Bobcat Telehandler at Europe’s Largest Leisure Marina


A new Bobcat T35.105 telehandler is playing an important role working on the quays and pontoons of the La Rochelle leisure marina in France, the largest of its type in Europe. On a daily basis, irrespective of the weather, at least one of the eight drivers at the port management company will take the controls of the telehandler. The T35.105 is an important tool in managing the 5000 plus leisure boats moored all year round in the eight docks and the total surface area of 70 hectares of the La Rochelle marina.

 A major tourist attraction, the La Rochelle marina is also a technical hub based on a local network of manufacturers and service providers in the water sports sector. Almost 2000 specialists from a total of 230 companies are based there.


According toJean-Luc Dupeux, deputy director of the harbourmaster’s technical officeand chief driver of the Bobcat telehandler, the 54 staff in his teams carry out around 8000 handling operations every year. These 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 in the water.

Ideal technical specifications for transporting finger piers through the maze of pontoons

Compact and mobile, with a lift height of 10 m on tyres, the Bobcat T35.105 can handle all maintenance work at height using a man platform, or on the ground using a broom. Building materials can be lifted by means of a winch on the telehandler and trucks can be loaded by extending the boom.

But the main use for the telehandler at the marina is to transport some 2500 finger piers – short, narrow piers projecting from docks for people to walk on – which measure 4, 6, 8 or even 15 m in length and can weigh up to 2 tonne.

The finger piers need to be maintained, repaired and replaced on a regular basis. The compact design, manoeuvrability and stability of the T35.105 are key to 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 long-established Doosan and Bobcat dealership along the French Atlantic coast, has implemented several enhancements to the T35.105.

To ensure the paint adheres perfectly in the saline environment, the machine has been metalized. 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 Dupeux, who is also a mechanical engineer specializing in hydraulics, says that the anti-corrosion treatment works perfectly. He believes it is the best solution, applied ex-factory, which is not the case with other machines in the marina: “Our machines are exposed to sea spray throughout the year. This can rapidly eat away at the bodywork and metal parts despite daily maintenance.”

In addition, to optimize the telehandler for working by the water, on slopes or on pontoons where the room to manoeuvre is limited, it has been placed on wider, 24-inch tyres and the drive train has been made more flexible, enhancing manoeuvrability – a real plus according to the various drivers at La Rochelle.

A telehandler that can restructure pontoons and handle major events

Every year, the La Rochelle leisure marina hosts more than 100 water sports events, including Grand Pavois, one of the largest in-water boat showsin France, second only to the Nautic de Parisevent.During the latest Grand Pavoisevent, which took place in late September, the Bobcat T35.105 proved particularly useful for the maintenance teams in restructuring a whole section of the marina. “The telehandler allowed us to fully remodel seven pontoons of more than 100 m 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.

Bobcat T35.105 part of emergency operations at La Rochelle

The telehandler is also an integral part of the marina’s emergency operations in the event that the locks become blocked or the metal lift bridge, located at the entrance to one of the docks, jams.

Fitted with an additional hydraulic motor, the telehandler provides the necessary breakout force to release locks blocked by mud, for example, or it can be used to raise the metal bridge if its internal mechanism is jammed.

Lovis Mehboob, Executive Vice President of the Top Sud dealership, comments: “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.”