Floating on air

What’s better than good vibrations? How about no vibrations? Air bellow systems that cut vibrations on a floating deckhouse are among the creature comforts inland operators are adding to towboats. And in our July issue towboat report, we revisited a new feature we touched on the year before – the Loggers BV air bellows system.

Hunter Marine’s Ron Hunter has the whole cabin mounted on bellows, and AEP River Operations’ Jeffrey G. Stover has the wheelhouse on the system. Officials at both companies mentioned the smooth, quiet ride.

We also heard from Ron Hunter’s Capt. Myles Holt – but not in time for our deadline. He had great things to say about the level of crew comfort aboard the Ron Hunter, which he called one of the most impressive towboats he has set foot on during his 21-year career.

“I can’t say enough good about the bellows system,” Holt wrote in an e-mail. “I guess the wheelhouse is probably the noisiest area so far (and I say noisy very lightly) because the stacks are directly behind you and you are surrounded by glass. During bank trials, 64db was the loudest reading that we had under full load on one engine. You can probably add a little to that in consideration of the other engine but it won’t be much.

“[There is] little to no vibration in the cabin area that rests on the air bellows. The engine room on the other hand is a different story. It’s still a towboat in the basement. All of the quarters are very much like home. Honestly, you can’t tell sometimes when you wake up if you are underway or stopped in a fleet somewhere, and there is absolutely no difference between full ahead and full astern. It’s kind of scary actually.”

Holt said the vessel is so quiet that he and the rest of the crew have to remember to not slam doors and to walk and speak softly in hallways in order to be courteous to the other crew members trying to sleep. “All in all,” said Holt, “I personally have rested better on this boat than any other that I’ve been on.”

About the author

Dale K. DuPont

Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.

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