Atmosphere is an explorer yacht that comes complete with an aero maritime transportation system
As the number of large yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean swells and the appeal of another summer spent cheek-by-jowl in a busy marina diminishes, thoughts turn to ‘getting away from it all’ – the further flung and more exotic the better. An explorer yacht is one of the most compelling ways of doing this, and it is hardly surprising that they are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment as the savvy few plot their escapes from the madding crowds to places such as Greenland, Alaska, the Amazon, Patagonia and the South Pacific.
While some are prepared to undertake extensive refits of commercial ice-classed vessels or build their explorers from scratch, those with a yen to just get up and go might do well to take a look at this line-up of adventurous ladies:
Most explorer yachts are not desirable for their looks, but there are exceptions, and this sixties classic is one of them. Originally built in 1960 as a North Sea fishing cutter, the 25.42m steel-hulled Zeewoelf had her first career change in the 1980s when she became an oil rig guard vessel, eventually ending up in St Vincent in the 1990s. Her big break came in 2002 when she was completely refitted and modernised as a luxury explorer yacht. She comes complete with teak finishing and exceptional amenities – including a rear deck for your 4×4, should you wish to make inland excursions. Zeewoelf has a steady 8 knot cruising speed, which gives her a respectable 4,000 nautical mile range, and speeds up to 10 knots when required.
Bleu de Nîmes
Many explorer yachts are conversions of commercial or even naval vessels which have the strength and long-distance capabilities that superyachts may lack. Bleu de Nîmes is one such vessel, originally built for the British Royal Navy as a degaussing ship – one which has an inbuilt system to neutralise the vessel’s magnetic signature, making it invisible to magnetic mines. However, she was never commissioned, and when her present owner bought her some years later, she was put through a major rebuilding project to convert her into a luxury yacht. Now a no-nonsense long-distance cruising vessel, her 12,000 nautical mile range can take you anywhere in the world in total security.
For owners looking for a workhorse of an explorer yacht, the appeal of an ice-classed yacht like Ulysses is its anonymity and capaciousness. There is no need for a support vessel when your yacht can carry all the toys, tenders and vehicles you might require, and you can enjoy all the interior luxury of a superyacht within an commercial-looking exterior that won’t attract any unwanted attention. Ulysses is a 59.74 metre Trinity built in 2006 which has a rugged steel hull and aluminium superstructure and, powered by twin Caterpillar engines, can be self-sufficient for long periods. At a cruising speed of 12.5 knots, her range is 6,000 nautical miles and she is fully equipped to take her 16 guests well off the beaten track with a vast array of equipment, including RIB tenders, a five person Perry submarine, two waverunners, a dive compressor and helipad.
Northern Star is a fine example of that class of superyachts that were specifically built to be expedition yachts. An exceptional range of 7,000 nautical miles coupled with very generous storage of all consumables means that she can make long cruises to distant parts of the world, including high latitudes as she is classed for operation in light sea ice. All her engineering and equipment is robust with plenty of redundancy, and special equipment includes dynamic positioning – useful in ice or over coral reefs when anchoring is not an option – and forward-looking sonar. She is also helicopter capable with a touch-and-go helipad, and has three tenders including an 8.8 metre Hinckley launch and a 10 metre Zodiac Hurricane RIB. In true superyacht style her interior is the epitome of comfort and luxury – right down to the real log fireplaces that will make for cosy gatherings during icy Arctic itineraries.
Although naval vessels seem ideal candidates for conversion into expedition yachts, in reality most warships are unsuitable – built for speed they are narrow with expensive, powerful engines, and are divided into numerous compartments for damage control reasons. However, the 1968-built Titan – formerly HMS Beagle – was a beamy hydrographic survey ship with large internal volume for its 60 metres with all the strength (built of Corten steel for long life and low corrosion) seaworthiness and self-sufficiency for a ship designed to work away from base for months at a time. Unusually for a Royal Navy ship she was classed 100A1 by Lloyd’s and reclassed 100A1 Maltese Cross LMC as a passenger ship when she was converted into a yacht in 2005, meaning she can carry 22 guests. Most recently refitted in 2008 she is a luxurious and capacious superyacht under her tough exterior.
Of all the types of boat that might be converted to a yacht, a tug seems the least likely candidate, but the 44.Ariete Primo is an example that puts paid to any doubts. This 1967 Richard Dunston tug boat that was originally intended to work in the exposed waters off the South African coast was transformed into a characterful yacht with an interior of embracing luxury. A serious sea-going vessel designed to operate in all weathers and all sea conditions she is a safe place to be in unpredictable environments. Although her history and character have been carefully preserved and her powerful Ruston 9-cylinder engine and propulsion system is original, all other machinery and equipment has been updated and she has a navigation and communications suite that can take her anywhere in the world.
For serious adventurers, expedition yachts are a given, but they also need to carry the means of getting to sometimes inhospitable shores and exploring difficult terrain. A yacht such as Atmosphere leads the pack when it comes to providing a complete aero maritime transportation system. She carries not one, but two Bell 407 helicopters, a Zodiac Hurricane 920 RIB, two custom 23 Jet tenders, 10 kayaks, 10 inflatable kayaks and 36 fishing skiffs. Built in Chile in 2006, she was specially designed as a platform to explore virgin Patagonia by land, sea and water, and from her decks guests set out to fly-fish, heliski, trek, kayak and raft in landscapes that range from glaciers and fjords to cold jungles and volcanoes. What more could you ask of an explorer yacht?
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