Fall 2022 was a busy time for the crew of Escapades Memphrémagog’s cruise boat, the Grand Cru. We were carrying out major repairs and maintenance work on the hull of our 135-foot catamaran—something that required extraordinary technical expertise!
“Embark” with us on a “voyage” and learn what was involved in this one-of-a-kind project…
A First Time for Everything!
When a ship’s hull needs to be repaired, it’s floated into a drydock which is then drained of water. Unfortunately, unlike on the St. Lawrence River, there is no drydock on Lake Memphremagog, so we had to engage all our powers of creativity and ingenuity in order to build one!
Experienced professionals, which included all the members of our team, as well as naval architects from NavTech, grappled with many technical challenges along the way, but they finally came up with a solution along with a team of metallurgists, transport experts, and even a scuba diver.
The final result was an extraordinary achievement and, undoubtedly, a world first!
How It Was Done
Escapades Memphrémagog ordered custom-made, aluminum cofferdams (enclosures that allow water to be pumped out, leaving the enclosed area dry) after which the various teams could get to work, to inspect the hull, rudder, propellers, and the mechanical systems.
The cofferdams were installed by a diver and when they were emptied, they created a safe, dry working space under the hull, all without having to lift the boat out of the water or touch the bottom of the lake.
A similar technique is sometimes used when constructing a bridge, and it was naval architect Paul E. Barbeau, the president and founder of the Quebec firm NavTech, who came up the innovative idea of using cofferdams. Since 2020, no fewer than five different methods of hauling out the boat had been examined and closely analyzed, before eventually finding one that would work, thanks to the design suggested by Mr. Barbeau.
“There could have been simpler and cheaper solutions for carrying out this project,” says Élyse L’Espérance, President and Deputy CEO of PAL+ | Tourist Experiences, the umbrella group for Escapades Memphrémagog.
“For us, the key concern was the environment. We didn’t want to risk releasing any particles or contaminants into the water, nor did we want to disturb the bottom of the lake. As well, we needed to find a sustainable option so that these hull inspections could be repeated in future years.”
The cofferdams themselves were custom-made by HM Métal in Sainte-Sophie-de-Lévrard, specialists in steel and aluminum construction. They can be reused when needed.
You can watch Radio-Canada’s coverage (French only) about these maintenance works by clicking here.
Coming Up in 2023
The work is well under way, but it was put on hold in November as winter approached and it will be completed in the spring (weather permitting). In the meantime, the cofferdams are stored at the MacPherson wharf.
The boat will be back in service in June—ready for the first cruises of the 2023 season!