Sir James Knott Trust and funds to cover annual operating costs have been raised by local charities and other fundraising initiatives. An online booking system is currently being developed to manage reservations and the aim is to maximise diversity in terms of the ages and circumstances of passengers.