Seldovia District high tide on Tuesday of this week crested around noon and with it came a celebration and launch of the Goldbelt Seawolf, the largest vessel ever built in Homer.
The 74 foot catamaran splashed down into Kachemak Bay from Northern Enterprises vessel launch and boatyard. Bay Welding constructed the Goldbelt Seawolf. In fact, it was built entirely in Homer in less than a year. The vessel weighs 94,250 pounds and is filled with the work of the many Homer marine trades.
Kate Mitchell owns Nomar on Pioneer Avenue in Homer. Nomar produced upholstery and interiors for the vessel.
“Bay Weld gets their logo on it, but this is a boat built by Homer. The engines are from In-Demand, Desperate Marine did hydraulics. South Central Radar, I know they've got the radios, and we did some upholstery and covers. The list just goes on," said Mitchell.
Eric Engebretsen. is the general manager of Bay Welding. Bay Welding fabricated the Goldbelt Seawolf in their shop. He was too busy to talk yesterday at the launch but spoke with KBBI in his office Wednesday morning about what kind of facility it takes to build a 74 foot, 94 thousand pound vessel.
“We were hoping that this project would happen and the shop was built to accommodate that boat. The boat is designed to fit in that shop. When it came out of our shop door, we had a half-inch of clearance on the top and two inches on each side,” said Engebretsen
The launch could not have happened, he said, without the entire marine trades community in Homer, working together, and like all marine ventures, it was scheduled in accordance with the tide.
“We knew that before we can pursue a project this size, we had to have a plan of how to get it to the water. We would have to set up how much counterweight we would need to have. You notice that the launch had just the right amount of water. It had to be timed at the exact moment to get that boat to float and get pulled away from the beach and all that was because Northern Enterprises, even though they weren't the ones launching it, we were using their whole facility and shutting down their business. Well, we had to do that when the tides were low enough that they couldn't be hauling boats themselves," said Engebretsen.
Kate Mitchell says, in order to launch so large a boat. A special crane, the largest of its kind in Alaska had to be brought to Homer. And plans are in the works to expand the launch area to accommodate larger equipment and larger boats in the future.
“So this year they had to get this crane down here. But this has been the beginning spot for Northern Enterprises to expand their operation. Hopefully by next year. They'll have the hundred and fifty ton travel lift and a 35 wide dock to set boats of this class in the water. All of us are taking baby steps, but adding this kind of equipment and this kind of capability to Homer is a big deal,”said Mitchell.
The Goldbelt Seawolf was built for and sold to Goldbelt Transportation, to service the Kensington Gold Mine and can carry 118 seafaring people. And, in case you were wondering, the crane, owned by Alaska Crane, required 363,000 pounds of counterweight to move the vessel.