The paddlers will depart Friday, April 1 from Windsor Reserve in Devonport at approximately 3:30 PM, finishing their epic voyage at 4:30 PM at the east end of the Viaduct, Visitors Berth 21.
The boat is a human powered paddle-wheel catamaran. Surely the only one of its kind in the world, it is constructed of “found materials” including corrugated roofing iron, plywood and glass fibre composite. It took the DTA engineers about 200 hours to build in their own time, after work and on weekends.
The boat, dubbed “HMNZS Insufferable,” was built for a team-building Navy raft race in February. When the race was cancelled due to the Navy’s disaster relief work in Christchurch, the DTA engineers decided to put their craft to good use with a fundraiser. They are donating contributions to the Red Cross 2011 earthquake appeal. Contributions are being accepted at www.fundraiseonline.co.nz/DefenceTechnologyAgencyNZDF/
DTA organizers say the paddle is a way to use engineering ingenuity to support a worthy cause.
“The DTA staff wanted to help the Christchurch earthquake victims and support our military forces, who are heavily involved in the disaster relief effort providing equipment and supplies in Canterbury,” says Andy Richardson, DTA’s director of human systems. “We planned to use this boat for a fun race with the Navy, but when the earthquake struck, they were called to duty and we cooked up this fundraiser to show our support. And no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke, Friday just happened to be a good day to run the race across the harbour based on times and tides.”
Providing they do not sink, the DTA paddlers will cover 3.3 kilometres — about 30 times further than the distance the raft was designed to handle, adding interest for any viewers. Will it make the distance? A bilge pump has been added to the raft in the event of trouble.
“Our test trial went well and all the design figures look good on paper, so on Friday we’ll see if the team got their numbers right,” Mr Richardson says.
DTA (Defence Technology Agency) is based in Devonport and provides science and technology support to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
A live web stream of Friday’s event will be provided by Densi Ltd.