We use a Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat (RIB) built by Naiad NZ. This 5.8m boat is specifically rigged out to allow quick stowage of safety equipment as well as orca observation gear before launching anywhere around the country. The boat lives on a trailer at the Orca Research base, ready for quick deployment.
Naiad boats have been touted as the ‘4×4 of the sea’ and we would have to agree with this assessment, given we have used our boat in the wildly varying conditions found around New Zealand. No matter if we have rough seas, wind, rain or of course sunny days we are always glad to be out on our Naiad.
The boat was previously powered by twin Yamaha 4-Stroke engines, but we have switched to a single 150 Yamaha engine. This new engine has proved to be extremely fuel efficient, allowing us to travel further to see the orca (as well as conserve fuel through the fuel management system gauges).
Given that the New Zealand orca will often approach boats, it is vitally important that the engine is quiet so as to minimize disturbance. Whilst alongside the orca during their hunting periods or travelling slowly with them as they sleep the Yamaha engine allows us to be confident that we limit our disturbance of the orca.