October 2016

A Vessel Delivery with a Difference

As our company name implies, we at SVS pride ourselves on the provision and operation of a fleet of specialist and specialised vessels.

That provision has included many challenging projects – in some very testing environments – for the offshore sector.

Earlier this year we undertook a new type of vessel delivery for a completely different client; a project which tested our team’s planning and resourcefulness to new levels.

Journeys by Design (JBD) is a travel agent and holiday provider which specialise in luxury and frontier safaris in no less than 15 African countries, from North Sudan to South Africa; from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to The Seychelles.

In October this year SVS were asked to supply and deliver a 12m Sports Fishing Boat from our base in Mombasa, Kenya to one of JBD’s forward-based locations at Omorate, on the banks of the River Omo in Ethiopia.  This task comprised of a 3-day road move across Kenya, a 100km trip across Lake Turkana, a border crossing from Kenya into Ethiopia and a final leg of 50km along the Omo River, renowned for its thriving crocodile population.

The road move proved to be by far the most complex phase of the operation.  A combination of poor road surfaces and overly enthusiastic driving resulted in the flatbed lorry becoming bogged down several times.  The JCB brought in to provide the heavy lifting became pinned on the corner of the truck, and the resulting damage meant that the hydraulic components – including the steering system – could only be operated ‘one valve at a time’ with the last undamaged pipes being unscrewed, moved and re-attached each time a control lever was moved.

After three days on the road, and three nights in bush camps surrounded by curious locals and the pick of Africa’s insect life, the boat was successfully launched onto Lake Turkana and motored across to the mouth of the River Omo.

Here, in the shallow waters of the Delta, the coxswain and crew were forced to jump overboard and manhandle the boat through the maze of small creeks and channels. Not so the local guide, who remained firmly rooted onboard and reminded them several times over that this is one of the most crocodile-infested areas in all Africa.

Eventually, after a trouble free trip up the river itself, the boat was handed over to a grateful client and the SVS team made their way back to Kenya using slightly more conventional means.

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