First SubCTech system installed on new Balance 482 in Cape Town. Company says more to come

In a first for the local recreational boatbuilding sector, a new Balance 482 fresh out of the Balance Catamarans Cape Town yard was fitted with a German-engineered SubCTech ocean monitoring system earlier this month.

The project was inspired by Balance Catamaran client Jono Rabley, his wife Helga and young son Kai, who wish to contribute to climate science and data gathering while circumnavigating the globe.

Data collected by their SubCtech system will be fed into a global database used by climate sciences. Similar installations are on the cards for other Balance Catamarans, with the possibility of some other boat builders likely to follow suit  for owners eager to do their bit to help save the planet – or to at least understand it a bit better understand it.

The new Balance 482, Sealife, was fitted with an SubCtech OceanPack™ RACE unit, a smaller version of bigger SubCtech water monitoring systems used mainly by commercial clients. The OceanPack™ RACE version became available following successful trial deployment during the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race. “Volvo asked us if we could build a small system to collect scientific data, and that was the point where we were really starting to minimise (the unit) and optimise it in terms of weight, size and power consumption,” explained Jana Fahning, SubCtech Chief Technical Officer of Ocean Monitoring and Blue Economy. “We had two units on Volvo Ocean yachts, and we got such precious climate and micro-plastic data,” Fahning told SABBEX.

Open ocean recreational yachts provide the opportunity to monitor water in remote locations generally not visited by commercial boats.

Sealife is a case in point, with the boat due to sample a broad sweep of ocean as from September when she departs Cape Town with Rabley and his family. They will be travelling with the additional satisfaction of knowing they are recording key data sets — including PH, salinity, water temperature, CO2 levels and atmospheric data — as they circumnavigate the planet. Additional SubCtech monitoring capacity can be added to the system at a later stage.

The Project also involves a collaboration with Geomar, the centre for ocean research in Kiel Germany, which will be post-processing the collected data for upload to global databases.

Jono, a civil engineer with extensive experience in environmental consulting, told SABBEX the SubCTech unit was “compatible with what we wanted to do”. He says both he and Helga are well aware of the need for climate research, of which ocean monitoring was an integral component. “We both have a passion for the ocean and have always tried to do things to give back,” Jono said, adding that Helga through her watersports experience is particularly aware of the need for ocean monitoring. The couple founded the NuEarth Foundation to create awareness for a healthy ocean and inspire future generations, and have been working with Balance and SubCTech since 2019 to install the new unit.

In a Balance Catamarans newsletter article due to be published this week the Company said SubCtech systems are due to be added to two more Balance catamarans in the near future. The Balance team had overseen the installation process in Cape Town “to ensure the OceanPack™ RACE unit would work effectively in the Balance 482 catamarans – including all future models,” the Company said.

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