Bobcat telehandler is ‘quay’ to French marina operation

A new Bobcat T35.105 telehandler is proving its worth at a French marina – the largest of its kind in Europe.

The machine is working on the quays and pontoons of the 70-hectare La Rochelle leisure marina. On a daily basis, at least one of the port management company’s eight drivers will get behind the controls of the Bobcat, which is described as being an “important tool” in the management of the 5,000 plus leisure boats moored all year round in the eight docks.

Jean-Luc Dupeux, deputy director of the harbourmaster’s technical office and chief driver of the Bobcat telehandler, said the 54 staff in his team carry out around 8,000 handling operations every year.

Operations range from maintenance and cleaning of the quays, including numerous repairs to the mooring pontoons and other structural work to dry-docking sailing boats, catamarans and yachts arriving daily for repair and then launching them back into the water.

With a lift height of 10m on tyres, the Bobcat T35.105 is described as being able to handle all maintenance work at height using a man platform, or on the ground using a broom. Building materials can be fitted by means of a winch on the telehandler and trucks can be loaded by extending the boom.

The main use for the telehandler at the marina is for the transportation of some 2,500 finger piers. These short, narrow piers measure between 4 and 15m in length and can weigh up to 2 tonnes. The piers need to be maintained regularly, with the T35.105 lifting them and transporting them from the pontoons to the workshops.

To meet the special requirements of operation at the La Rochelle leisure marina, Top Sud, a Doosan and Bobcat dealership along the French Atlantic coast, has implemented several enhancements to the T35.105.

To ensure the paint adheres in the saline environment, the machine has been metalised. All the main metal parts, such as the frame and arm, have been given a special surface treatment, increasing their resistance to corrosion.

Jean-Luc said, “Our machines are exposed to sea spray throughout the year. This can rapidly eat away at the bodywork and metal parts despite daily maintenance.”

The machine has been placed on wider 24-inch tyres and the drive train has been made more flexible for working by water, on slopes and on pontoons. It has also been fitted with an additional hydraulic motor to release locks blocked by mud or it can be used to raise a metal bridge if its internal mechanism is jammed.

Every year, the La Rochelle leisure marina hosts more than 100 water sports events, including Grand Pavois, one of the largest in-water boat shows in France. During the latest Grand Pavois event, the Bobcat T35.105 was used by the maintenance teams in restructuring a whole section of the marina.

“The telehandler allowed us to fully remodel seven pontoons of more than 100m in length in an efficient manner, so we were ready in good time to host the 300 boats put to water specially for Grand Pavois,” said Jean-Luc Dupeux.

Lovis Mehboob, executive vice president of the Top Sud dealership commented, “Bobcat telehandlers have great potential for growth along the Atlantic coast. The fact that all the machines are made in France is a real plus, offering proximity and responsiveness in terms of orders.

“Their robustness, together with their technical quality and the manufacturer’s 3-year warranty, give us a competitive edge in our markets. We have been dealers for Doosan and Bobcat for more than 35 years, since 1983, which surely makes us the longest-standing dealership in France.”