Super Team

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Island Enterprises, Inc. and Island Navigation, Co., Inc., have been two of the major sponsors of the Congressional Cup, since 2003. The most recent Congressional cup celebrated in April 2006 also had the sponsorship of the Catalina Island Shoreboats. The shoreboats provide transportation from the Long Beach Yacht Club to the spectator boats and back. All Shoreboats in use during the race are operated by trained and certified Captains and deckhands. Island Enterprises, Inc. and Island Navigation Co., Inc., take pride in promoting and supporting youth sailing.

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The cruise ship, Ecstacy, serves as the backdrop for several John Deere-powered water taxis owned and operated by Island Navigation Company. The water taxis transport cruise ship visitors to and from Catalina Island.

Cruising Catalina

Tourists of this California island resort get a good first impression aboard these boats

Aaah, Catalina Island. Where the mountains meet the sea. A place that inspired former resident and late author Zane Grey and attracted numerous Hollywood stars and movie producers. A popular song was even written about it entitled "26 Miles Across the Sea." You know the tune:: "Santa Catalina is the place to be ... Santa Catalina ... the Island of Romance..."

Taking that 26-mile journey from Los Angeles to Catalina is sort of a romantic journey in itself. You can ride a helicopter, but then you ca also savor the beauty of Catalina's pristine waters by a John Deere-powered water taxi. If you do, let Island Navigation Company be your guide.

Jeff Stickler owns and operates the company, which consists of a 10-vessel fleet of water taxis. This fleet provides island transportation fro visitors aboard yachts, navy ships, and luxury cruise ships temporarily mooring in the island's Avalon harbor.

What attracts so many visitors each year to Catalina Island is not just the charming beachfront hotels, shops, or the majestic Casino building. What really draws in the visitors is the island's natural beauty - both inland as well as the surrounding marine habitat. The underwater world consists of naturally clean and clear waters, abundant marine life, and giant kelp forests, all preserved and protected.

Because the marine environment draws so many visitors, Stickler started a second company, Catalina Glass Bottom Boat, Inc. to give passengers a chance to view the spectacular array of colorful fish, undersea gardens, coastal reefs, as well as harbor seals and sea lions.

Stickler's underwater viewing vessels include a glass-bottom boat, the Sea View, and a semi-submersible submarine called the Nautilus. This yellow submarine features twin 120-hp PowerTech 4045T engines for propulsion. Also aboard is a 50kW gen-set with a PowerTech 6068T for powering the bow thruster, torpedo fish feeders, and 18,000 watts of lights for night-time viewing of Catalina's nocturnal creatures, such as Moray eels and sharks. Plans are to equip the Sea View with John Deere marine engines this year.

Because much of the island's surrounding waters are designated as a marine preserve or as an underwater park, Stickler recently began upgrading his underwater-viewing vessels and water taxis with John Deere engines to ensure that the boats pose no threat to the pristine marine environment.

"We consider ourselves a 'green company,' explains Stickler. "Because we are in the eco-tourism business and operate our vessels in an area of pristine water and marine preserves, we are sensitive to oil pollution and emissions."

Stickler works closely with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to ensure that his vessels comply with the state's stringent emission standards. The John Deere engines are 80 percent cleaner burning than the two cycle engines being replaced, so Stickler is eligible to participate in a CARB program designed to offset the purchase price of the new engines. In essence, CARB offers boat owners an incentive to purchase low-emission engines by crediting them for each ton of nitrogen oxide less emitted into the air.

Also impressing Stickler and others is that John Deere marine engines meet requirements of the International Marine Organization (IMO). He says the engines' IMO rating is a big environmental plus and something that he touts to his passengers.

Not only do John Deere engines produce less exhaust emissions, but also less noise emissions. Sound levels were dramatically reduced after switching to John Deere power. "We metered the decibels of both the new and old engines," says Stickler. "Now we know that we're experiencing a 40 percent noise reduction at engine speeds of 600 rpm and higher."

Fuel consumption dropped, too. Stickler says that overall his fleet of John Deere-powered vessels consume 30 percent less fuel than before.

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The Nautilus semi-submersible submarine provides tourists
with an underwater view of sea life in Avalon Harbor

All that, with more power and speed. The company's smaller water taxis, used for harbor transportation, are powered by the 150-hp 4045T engine. Turning a 3-blade prop through Twin Disc MG 5050 marine gear with a 2:1 gear ratio, the vessels run a top speed of 12.5 knots - 4 knots faster than before. The larger vessels, used for cruise ship tendering, gain.

"Our operators are impressed with the engines' response time," says Stickler. "These vessels are noticeably easier to handle. They require less throttle to do what you want."

This added performance is attributed, in part, to the exceptional horsepower performance throughout the entire rpm range of the engine. "There's just a lot more power at the start of the horsepower curve... and all of the way to the top," says Stickler. "It's not just a gradual increase in power."

Stickler also believes that a well-designed engines will also last longer and be more durable. That's important to Stickler, who admits to not babying his engines.

"In fact in this business, we abuse our engines," he adds. "We are a commercial operation, and we will put 3,000 hours on each engine per year. We make landings in the harbor every 5 to 10 minutes. We stop and go and have a lot of idle time. We heat the engines up and cool them off."

Access to quality engine service and parts is also a must - especially for an island-based commercial business. And for the past 20 years, Stickler has relied on quality sales, service, and support from General Engine Power Inc. Over the past few years, the John Deere marine dealer encouraged Stickler to try John Deere marine power and even invited him to several trade shows to meet one-on-one with John Deere engineers.

General Engine continues to work closely with Stickler today, only Stickler is now a tired-and-true believer of John Deere marine power. The John Deere marine dealer packages the marine engines to Stickler unique specifications from adding extra filters to fitting the engines with oversized alternators and marine transmissions.

By late fall, Stickler's entire fleet of water taxis and touring vessels will be repowered with John Deer marine engines. Also repowered will be the company's tug boat, the Sea Mule. It will be propelled by twin 300-hp PowerTech 6081A engines and will get its gen-set power from a PowerTech 4045T. The 50-kW gen-set will give the Sea Mule a 10, 000-pound lifting capability to perform mooring maintenance.

Stickler designs and builds his own vessels, as well as for clients. plans are to construct two 65-foot ocean-viewing catamarans, fitting each with twin PowerTech 12.5L engines for propulsion and twin 4.5L engines for gen-set and bow thruster power. Also to be John Deer powered will be five additional catamarans and three submarines, slated for eventual sale and used in the Caribbean.

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Propelling the Nautilus are twin John Deere PowerTech 4045TFM engines turning 21x20, 3-blade props at a 2:1 gear ratio. The vessel is also equipped with a PowerTech 6068TFM engine that powers a 50-kW gen-set and a 90-hp bow thruster. The gen-set supplies electricity to the torpedo fish feeders and 18,000 watts of lights for night time viewing of nocturnal fish

"I've been extremely happy with these new engines," Stickler says. "Going from a two-cycle engine to the four-cycle John Deere engine is like going from a 1960s technology to the latest advancements that modern technology has to offer. We're reducing emissions, noise, and fuel consumption, and gaining more performance. It makes a huge difference in our business."

Engines: John Deere PowerTech 6125AFM - a 400-hp @ 2,100 rpm, 6-cylinder, 12.5L, air-to-air aftercooled marine diesel; John Deere PowerTech 6081AFM - a 300-hp @ 2,200 rpm, 6-cylinder, 8.1L, turbocharged diesel; PowerTech 4045TFM - a 120-hp @ 2,400 rpm propulsion rating and 95-hp @ 1,800 rpm gen-set rating, 4-cylinder, 4.5L, turbocharged diesel.

Marine Dealer: General Engine Power, Inc., Long Beach, Calif., (562) 436-9084.

Distributor: Western Engine Distributors, Huntington Beach, Calif. (714) 841-9200
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