There are over 1000 houseboats plying in Kerala backwaters, mainly in Apaluzha. However, not one of them is build under class. Although such a process ensures quality of construction and safety in operations, such a practice is not followed.
There are two reasons why that is not the case:
- It is difficult to establish the design and build under class
- Cost is higher, about 100% especially wooden houseboats
This increase in cost might appear unreasonable, however, the current boats are build with lot of compromises in quality and safety. An wooden houseboat will have the following differences:
- About twice quality of wood needed since frame size is larger and spacing is shorter; planks are thicker
- Deck is stronger, deck beams are closer, pillars are closer
- Only marine grade plywood and good quality wood is used
- Type approved engine, generator, valves, panels, electrical cables, outfitting items are used
- All system design ensures reliability, redundancy and safety
When MTDC wanted their new houseboats to be built under class, Navgathi was the only choice. The added complexity of this project was that the hull of the boats was of wood. Indian Register of Shipping (IR Class) is natural choice of classification, but since in IR Class there are no wooden hull construction rules, the structural design rules for wooden boat construction from RINA (Italian Register) rules was used and approval done by IR Class.
Two vessels are delivered with full class certification and another two are under construction.
Particulars of IR Class Project
Length (OA): 27.41 m
Length (Hull): 23.36 m
Breadth: 5.1 m
Depth: 2.1 m
Design Draft Max: 0.6 m
Engine: Ashok Leyland ALM 400; 109 BHP @ 2000 RPM
Hull Material: Anjili Wood
Service Speed: 6 Knots
Complement: 8 Passenger, 3 Crew
Flag: Maharashtra Maritime Board
Classification: IRS, + IW Wooden Houseboat, +IY, Inland Vessel Zone 3