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Helicopters and Superyachts

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Helicopters and Superyachts

Old 22nd Jul 2011, 23:21
  #21 (permalink)  
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Fantastic pics! Thanks to all for posting. The colour scheme co-ordinated yachts and heli's are awesome! As JimBall states 'views from another planet' I have seen one of Abramoviche's heli's at Redhill Aerodrome....nice!
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Old 22nd Jul 2011, 23:57
  #22 (permalink)  
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Nice thread!

Some nice little boats and even better heli's
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Old 23rd Jul 2011, 01:38
  #23 (permalink)  
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Facinating stuff.... that people should have so much money...? could not even fantasise about having so much wealth to live that kind of lifestyle...

thanks for posting the photos..
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Old 23rd Jul 2011, 07:20
  #24 (permalink)  
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Thanks much, great thread.

When I was in flight school I worked as a guard on a USNS Ship that was being worked on at the shipyard. Paul Allen's yacht came in during the day and I was looking at it that night thinking to myself, "phsaw, that thing isn't so big". Then someone walked in front of the floor to ceiling TV and I got a sense of the proportion of the thing... ... ... its massive.

Keep em coming.
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Old 23rd Jul 2011, 09:48
  #25 (permalink)  
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M/Y SAMAR 22.07.2011. in front of Hvar

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Old 23rd Jul 2011, 11:43
  #26 (permalink)  
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9A+: Having just posted a review of the MY Samar your photos of this delightful vessel during her current cruise of the Croatian coast couldn't be better timed. Well done!

Coratia has of couse become an increasingly popular sailing/cruising destination over the past two decades and I very much look forward to taking my family there in the near future on what will be our first visit to your country.

500 fan wrote: That EC130 landing in Post #14 seemed a bit overly cautious with a lot of time spent in the avoid curve.
Most of the larger vessels are equipped with helicopter handling dollies enabling the crew (usually pilot) to manoeuvre the craft after it has landed. However, many mid-sized ships (such as Mr Washington's Attessa III upon which the EC130 is landing in the video clip) do not carry such a dolly.

There are a number of considerations to take into account when it comes to the post-landing positioning of an on-board helicopter. These range from the interaction [read distance] of the main rotors to the nearest outcrops of superstructure to the owner's son quipping: "Why wasn't the skid placed on the 'H' when you landed?". Again, on some of the smaller and mid-sized vessels access to certain parts of the airframe can be affected by seemingly small deviations from the 'ideal' landing spot. Pilots aboard such vessels therefore often take their time so as to ensure that they set down in exactly the right place on the ship's helipad.

Re: Tuna boat ops. Yes, many Tuna pilots are quite capable flyers and this would have been a 'fun' job back in the days when the work was largely carried-out by 500's. Now, as you probably know, the Mariner and her four-seat sister have taken over this market.
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Old 24th Jul 2011, 13:13
  #27 (permalink)  

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Some great pictures being posted, keep 'em coming. Have they been on the Rotoreads calendars before? If not they should be

That EC130 landing in Post #14 seemed a bit overly cautious with a lot of time spent in the avoid curve. I think they need to get a few tunaboat pilots involved. Straight in, no messing. They might spill a few sherrys in the back, though!
Surely the 'avoid curve' isn't just the low airspeed & high part, isn't it also the high airspeed & low part ?
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Old 24th Jul 2011, 20:19
  #28 (permalink)  
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The comments about the cautious approach and time spent in the avoid curve were stated purely in jest as a way to introduce the completely different approach made by the pilot in the tunaboat video. It certainely wasn't a criticism of the EC130 pilot. The biggest problem with the EC130 video is the ridiculously small landing pad he is trying to squeeze onto!

500 Fan.
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Old 25th Jul 2011, 06:50
  #29 (permalink)  
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Gibraltar Civil Aviation Authority ban departure from the M.Y. Calixe

The captain and crew of M/Y Calixe had a run in with Gibraltar authorities earlier this month trying to helicopter their guests off the yacht.

It appears that one aviation official gave the yacht clearance to take off, and then another rescinded the permission just as the helicopter was started.

“It’s a perfect example of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing,” said Rusty Allen, captain of Calixe. “The main issue was the man who gave us the initial permission was not authorized to do so. The authorities have apologized for the problems we encountered.”

In an effort to clarify Gibraltar’s position on helicopters taking off from yachts, Chris Purkiss, Director of Civil Aviation in Gibraltar, wrote a letter outlining the rules. He forwarded it to all marina operators and The Triton.

It reads, in part: “The main problem appears to have been caused by poor communication and a lack of guidance as to who is empowered to approve take-offs from areas other than Gibraltar Airport.

“The Civil Aviation (Rules of the Air) Regulations 2009 Section 6 (a) (ii) allow for take-offs from motor yachts such as Calixe and provides exemption from the 500-foot low-flying rule “when landing and taking-off in accordance with normal aviation practice or air-taxiing”.

“Obviously defining normal aviation practice is somewhat subjective, but in general terms if the helicopter is being operated from the motor yacht when in Gibraltar Territorial Waters to transfer personnel from the yacht to an approved landing site, or vice versa, then this is normal practice; in doing so helicopter captains will be expected to operate to their own operations manual, to have adequate separation from other vessels and to liaise with Gibraltar Air Traffic Control to ensure deconfliction from aircraft operating into or out of the airport.

“However, helicopter operations from inside the marinas within Gibraltar are not considered normal aviation and will not be authorized.”

Capt. Allen said the letter’s reference to operations “inside the marinas” was misleading as Calixe was in the basin with clearance all around when the helicopter started. The issue was resolved when an oil spill boom that had been laid out because of a recent oil tank explosion was moved and the yacht went out to the bay and launched the helicopter.

Gibraltar Airport Air Traffic Control can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone 00350 20053383.

Purkiss can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone 00350 20061174 or mobile 00350 56000050.

The MY Calixe with her on-board EC120 N406AE

Gib aviation authorities stop helicopter flight off M/Y Calixe | The Triton

A small addition to the ongoing discussion on the MY Samar:

On-board take of N477KA attached to the MY Samar
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Old 25th Jul 2011, 11:36
  #30 (permalink)  
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There's also the Leight Star, owned by Howard Leight (Jr, I believe) and it's associated A109 with a really classy paint scheme.

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Old 26th Jul 2011, 15:57
  #31 (permalink)  
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great pics! life is tough!!.....
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Old 27th Jul 2011, 07:26
  #32 (permalink)  
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Built in 1982 and refitted in 2008, the MY Leight Star owned by Howard Leight, the ear protection manufacturer and both Leight and his son, Howard Leight Jnr, fly helicopters.

On board photos of the MY Leight Star

Howard Leight Jnr with the family Agusta 109A Mk II N711HL

The Leight's also used to own an R44 N7186Z:

The MY Leight Star with 86Z on the helideck

However, 86Z was not to be as the craft was involved in an incident on 22nd August 2010.
An excerpt from the accident report reads:
On August 22, 2010, about 1819 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R44, N7186Z, made a forced landing in the water at San Diego, California. Point Zero Corporation was operating the helicopter under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot sustained serious injuries. The helicopter sustained substantial damage from impact forces. The local personal flight was departing from a yacht. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.
The pilot reported that the engine lost power at 100 feet above ground level (agl), and he heard a low rotor revolutions per minute (rpm) alarm. He inflated the helicopter’s pontoons prior to water impact. After touchdown, the helicopter rolled onto its side. The pilot extricated himself, and was standing on the wreckage when first responders arrived.

86Z after the indicent
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Old 1st Aug 2011, 10:49
  #33 (permalink)  
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Flying from Superyachts

Steve Forbes' 'Capitalist Tool' JetRanger rests atop the Forbes yacht the M.Y. Highlander

An article from Business Aviation Lifestyle

It’s one of the world’s more exclusive clubs, made up of pilots whose job in the growing world of luxury superyachts is helicopter operations.

No one seems to know exactly how many pilots are actively engaged in this calling, but best estimates put the number at barely 50, based on the fact that no more than 50 superyachts worldwide can support helicopter operations.

Flying helicopters from superyachts has never been a particularly large club, but in recent years it has expanded, as demand by the super-wealthy for super-yachts has grown and yacht owners have come to see an onboard helicopter as a necessity rather than a convenience.

In years gone by, the truly large private yachts of a size capable of supporting a helicopter landing deck–roughly 150 feet minimum from stem to stern– were often converted from cargo or oceanographic survey vessels or, in a few cases, ocean-going tugs. A few had already been equipped for helicopter operations. Others had helicopter decks added as part of the shipyard conversion process.

Today, it is rare to see a superyacht launched that does not have a helicopter deck because more and more buyers are having a helicopter deck incorporated into the original design to enhance the yacht’s value in charter operations and resale.

Almost an Aircraft Carrier

When Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen took delivery of his new, 412-foot-long Octopus (see post #1 of this thread) early last year, it came with a helicopter pad on the bow and a larger helideck aft. If there is any doubt as to the size of this vessel, and the importance its owner places on helicopter operations, consider that it also has a hangar capable of accommodating a Sikorsky S-76. The ship has often been observed with an S-76 on the aft deck and a smaller MD Explorer on the forward landing pad.

According to industry insiders, as many as 200 yachts worldwide are outfitted with helicopter decks. But they agree that despite having an “H” painted somewhere on the deck and claims of being helicopter-capable, only about 50 meet most civil aviation requirements and most of those are yachts not regularly engaged in helicopter operations.

A 200-foot-long yacht has a beam of about 36 feet, barely sufficient to support helicopter operations. “The smallest yacht I know of with a helicopter pad was about 110 feet long, and it was very tight,” said Mark Elliott of International Yacht Collection in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Owners of yachts that do not have a helideck cite a number of reasons for the absence. One is that they are unwilling to give up to helicopter operations a limited amount of sea-going real estate that might be devoted to an additional stateroom or two, or an outdoor bar and Jacuzzi. As for yachts already in service, an afterthought helicopter deck is, almost without exception, said one yacht designer, “an ugly appendage,” no matter how convenient.

Finally, a lot of smaller yachts with narrow beams are not suitable for helicopter operations. “The landing rejection environment usually does not meet the public transport requirements of the civil aviation authorities in most countries,” said Nigel Watson, founder and chairman of Heli Riviera in Cannes, France.

Only a handful of the latest superyachts have both a helicopter deck and built-in hangar. With this in mind, a number of designers are working on a portable hangar that can be easily and quickly erected, broken down and stowed. “Maybe some sort of pressurized dome that would be practical for long ocean passages, and that would look nice,” said Watson.

Protecting the helicopter from the elements–in particular the corrosive effects of salt spray during extended periods at sea–is a major consideration. Fresh-water washdowns and maintenance checks are more frequent for helicopters engaged in yacht operations than those that are primarily shore-based.

In ports where facilities do not permit larger yachts to dock, the vessel’s helicopter allows the user to avoid the time-consuming process of being ferried ashore and then driven to a destination. The helicopter also permits a higher degree of privacy and security, which many high-profile yacht passengers and guests consider critical.

As they do in a shore-based environment, yacht-based helicopters also transport equipment and supplies and provide aerial sightseeing and emergency medical evacuation.

By far most of the helicopters used in yacht operations are owned and operated by the vessel’s owner. But not always. Watson, an English expatriate with both home and business in Cannes, can provide helicopters and/or flight crews for yacht owners, but his service comes primarily in the form of operational support.

Watson, 47, is ideally suited to his calling. He served five years with the Royal Navy, three years with the navy of the Sultan of Oman and 11 years in the luxury yacht industry. He has been a yacht captain and holds commercial helicopter and fixed-wing ratings.

Among Heli Riviera’s current clients is a yacht owner whose assets include a “substantial flight department” that wanted nothing to do with flying a helicopter on and off the yacht and frequently subcontracts with Heli Riviera to provide pilots and training and manage the yacht helicopter operation.

Pilot Training Is On-the-Job

Pilot training for helicopter operations on a yacht is, for the most part, an on-the-job process, “unless you flew for the Navy or Coast Guard,” said Elliott.

Watson recommends at least five hours of training in helicopter operations from a shipboard deck, and his company provides a service that matches new and experienced pilots for this purpose. There are no civil aviation regulations regarding pilot training, but according to Watson, lately insurers have been taking a closer look at yacht operations, and expectations of training and experience are therefore likely to become more structured and more formal.

Contrary to the popular perception, said Elliott, it is actually easier to land on and take off from a yacht that is moving into the wind than one that is at anchor or tied to a pier. Elliott described the process of landing aboard a helideck on a vessel at rest as akin to balancing a spinning plate on the end of a long wooden dowel.

Elliott, 48, knows of what he speaks. He obtained his fixed-wing ticket at the tender age of 16, was a yacht captain by 19 and was flying helicopters by the time he was 21. Now he works for International Yacht and runs his own helicopter charter business with a JetRanger “in New England in the summer and the Caribbean every winter.”

Yacht flying, he said, is as much a lifestyle as a job. A pilot isn’t going to build a lot of hours. Most average less than 200 hours a year, some much less than that. “It’s not necessarily the job for a young guy who wants to build hours,” concluded Elliott.

Watson added that it’s more a bachelor pilot’s existence, “and not a bad one at that. You see the world at someone else’s expense and you get to play with some pretty nice toys. You just have to accept that you’re not going to be flying very much.”

As for older pilots with family responsibilities, “They’re probably going to find it difficult to handle the long separations,” he added.

The annual salary, said Watson, is “a little above that in the average marketplace,” which for a corporate helicopter captain in the U.S. is in the $55,000 to $60,000 range. Watson said for a pilot with an A&P license, salaries start as high as $7,500 a month. It is not unheard of for a pilot who has been with the same employer for some years to enjoy an annual salary in excess of $150,000. But it is rare.

The higher pay suggests that much more than flying may be expected of a pilot engaged in yacht operations. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. A small number of pilots are involved exclusively in flying. “The primo pilots on the big yachts do nothing but fly,” said Elliott. “They don’t even wash ’em.”

A much larger number of pilots have additional duties aboard the yacht, ranging from maintenance to onboard fuel system management. It is not unusual to find pilots assigned duty as officer-of-the-deck during periods that the yacht is moored offshore or tied up at pierside, or on the vessel’s bridge while under way.

The pilot may also be required to supervise training for deck personnel in landing, takeoff and refueling procedures. In cases where there is an onboard refueling system, the pilot’s duties may also include maintenance and training and supervision of the deck crew in fueling operations.

The yacht owner’s pilot is also required to possess certain personal characteristics, not the least of which is tact and charm. “A yacht pilot,” said Watson, “is expected to be a combination of Tom Cruise and Father Christmas–confident but deferential– and personable.”

Meeting International Regulations

According to Watson, designers and builders always make an effort to adopt commercial aviation standards as a basis for helicopter deck design and construction, but having a deck that meets commercial aviation standards is only the start of regulatory considerations.

The pilot of a helicopter engaged in yacht operations must become familiar with the regulations of the civil aviation authorities of dozens of countries. It becomes particularly demanding in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, where a yacht owner may require transport from an airport in one country to a private location in another, as well as to and from the yacht.

It isn’t always convenient for pilots to keep abreast of changing regulations in myriad countries, nor do they have the contacts in various government agencies to facilitate the timely issuance of permits.

In France, for example, permits are required from that country’s naval authorities for the operation of helicopters on and off yachts, whether at anchor or at sea, while within French territorial waters. Further, French authorities require that offshore helicopter landing surfaces meet specific standards. Watson explained that the standards are “specific to each vessel, helicopter type and aircrew, and if there are any changes to any of these, the operator must resubmit the permit application.”

Heli Riviera provides a service to help pilots and yacht owners meet regulations and operational standards worldwide, and as the number of superyachts carrying helicopters continues to grow, Watson expects demand for the service will also grow.

Neither Elliott nor Watson appears to have any regrets about his years as a helicopter pilot operating from moving targets. “I worked on Big Eagle (later Nadine) as both captain and pilot and had extreme freedom as both. The owner, said Elliott, would call and simply say, ‘Take us on an adventure.’” We would be anchored in Villefrance (on the French Riviera), waterskiing one moment flying to the Alps to snow ski the next.

“It is a glamour job, and when it’s right, it’s great!”
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Old 2nd Aug 2011, 11:07
  #34 (permalink)  
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The helicopter-yacht community is a pretty small slice of the rotary-wing industry and accurate information and up-to-date images can be hard to come by, especially in the more 'remote' cruising grounds, typically the Indian and Pacific Oceans but also among many lesser known waters. Anyone with access to such material please do drop a post on the thread and expose us to this intriguing profession!

And .. if you've enjoyed the images here so far then why not check-out Jeremy Parkin's Superyacht Images Collection selections from which, I am sure, will end up on this thread over time.

Oh and Jeremy, if you're reading this, my congrats on a brilliant news website. Bravo!
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Old 4th Aug 2011, 14:15
  #35 (permalink)  
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Yesterday evening in sunset.... EC135 on ?
In front of Hvar
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Old 4th Aug 2011, 15:57
  #36 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
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M.Y. Kingdom 5-KR

A photo of G-REEM as she was before, operated by Clyde Helicopters as G-CHLA and being used by Strathclyde Police.

Mind you, this could be classified as being on the water as the pads jut out into the River Clyde, remember and arm the floats, just incase
Wonder if they know it operated for Strathclyde's finest?

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Old 4th Aug 2011, 16:28
  #37 (permalink)  
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Is the "Bearcat" lock on landing system still used ?
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Old 5th Aug 2011, 00:29
  #38 (permalink)  
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A whole 'nuther world

In the mid '90s I was at the Fort Lauderdale boat show looking for a biggish sailboat. I was working with a broker whose main business was very large yachts. I started hanging around boats in the early '70s and had done work for several large boat owners. I thought I knew a bit about boats - but a short balding guy with south European accent walked up to the broker and told a story that showed me how little I really knew about high end boats.

The gentleman, in his mid-40s, was closely accompanied by two very large and obviously fit men wearing sports jackets with pronounced bulges under each arm. He began to berate, in a friendly but stern voice, the broker. His complaint was that the yacht the broker had sold him earlier in the year had actually cost several million more than anticipated.

The Bell helicopter that came with the yacht was so unreliable that the new owner had to buy a 2nd helo and employ a second crew just to be sure that he would have one helo that could fly when he wanted it.

He also asked if the broker knew how much it cost to fly the 2nd helo from New York to Miami or Nassau or anywhere in the Caribbean? And... why hadn't the broker told him about all those expenses.

They parted on a jovial note but the broker was not as happy and carefree the rest of the afternoon as we looked at my, by now, rather mundane 60' sailboats.
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Old 5th Aug 2011, 08:02
  #39 (permalink)  
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Full-cost disclosure should be standard practice for any true sales professional. In fact I generally quote 'high', usually to take into account the cost escalations which frequently occur during the oft lengthy period between initial enquiry and closure of sale. Nearly all of my final invoices come in under my initial quotes as I prefer my clients to encounter pleasant as opposed to unpleasant surprises but, that's just me.

The price I pay for giving my clients a smile on their face when they receive their final bill is that, at first glance, my services seem slightly more expensive but, when a final cost analysis is made, they often pan out to be below that of my competitors.

The Bell helicopter that came with the yacht was so unreliable that the new owner had to buy a 2nd helo ..
Surprising, as if its one thing the Bell products are known for is reliability. If however the aircraft was a yacht-borne bird then yes, the possibility of more intensive maintenance is there as a result of exposure to corrosion.

It would be great if there are any yacht helicopter pilots out there who could elaborate on the routine involved in minimising the effects of corrosion for yacht-borne aircraft. Daily fresh water washing, yes, but (at least in the 80's) there used to be a variety of corrosion-preventing sprays (one, I think, for the 206 which involved spraying something into the exhaust stack??).
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Old 7th Aug 2011, 15:12
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I would think yacht-borne heli maintenance would be very similar to offshore heli maintenance.

Offshore operators have learned the hard way how to work in salt-air environments. Follow the manufacturer's manuals, of course, but this was the routine for one well-known civil operator:

Start with a bare-metal ship, and wash thoroughly with mil-spec soap. Prime thoroughly. Apply a thin bead of "pro-seal" to every seam and joint...wherever moisture can collect and create dangerous corrosion. Apply a solid, multi-coat paint job.

Apply pressure tape where frequent rubbing or abrasion will cause the paint to be breached (near fuel fill cap, cargo compartments, steps, etc.)

Wash airframe daily. Water wash engine daily. Soap wash engine one a month. Cover stacks and inlets.

Wipe the blades at least once a week with 50/50 mixture of jet fuel and WD-40.

And keep an eye on scratches and dings. They will morph into bubbly white corrosion in no time.

What seems difficult with yacht ops might be the lack of copious fresh water and the "pristine" nature of the helideck. I'd want to wash the ship down daily with good, fresh water. Is that practical on a yacht? On offshore platforms we just drenched the ship, water running all over the helideck into the pad sump drains.

The folks drinking the mint juleps below decks on some of these yachts might not think too kindly of that...

Oh, and I've never heard of spraying anything into the exhaust stack of a C20...would be interested to hear what that was about.
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