Whale-watching catamaran repowered with Volvo Penta engines


(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) — When it came time to replace the old engines in his whale-watching vessel, Capt. Joe Nazar chose Volvo Penta and has enjoyed the benefits of improved fuel efficiency, lower emissions, reduced noise levels and better performance ever since.

Nazar’s 64-foot catamaran, Kitty Kat, was retrofitted with a pair of Volvo Penta D11 625 diesel engines in April, replacing the existing 12-liter Tier 2 engines. The installation was performed at Bay Marine Boatworks in collaboration with Helmut’s Marine Service, an authorized Volvo Penta Power Center in San Francisco.

Kitty Kat carries up to 99 passengers on daily whale-watching tours of the Farallon Islands National Marine Sanctuary out of San Francisco. “Our customers could tell the difference right away after we installed the Volvo Penta engines,” said Nazar. “With no diesel fumes on deck, we are getting fewer cases of seasickness when we’re out on the open ocean, and you can barely hear the engines when they’re running — just a low-level ‘swoosh’ like the sound of a passenger jetliner in the air.”

“We selected the Volvo Penta diesels at the recommendation of the knowledgeable team at Helmut’s Marine Service,” said Nazar. “Our requirements were a clean-burning reliable engine backed by a strong warranty and the ready availability of qualified service support nearby. That’s exactly what we got from Volvo Penta.”

Nazar reports fuel savings of at least 60 percent since installing the Volvo Penta engines. “I don’t go to the fuel dock as often, and that goes straight to our bottom line,” he said.

“It’s a great comfort, knowing that I have access to fast and responsive service from Helmut’s factory-trained technicians whenever I need it, day or night,” added Nazar. “They handle all the routine service and maintenance requirements as well as my extended warranty plan.”

Partial funding for the project came from a California Air Resources Board (CARB) grant under the Carl Moyer repower program, which subsidizes commercial owners who upgrade to modern cleaner-burning engines to meet EPA emission requirements. Nazar said he plans to repower two additional boats with Volvo Penta diesels later this year as the grant money is released.

“Our authorized power centers like Helmut’s Marine Service are the critical element in our rapidly growing presence in the commercial marine marketplace across North America,” said Marcia Kull, vice president of marine sales for Volvo Penta of the Americas. “They’re the backbone of our business.”

By Professional Mariner Staff