03 January, 2018

Neoteric customizes hovercraft for world's most remote private island

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Home Island is a tiny, palm-covered speck at an uninhabited coral atoll, much like “Gilligan’s Island” in 1960s television series. Home Island is the world’s most remote privately-owned land, a thousand miles from Hawaii, 400 miles from an airport, and 130 miles from the nearest island village in the Republic of Kiribati.

Home Island co-owner Manantial De La Torre of Santa Fe, New Mexico has an access problem. The atoll is a necklace of islands around a deep lagoon, entirely surrounded by an impassable coral reef with no natural “passes” where boats can pass through. The lagoon became navigable only in 1941 when the U.S. Navy built a ship channel from the ocean into the lagoon during World War II.

Today a boat can access the lagoon, but then nearly a mile of shallow, non-navigable mudflats prevents access to Home Island. These flats, part of a National Wildlife Refuge, are a protected habitat for mollusks and sandworms. Even at high tide the water on the mud flats is only ankle-deep, so no boat can pass. At low tide the flats are exposed but are too muddy and fragile for normal vehicle access.

The ideal solution for crossing these mud flats was a hovercraft. And, because of its advantageous features, a Neoteric hovercraft was selected as the ideal solution. As the world’s most experienced light hovercraft manufacturer, with hovercraft operating in 50+ nations, we produce the only hovercraft on the market with the ability to brake and back up.

Neoteric customized a rescue hovercraft specifically to meet the challenging needs at Home Island. The hovercraft flies on an 8-inch cushion of air across the mud flats, lagoon water at any depth, and dry land without leaving ruts or damaging the coral reefs or the sand creatures’ burrows.
De La Torre's hovercraft, customized with oars and other features, undergoes stringent performance testing on the Wabash River near Neoteric's factory before delivery.

Another difficulty solved by the customized Neoteric Hovercraft is corrosion. Year-round rain, tropical heat, humidity, and wafts of corrosive salt spray make corrosion a constant problem on Home Island. In World War II, military equipment rusted rapidly, wood rotted, and now even vinyl rots. Neoteric refitted a used saltwater rescue hovercraft with extra marinizing protection to resist long-term corrosion.

Visits to the remote property are rare, so the hovercraft will likely be stored there unused for long periods of time. The electronics are encased in a waterproof, static-proof Faraday Cage. Epoxy coatings are used throughout. Metal hardware is predominantly stainless steel. During storage, the engine and other components must be covered with a waxy protective coating that is more inert in the heat than Vaseline or industrial Cosmolene. Junctions of unlike metals are protected from galvanic (bimetallic) corrosion.

The hovercraft’s detailed customization eliminates yet another threat: in tropical storms and tsunamis, sea-surges occasionally wash right over Home Island. Neoteric designed a craft-portable aluminum “raised igloo” shed that suspends the hovercraft from its roof, seven feet above the ground to allow a storm surge of seawater and flotsam to pass under the craft. The structure is anchored against these surges as well as protected from 600 miles-per-hour winds and flying debris.

The final menace is voracious swarms of hermit crabs. Scuttling around in scavenged seashells, they will eat anything soft - from shoe leather to plastic to each other. Since the hovercraft is elevated during long-term storage, its insulated wires and the nylon skirts will be kept crab-proof.

Because of Home Island’s extreme remoteness, the need for frequent hovercraft maintenance would be highly impractical. It was critical that De La Torre's hovercraft be as structurally sound and protected as possible, with a reputation for longevity and low maintenance. It needs to stay operative as long as possible. And that is another reason why De La Torre says he chose a Neoteric Hovercraft.

As Neoteric President Chris Fitzgerald says, “We ship marine hovercraft to exotic locations all the time, but this could be the ultimate. It’s beyond the beyond.

Let Neoteric customize a hovercraft made just for you!

No comments:

Post a Comment