Yacht passerelles: The first and last impression
Passerelles made of beautiful metal alloys and solid teak decking is what greets an owner or their guests first. High quality materials and attention to detail is what is expected when boarding a superyacht, so it is vital a yacht passerelle reflects this.
The exceptional superiority and value of a vessel needs to extend all the way to the dock and the passerelle is typically the primary entranceway onto a yacht.
Technical demands of a passerelle
The technical demands regarding a passerelle and boarding ladders are high. Eric Heybroek, from Dutch passerelle manufacture PSI Feebe - Feenstra Boarding Equipment, gave the following demands all passerelles face.
- They must be able to move up and down, sideways (two directions) and must have self-levelling steps. For storage it may be needed that they fold automatically.
- With all the needed movements of the items they will be equipped with hydraulically operated mechanisms. All these mechanisms and hydraulics must be invisible from all sides.
- The system must be a rigid construction. Some of these items on the larger superyachts have a considerable length (e.g. 6m).
- The width between the handrails must be enough to walk through with bags or suitcases in hand.
- The passerelle and boarding ladders may need to be invisible when not in use. They have to be stored as compact as possible.
- The items have to be solid and with a steady feel when walking on them but also they have to be of the lowest weight as possible.
- With the size, weight and complex movements the item must still be easily controlled without any possible dangers. The needed hydraulic power is rather large.
Different types of passerelles available
American based passerelle manufacture Nautical Structures lists the various passerelles available.
Single-telescoping type passerelle - The single-telescoping type passerelle is a design that enhances the stowed efficiency and deployed flexibility of the plank. The passerelle may be deployed with the telescoping section extended or retracted. This allows the pocketing hydraulic passerelle to be used in a variety of boarding conditions.
Double Telescopic - The double-telescoping type passerelle is a further extension on the single telescoping passerelle and its design increases the stowed efficiency of the plank. This allows the pocketing hydraulic passerelle to stow in shorter spaces in the yacht. The passerelle may be deployed with the telescoping sections extended or retracted. This allows the pocketing hydraulic passerelle to be used in a variety of boarding conditions.
Fold Over Telescoping - The fold-over passerelle provides a unique solution for vessel designs with limited stowage space or requirements for larger deployment length. The folding design provides the greatest efficiency in the stowed:deployed ratio. The passerelle folds in stack when stowed.
Fold Under - The fold-under passerelle, much like the fold over passerelle provides a solution for vessel designs with limited stowage space or requirements for enhanced deployment length. The folding design provides the greatest efficiency in the stowed:deployed ratio and this ratio is further enhanced when the folding plank section includes an additional telescoping plank section. The passerelle folds in stack when stowed.
Jack-Knife - The passerelle rotates starboard in a Jack-Knife movement and stows behind the transom hatch. When the hatch is closed the name of the vessel is on show.
Additional features to look for on a passerelle
Besides telescopic, folding and jack knife features, passerelles can have additional features such as,
Self levelling Stair Treads - This allows the passerelle to deploy in steeper angles providing a greater utility of deck-to-dock service height. The self-levelling stair treads essentially turn the passerelle into an accommodation stairway.
Seamed Teak Decking - A style feature that enhances the look and style of the passerelle, and adds the sure footing of teak battens.
LED Lighting - For the ultimate finishing touch this option integrates lighting strips into the teak-decking option. The Passerelle’s elegance is stunningly obvious in the evening hours with the subtle contrast of light emitting from the teak-walking surface.
What to look for when purchasing a passerelle or boarding system
The consumer usually checks only the price and the simple characteristics (such us dimensions) on the item they need to buy. According to Natalia Venieri from Greek based SEA&BOAT they should also check;
- The technical characteristics
- The final finish of the product (the attention to detail by the constructor, such as the mirror-like finish of the stainless steel on the gangway and its rails
- The raw material quality. On a gangway for example, it is very important what kind of material the hydraulic piston is made of. Using materials such as inox and nickel-plated brass will avoid corrosion.
- The piston’s cable connections are very important too. They must be internal (blind – to be invisible/unseen).
- The technical service after the sale, the supplier offers, and the period of guarantee.
- The certification on the equipment. – Are they supported by any professional bodies such as the EU Certification?
Bespoke passerelle options
Superyachts vary drastically from one another that's why it is important (when possible) to have a bespoke-made passerelle. Anco Kok from leading Dutch manufacturing company Cramm Yachting Systems commented, "Passerelles should be transformed from a standard product into a custom-made solution that meets the wishes and demands of clients. Passerelles, for example, can be equipped with different types of lighting to ensure optimal safety in the dark while serving as a real eye-catcher.
Anco further commented, "A wide range of options to meet client requirements are available, such as remote radiographic controls, built-in communication cables, shore cable brackets or the application of special access control systems."
How to choose a passerelle manufacture
According to Javier Vives from Spainish manufacturers, Tecnocean Balear,”You need a professional with high experience in working with all materials in use as well as hydraulics, and electronic knowledge. It is important to use this expert on-board the yacht so they can study the best choices and possibilities for the yacht.”
Javier reinforces the need for quality materials, “The quality has to be the best possible because the passerelle is the only \"access way\", meaning it is the first and last impression a yacht makes. Quality materials must be used throughout”
A final point which is just as important it that it is important to check if the seller has a technical department that will carry through the installation and will be available for technical support after, not simply to assign the technical services to a external partner.