Report From The Shipyard: Cascadia Gets A Double Engine Upgrade

Point Hope shipyard, Cascadia’s home for the winter. Photo: Jordan Lambe

The on-and-off rainfall has done little to dampen the spirits of the Maple Leaf Adventures crew as their annual shipyard work gets underway.

In an unprecedented time for the tourism sector, this work gives some of our crew employment over the winter, as well as a deeper understanding of the ships’ unique character and capabilities. The next time you travel with us, you’re likely to find the friendly folks serving your wine also understand how every system behind the scenes is plumbed, wired or built.

This year there’s a lot of work going on under the hull of our three vessels, but one of most exciting additions comes in a pair of Cummins X15 marine engines for our go-anywhere, expedition style catamaran, Cascadia.

Out with the old, in with the new

Did you know that while Cascadia was built in 2007, her engines were manufactured twenty years prior for a fishing boat in the North Sea? And to be clear, that’s nothing to scoff at.

This era of engine offered extreme reliability, and while much larger than modern engines of similar horsepower, what you’d get back is dependability well-suited to long periods at sea. Ideal for trawling for mackerel in the Atlantic, or cruising remote river estuaries in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Her engines have served us well, but the boost in horsepower and higher fuel efficiency have us rapt for the X15; it’ll take the ship’s current cruising speed from eight knots up to about nine and a half, and our engineers won’t complain about the extra space they afford, either.

The upgrade also comes with a computerised control module, providing advanced diagnostic and monitoring capabilities. It means we’ll know exactly how much fuel we need and if there’s a problem with the engine, before it becomes a problem.

Lowering our cruising footprint

Sustainable travel is more than just a line item for Maple Leaf, it’s an intrinsic part of our DNA. That’s why we’re proud in saying Cascadia’s new engines will consume about a third less fuel than the ones before.

This is thanks to the X15’s common rail system which offers the highest injection pressure in its class, resulting in an efficient fuel burn for cleaner emissions and optimised fuel economy.

Aboard or ashore, guests participate in a growing conservation-based economy

Aboard and ashore, our guests participate in a growing conservation-based economy. Photo: Jeff Reynolds

We’re already committed to leaving nothing behind in the natural areas we visit, and despite the hardships that came with the pandemic, we never stopped giving to important conservation efforts on the coast. From carrying out the largest ocean cleanup project in BC history, to active involvement in advocating for wild salmon and supporting bear research and community stewardship on our coast, every one of our interactions with the natural world is underpinned by principles of ecotourism.

Let’s talk about another kind of pollution, noise

If you have travelled remote corners of the world aboard a sea vessel, you’ll understand that silence can be pretty noisy. Well, our new engines will allow cruisers to explore some of British Columbia’s quietest places without worry of engine noise interrupting the moment or disturbing resident wildlife.

It’s worth noting that compared to larger yachts and cruising vessels, Cascadia’s engines are a lot smaller. We move slowly when in the presence of wildlife, therefore producing relatively little noise. Now that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.

Every time someone came to us with an idea for soundproofing, it was a resounding ‘yes’. Not only will the X15 naturally produce less noise, we have invested in a muffler to reduce what noise is produced, and will use soft mounts to connect all the machinery together.  We think people will really notice the difference.

Orcas approaching Cascadia, idle at a distance

Our coast is home to many species of whales, who rely on sound to navigate their environment. Photo: Philip Stone

Our guests aren’t the only consideration though, we are committed with this refit to making Cascadia even more whale-friendly. When we’re idling the ship’s resting speed will be considerably lower, making her close to silent much like our smaller ships.

The ears aren’t the only place you’ll notice a difference, modern engines create less vibration making for an all-in-all smoother sail. So there you have it – if you have yet to cruise the remote fjords, deserted beaches and whale-rich channels and bays of British Columbia aboard Cascadia, our next season is shaping up like a perfect time to do so. Keep posted for future updates from the shipyard!