The Incat Crowther-designed aluminum 109'4"x29'7"x10'8" Spirit of the Wild, a new 192-passenger tour boat for Gordon River Cruises, was launched back in May. The new passenger vessel is the first in Australia to operate in the World Heritage-listed wilderness with Incat’s Silent Drive, which is engaged when the tour boat comes into the wilderness’ Gordon River. In the Silent Drive mode, the main engines are shut down and the vessel runs on electric power.

Built by Richardson Devine Marine, the new boat, with a draft of 5'3", is fitted with a pair of MTU 10V2000M72 main engines, producing 749 kW (1,004 hp) at 2,250 rpm. The mains are connected to fixed pitch propellers through ZF 3311 PTI gearboxes. In addition, the boat has a hybrid electric system, consisting of a pair of ABB e-motors, driving hybrid-ready ZF gearboxes. Particular attention was given to the mounting of the engines and gears to reduce the transmission of vibration and noise. The main engines’ modest rating is tailored to the local manning requirements. In open water, the vessel will use Boost mode from the hybrid system, which matches motor speed to engine speed to add electric power. In this mode, the vessel operates at 25 knots.

Spirit of the Wild is designed to exhibit enhanced noise and vibration characteristics, even in Boost mode. Engine ventilation systems and the engine room were addressed with a fully-engineered acoustic insulation system. Attention was paid to fittings and door openings, with seals and bushes used extensively to stop rattles and gaps. In Silent Drive mode, the boat is very quiet, with seats returning sound level readings as low as 45dbA.

“She’s a 35m hybrid tour boat operating in Tasmania’s wilderness. She’s designed around a great passenger experience with large triangular windows, top-notch fitout and excellent noise levels,” Stewart Marler, Incat’s marketing coordinator, said in an email from Australia. “We think she’s probably one of the more ‘out-of-the-box’ designs we’ve done of late.”

Ship’s service power comes from twin Kohler 175EFOZDJ gensets, sparking 175 kW of electricity each. Capacities include 2,113 gals. of fuel and 793 gals. water. Spirit of the Wild has an eight-person crew.

The new tour boat utilizes triangular side structure to enlarge openings and minimize obstructed viewing locations. The exterior design promotes the boat's stealth-like look, using dark reflective floor-to-ceiling glass that enables the Spirit of the Wild to disappear into a backdrop of tannin-colored water and ancient wilderness forest.

Service areas are located in the center of the boat. The main deck side boarding areas, involving engine room ventilation and engine removal, were minimized, while the main staircase is open to avoid obstruction.

With a high-end fitout featuring local timbers, the tour boat also includes high-quality customer service and local cuisine. The galley and service area are linked by a dumb waiter, with the layout and function of the catering spaces attended to by a commercial food and beverage consultant. Interior features include the use of a stretched membrane ceiling in the upper deck, while the visibility is guarded by integrated de-misting and exterior washing systems.

Offering interpretive tours into the heart of the UNESCO Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Spirit of the Wild is designed and built to give customers a unique natural experience.


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.