48 Atlantique — By George L. Petrie
|Cranchi goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure its 48 arrives in America in the same shape she left Italy.|
As dawn broke over the Port of Miami, I gazed up at the stacks of 40-foot-long containers towering above the deck of a 600-foot cargo ship that had just cleared customs. I had the opportunity to participate in the delivery of an Italian-built Cranchi 48 Atlantique to her new American owner. I wanted to learn how the boat had been prepared for transatlantic shipment and to evaluate the boat herself.
At the moment all I could see was a cocoon of shrink-wrap plastic that covered the 48 down to her chines. Like a seagull perched on a piling, she was atop a cargo container, hunkered down behind higher stacks of containers that sheltered her from the full fury of the sea. According to the ship's captain, Romuald Mieleszczuk, wave heights were upwards of 20 to 25 feet during the trip, not unusual for the North Atlantic in March.
Once aboard the ship, our priority was making the 48 ready for launch. Cranchi had delivered her to the ship on a custom-built steel cradle with rubber pads at all points of contact, to which she had been secured by heavy nylon straps. After being loaded aboard, the cradle had been lashed to a heavy steel foundation that mated with the tops of two adjacent containers. We had less than two hours before a huge overhead gantry crane was due to pick the 48 off her cradle and splash her.
Up close, I began to appreciate the meticulous care Cranchi had taken in readying the boat for shipment. As it happened, she had been positioned between two vessels from another European yard, one covered by a heavy, loose-fitting tarpaulin, free to flap in the wind and possibly damage the very boat it was intended to protect. The other was shipped uncovered and had become so coated with salt and grime that it would take days of scrubbing to bring back the luster of her finish.
To keep the shrink-wrap from blowing off in heavy weather, Cranchi had wrapped a layer of nylon webbing (like the netting used in a soccer goal) over her entire length, while beneath, plastic sheeting prevented the shrink-wrap from scuffing the fiberglass. Even stainless steel deck rails and fittings had been covered with plastic tape to prevent scratches and scuff marks.
Despite the extraordinary wrapping and packaging, the launch went quickly. A box knife was used to cut away the shrink-wrap, nylon webbing, and the straps that bound the hull to its cradle. Removal of plastic wrap proceeded in parallel with a check of the mechanical and electrical systems, batteries, and through-hull fittings.
The level of care was equally meticulous inside. All cushions and pillows were wrapped in plastic covers, and sun shades for the flying bridge and aft deck were inside custom-made plastic bags. Even the stairs to the flying bridge were covered with plastic and the rudders and propellers had been removed and shipped inside, to be installed after the yacht had been lifted clear of the ship but before she was to be launched.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.