The custom-built aluminum vessel was constructed at Metal Shark’s new facilities in Franklin, La.

Designed by Bill Preston of Marine Design in Gulf Breeze, Fla., the 48'×13'2"×5'4" pilot boat weighs in at 24,204 lbs., light. The boat is powered by a single, forward-mounted John Deere 13-liter 6135 SFM 75 M-4 diesel engine, producing 650 hp at 2,100 rpm.

The weight distribution and the extremely sharp forward entry enables the boat to slice level through the waves as opposed to riding over the top of the crests and plunging into the troughs. Due to its enhanced stability, the design is used by other pilot groups that operate in the open ocean conditions along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, according to Metal Shark.

“Metal Shark did a superb job of building the pilot boat. It was a pleasure to have the shipyard improve on the design and details,” Preston said. “They took the construction drawings to the next higher level of details resulting in the best possible product. All this was confirmed in the boat trials and on the delivery trip.”

One of those improvements was the use of wraparound “pillarless” windows in the pilothouse to substantially reduce blind spots, especially at night, an important consideration for pilots operating around the clock.

“We have nearly five miles of exposure to the South Atlantic, and it can get very nasty at times. While we and other pilot groups on the East Coast of Florida are already very familiar with the seakeeping abilities of this design, Metal Shark really did an outstanding job with the execution,” said Mike Rigby, senior boat captain and director of engineering for the Canaveral Pilots. “The boat performs far beyond our expectations and easily cruises at 18 knots in three- to five-foot seas combining single-engine economy with a comfortable big-boat ride.”

The forward-mounted John Deere diesel is connected to a Twin Disc MGX-5135A marine gear with a 2:1 reduction ratio. Between the gear and the 32"×36", 5-bladed bronze Hale propeller are two shafts. One is a 3"-dia., 17'5" shaft, which is enclosed in a sealed, oil-filled shaft log, with bearings manufactured by the Evolution Co., and a thrust bearing on the front end. Attached to that is a 4'6" cardan shaft that is connected to the reduction gear. This arrangement allows the engine to be soft-mounted for noise and vibration reduction. The engine reduction gear flange is mounted nearly 26' forward of the transom. The engine is accessible via a large-opening hatch in the forward deck. The new pilot boat carries 320 gals. of fuel and burns 20 gph at 1,800 rpm.

The hynautic steering system is from Seastar Solutions and the dual station engine controls are from Kobelt. The electronics suite includes a Richie Super Sport compass; Buell air horn; ACR search light; Raymarine AIS system; Standard radios and 30-watt loudhailer; and Furuno radar, chart plotter and depth sounder.

Some other features of the vessel include a 4'10" draft, passenger/crew capacity of eight, manual davit at the stern, aft cockpit helm station, heavy-duty, urethane-sheathed Wing fendering system and transom platform for MOB retrieval.

“This Metal Shark is truly outstanding and we couldn’t be happier,” said Rigby. “Any pilot group that operates in rough conditions really needs to come to Canaveral and ride this boat to experience it for themselves.”

The new pilot boat was delivered in December 2014.— Ken Hocke

2015 March OTW Metal Shark Delivers New Boat to Canaveral Pilots - 2-1

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.