Pilots, passengers enjoy highly maneuverable launches at Vancouver


When the sun decides to shine in Vancouver, British Columbia, it shines bright. On a day last June, it beamed upon the launch Tymac Spray, slicing the water of Burrard Inlet at 35 knots, cutting up spray to suit the vessel’s name. Spray and its identical twin Tymac Storm were built by Kvichak Marine of Seattle and delivered to Tymac Launch Services in the spring of 2015.

Two other essentially identical vessels, Tymac Wave and Tymac Crest, were built at Daigle Welding & Marine of Campbell River, British Columbia, and are working Tymac’s Prince Rupert operations.

Spray and Storm are 37-by-13-foot speedsters powered by twin 425-hp John Deere 6090SFM85 Tier 3 mains and ZF 305-3 marine gears coupled to Hamilton H322 waterjets. “We can cruise up to 30 knots and full speed is 35 knots,” said Capt. Joe Szafranski. Szafranski, at the helm of Spray on a boatman’s tour of Vancouver’s harbor added, “The boat rides very well and it doesn’t feel like you’re going that fast.” 

Waterjets project through the transom and, unlike propellers, are not as vulnerable to floating debris. The jets, free of the strain of clutching in and out of gear, enjoy a longer life. Szafranski added that the jets are smooth and, should a dead stop be necessary, the risk of injury is greatly reduced. “And you can shift these boats sideways with the jets and the boat can turn in its own radius,” the captain said.

The vessels carry up to 12 crew and passengers, and are primarily employed as pilot and crew boats transporting BC Coast Pilots, government officials, ship’s agents and surveyors, longshoremen, repair crews, etc., in Vancouver Harbour, Indian Arm, Howe Sound, the Fraser River and southern Georgia Strait.

Capt. Joe Szafranski operates Tymac Spray as a Smit Marine tugboat arrives on his starboard side for a ship-assist assignment.

The boats are fitted with generous windows that afford panoramic visibility, and the deck head windows allow the helmsman a clear view up the towering hulls of ships for crew and pilot transfers.

Spray and Storm make up two of four launch vessels in Tymac’s fleet moored at the north foot of Main Street in Vancouver, and they come and go with regularity. The 36-foot, 375-hp Tymac Agent and Tymac Pilot are conventional propeller-driven boats, built by ABD Boats in 2011.

Later in the day, aboard Tymac Storm, captains Mitchel Rigmey and Josh McWilliam were headed out to pick up BC Coast Pilot Capt. Quinn Rollins off of the bulk carrier Aye Evolution, at anchor west of the Lion’s Gate Bridge.

At the helm, Rigmey walked Storm sideways to the gangplank while McWilliam took up a position on the stern, ready to assist the transfer. Rollins made his way down the gangplank and stepped across onto Spray’s stern. No drama, just a smooth approach and transfer.


Tymac Spray in the process of docking at Tymac Marine’s Main Street Dock, rejoining the rest of the company’s fleet in Burrard Inlet.


Utilizing the aft operating station, Capt. Mitchel Rigmey eases Tymac Storm toward a gangway to pick up a BC Coast Pilot.


Rigmey is at the controls of Tymac Storm with the company’s tugmaster and launchmaster Josh McWilliam as they transport BC Coast Pilot Capt. Quinn Rollins, far left, to a Vancouver dock.


One of Tymac Spray’s John Deere 6090SFM85 Tier 3 main engines.


McWilliam stands ready to assist Rollins as he finishes descending an accommodation ladder to disembark the bulk carrier Aye Evolution and transfer to the launch.


Tymac Spray motors past a dock and pilings in Vancouver Harbour.


By Professional Mariner Staff