March 1, 2016, Export Marine launched the largest Sport Yacht to ever splash Greers Ferry Lake. This 51' Sea Ray Sundancer was quite an undertaking.
The boat was at our location in Little Rock. It took a crew of six men over three hours to get this behemoth loaded onto a trailer. Numerous attempts were made to get her centered and positioned for a smooth ride and launch. After she was loaded, she measured over 90' long, 15' wide, and 16' tall, weighing over 80,000 lbs.
The following day, we started the short trip northbound at 9am. With three escort vehicles, one pole car leading and two chasers following. We made it to the end of I-430 and while going over a bump in the road (no pun intended), the front trailer axle bent causing the tires to rub on the trailer frame. With smoke going eveyrwhere, the truck managed to merge on I-40 and pull off to asses the damage. Within an hour and a half, the truck was temporarily fixed on the side of the road. With fingers crossed we attempted to get back on the road.
The trip went slow and smooth at about 40MPH. We made it to Conway and turned onto Hwy 65, nearly taking over both lanes all the way up to Choctaw. Turning off Hwy 65 heading to the launch site was challenging. The boat was too tall for some of the phone/cable and power lines. We had to man handle the lines from the top of the boat to prevent damage.
Finally after 4 hours on the road covering almost 80 miles, the boat made it to the launch site. The lake had recently gone from a near flooding stage to a near drought stage in only a few weeks. This unanticipated drop in water level, made the launch even more complicated. The rising level brought sand and debris onto the ramp. With the lake lowered fast, the sand and debris remained ashore without receding back into the lake.
So we unstrapped the lashings, removed the signs and got the rig turned around and into position for the launch. We only had one shot to do this and do it right. There was no pulling the boat out if something went wrong as we were literally in sinking sand. We directed the truck as close to what we thought was the ramp. The boat had substantial tongue weight on the truck. While going down the ramp the front wheels of the truck started coming off the ground prohibiting any maneuvers. Yes, the rig was popping a wheelie at less than 1MPH. She slowly and gently kissed the waters of Greers Ferry Lake for the first time.
Climbing onboard, we inspected the boat for water leaks, opened the seacocks, pre-heated the Diesel engines and fired her up. All systems checked ok, and after the engines warmed up, the truck started backing her in all the way. The launch could not have gone better! She floated off in almost 8 foot of water. With both 540 Cummins in reverse we headed towards the deep waters, rotated her around and prepared for the 30 mile ride to the marina. Unfortunately for the truck, it was in 12" of sand, unable to get traction to pull itself out. With the help of four other vehicles tied together the truck made it to hard pavment slinging sand and burning rubber.
Weather conditions were mild with 5-10 mile winds, and a gray sky that looked as if the bottom was about to fall out. We got her on plane and were cruising at 22 MPH or 20 knots burning 30 gallons an hour. Within an hour and a half, she arrived at Eden Isle Marina, her new home (for now).
Her maiden voyage was a success. After gracefully backing her into the slip, we tied her up, shut the engines down and jumped on the dock. With a long sigh and a sense of relief our mission was accomplished!
Throughout all the hurdles and rough conditions faced, we managed to prevail. The boat was delivered unscathed. Export Marines' knowlege and expertise continues to grow and this milestone is a mere begining for what else is to come.
Proudly selling and delivering boats 15-51 foot in Arkansas!