Monday, June 14, 2010

dead man's boat returns to water

Steve Fossett, adventurer

A year or two back, this big white catamaran showed up in the seaplane lagoon at the former Alameda Naval Air station. It turned out to be Steve Fosset's Cheyenne. Steve had just turned missing after going out flying in his single engine aircraft. After all attempts at finding him failed, his wife downgraded his status from missing to dead and the Cheyenne went up for grabs and was hauled out of the water and parked behind the fence at Nelson's Marine along with an assortment of nautical wrecks that never seem to be worked on.
Unlike most of the boats at Nelson's, the Cheyenne actually appeared to have been worked on, mostly on the interior. In any case, I had missed the transition of the Cheyenne from the water to the asphalt at Nelson's and was curious how it had gotten there.
Well, today, Tim Anderson called and let me know that the Cheyenne was going back from the asphalt to the water via big crane and so I drove down to Nelson's to see how big boat transport was done.
Appears that the crane lifts the boat, swings on its axis and deposits the boat in a set of cradles. Then the crane relocates closer to the water, lifts up the boat again and swings it over to the water and lets it down gently. Given the weight of the big boat, the crane needs outriggers to increase its base so it won't flop over on its side when it lifts the boat. So it can't very well drive along with the boat suspended from its boom. Hence the two-hop maneuver.
Anyway, here's some pics.

The Cheyenne after its first hop. The crane has rested it on its cradles. Next step, the crane repositions and then picks the boat up again and drops it in the water.

The boat's new owner stands under the hull to the left. Apparently, he plans to run charter cruises about the bay with it.

A view of the hull with rudder and prop. There is one prop on each hull. The prop is for auxiliary power only. The Cheyenne used to have a sail. Word has it that it will now be propelled by a kite designed by Don Montague.

And to make sure that nobody misses the fact that this is a big deal, the owner of the Cheyenne has hired a videographer who records every step of the operation. The whole thing will eventually appear in Imax theaters in 3D. But for now, nothing is going on and the videographer is taking a break.

The Cheyenne is about to get hoisted up again and the riggers move into position to witness the hoisting.

The Cheyenne is off her cradles and up in the air and headed for water.

Orientation of the Cheyenne is controlled by lines attached to each of its four corners.

A shot of the crane against a backdrop of the cranes of the reserve fleet. Lots of hoisting potential there.
And as the Cheyenne is lowered to the water, everyone has to take a picture.

And there she sits in the water. Mission accomplished.


I should mention that Steve Fossett held quite a few records in quite a few endeavors, everything from ballooning to round the world sailboat racing. In spite of all the stunts he was involved in, he never killed himself. When he did disappear, it was on a routine flight in a single engine plane. There was quite a bit of searching for his plane with no luck. The search was finally abandoned and he was presumed dead. Some months later, somebody stumbled into the crash site and his body was identified.

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