UFO: Unidentified freighted object

Is it a boat? Is it a plane? Hastings house-mover Noel Baker hauls a strange-looking craft from packing shed to port in one easy move.   BY GAVIN RILEY

Haulage.jpgIf you wonder what the strange craft in these photographs is, relax – you’re not alone. Housemover Noel Baker felt exactly the same way when he first set eyes on it.

“You think you’re looking at an aeroplane,” Baker says. “It’s a massive looking thing.”

The 13-metre-long, 5.5-metre wide, 4.2-metre high, 6.9 tonne object is a trimaran designed by Craig Loomes, responsible for the Earthrace round-the-world boat.

Baker recently helped manœuvre the trimaran out of a Hastings packing shed before transporting it from Hastings to Napier in the early morning.

The craft was built by Warrick Yeoman, who learned and honed his skills in half a dozen Auckland boat yards and now works for himself. Building a prototype of Earthrace gave him the idea of creating his own exotic craft.

After building the deck in Auckland, he had North Shore company Boat Haulage transport it to Hastings where he spent two years completing the vessel – which he describes as “a show pony”.

“It’s not a normal looking boat. It’s pretty radical, very similar to Earthrace,” Yeoman says.

“It’s made for rough conditions and is designed to go under the waves rather than over them. I’m hoping to get 40 knots out of it. It’ll do that through a big swell of four to five metres.”

Yeoman says the trimaran would be capable of 50 knots if it wasn’t for all its “bells and whistles”, which include a coffee machine, water-maker, air-conditioning, full sound system, flat-screen TV, microwave, and electronics. 

“It’s not really a boat you take the whole family away in because it’s limited for space inside,” he says.

“I’ve made it more for a profile because I’ve gone out to work for myself and thought I’d better make something a bit radical that would get noticed. I’m using it for my portfolio more than anything else.”

Yeoman says he will eventually sell the trimaran, but because of its unique nature he has no idea what it’s worth and will need to have it valued by a broker. He’ll be sad to part with it: his Tauranga-based father Murray helped with the initial building work before his death two years ago, and the craft is called Azzum (“Muzza” backwards) in memory of his father.

Yeoman says Baker did a very professional job in transporting the trimaran to the Napier marina where it is moored and from where it has now undergone sea trials.

“He was very careful, double-checking everything, and making sure I was happy with the whole part of moving the boat out of the shed and the crane operation onto the truck,” Yeoman says.

Baker, head of Hastings House Removals, says the trimaran was only the fifth boat he has hauled in his 26 years in heavy haulage, but the 20 kilometre move presented no problems: “It was pretty straightforward, an everyday shift.”

He used his company’s Kenworth truck and the smaller of its two house-moving trailers to ensure at least 100mm clearance under all overhead wires. The move began at 5am and was completed just 70 minutes later. The pilot was Sandy Walker, of Transcare Services in Hastings.

Baker never set out to make a career in heavy haulage. He hired himself and his truck out to Hastings House Removals for a day in 1982 to help out, stayed five years, then bought the company. Today his son Carl shares the running of the business.

“He tells me what to do,” jokes Baker, who says he has no plans to retire. “What else would I do? It’s been pretty good. Like everything else, it’s what you make it. I still enjoy it so I’ll just keep going.”

The Bakers’ area of operation, governed by customer demand, is 50-60 percent in the Bay of Plenty and up round the east cape, with the rest in Hawke’s Bay.

Baker says his company’s workload is “consistent”. Like most housemovers, he works diligently to maintain his throughput of homes – and proved hard to contact even during Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend.

“It’s supply and demand and the demand is there,” he explains. “The supply of houses is not diminishing but a lot of the stuff is rubbish and not worth having. So if anything comes up that is well worth looking at, you have to go and have a look at it.” 

Contractor Vol.32  No.6  July 2008
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