The sun is shining on a March morning, and the sea is calm. Although boats are still in winter storage, the new boat model from Bella Boats, Aquador 35aq, rests at dock. The boat has come to Espoo to be inspected by Sampsa Kärnä, a boat surveyor at VTT Expert Services. The inspection is part of the CE certification process of the boat model.
"We have been designing and implementing this Aquador model for one and a half years, and it was launched in January 2017 at the Boot Düsseldorf exhibition. The boat is a 35-foot (10.2 m) reinforced-plastic motor boat with a maximum speed of 37 knots. The boat model was designed by the Norwegian, Espen Thorupp," says Klaus Lamminpää, a product development engineer at Bella Boats.
In recent years, Bella Boats has launched new boat models at a rate of around three models per year. The boat models are inspected and CE certified by VTT Expert Services Ltd.
VTT was involved in the conformity assessment of this boat as early as during the concept phase. The first partial inspection was carried out in the autumn of 2016, when the drawings and the hull structure were verified to match each other during a visit to the boatyard. The inspection also involved the measurement of the thickness of the laminates of the hull and the stiffeners, review of the installations already made, and discussions on the requirements set on installations yet to be made by the standards.
Inclining experiment helps determine stability
On a March morning, the boat model is first subjected to an inclining experiment. By moving weights with known weights precisely around the boat, measurement results of the boat's inclination can be obtained. Kärnä will then calculate the height of the boat's centre of gravity based on these results. At the end of the experiment, the boat's floating position is also measured.
When the height of the centre of gravity is precisely known, the stability of the boat model can be verified with calculations that VTT performs with the NAPA software. The boat's CE plate shows some of the loads used in the calculations, such as the maximum number of persons and luggage allowed. The calculations also take into account liquids stored in tanks, such as fuel and water.
Inclining experiment weights
The surveyor keeps an eye on the measurement results
The boat's handling characteristics are checked on a test run
In addition to performing the inclining experiment, Kärnä takes the boat on a test run, during which the boat's handling characteristics are evaluated at different speeds. The boat's top speed and steering characteristics, for example, are tested during the test run.
Because Aquador 35 is over 8 metres long, it is subjected to the Quick Turn test defined in the standard: at full speed, the steering wheel is quickly turned 180 degrees. In the test, the boat must turn in a controlled manner without hazardous characteristics.
After getting ashore, Kärnä is satisfied with the test run. "The boat reacts to steering excellently, and the handling characteristics remained good throughout the test."
Handling characteristics were tested on a test run
Certification after the survey
In addition to the inclining experiment and the test run, the survey includes an inspection of the boat's installations. This means the inspection of the installations of the fuel system, electrical systems, the engine, etc., and checking the depth of the swimmer ladder, for example
Once the installations have been inspected and the stability-related verification calculations have been completed, any identified issues are taken into consideration in the drawings. After this, Expert Services grants a CE certification to the boat model, and a blue VTT certification plate that is also the manufacturer's CE plate is affixed to every Aquador 35aq boat.
Bella Boats is a Finnish boat manufacturer whose model ranges include Aquador, Flipper and Bella. Up to 80% of sales are to abroad. Sales-wise, the largest country is Sweden, amounting to as much as 50% of the entire production. Then come Norway and Finland. The boats are manufactured in Finland.
VTT Expert Services surveys and certifies
As an accredited Notified Body (NB No. 0537), VTT Expert Services Ltd verifies the compliance of boats, boat equipment and production according to the requirements of the EU Recreational Craft Directive.
A blue VTT certification plate on a boat indicates that VTT Expert Services has impartially type inspected and CE certified the boat model.