Tooled up: Inside the Allen Exploration fleet

50m Westport Gigi

Whether you’re seeking sunken treasure or insights into ocean pollution, it helps not to restrict yourself to the water’s surface. Superyacht owner and CEO of the Allen exploration fleet, Carl Allen, talks us through his fleet of yachts and the tools that take him to both the murky depths and the skies above...

50 metre Westport Gigi

“I love the big white boats, and the Westport is just a tremendous white boat. It was built in the US. It’s got six rooms, it’s glamorous, the cuisine, the service, you get all that with Gigi and it only draws 2.6 metres, which enables me to get into some really neat places in the Bahamas, like Staniel Cay and Harbour Island. You’re not going to the Bahamas with anything bigger than Gigi,” Allen says. Gigi was built in 2010 with an interior designed by Glade Johnson.

55m Damen Yacht Support

Image courtesy of Jim Raycroft

Allen spotted the Damen support vessel, ex New Frontiers, at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in 2016. “Just touring it, I knew I had to do the deal.” Renamed Axis, the yacht support platform was fitted with a garage to house a Triton sub, an Icon A5 aeroplane, a complete dive shop – soon to include a decompression chamber – plus top-notch crew quarters and guest cabins. Fitted with top-of-the-range electronics, it has a paperless bridge and dynamic positioning. “The DP is not the quietest thing in the world, but it is amazing.”

The support vessel holds 60,000 gallons of fuel, so it can supply the whole fleet, and its watermaker produces 20,000 gallons of fresh water daily. “We can actually supply islands with water. We get a lot of sail boaters that come up to us [for water], and I’m always happy to oblige.”

Viking 52 Open Express

Gigi has a nifty 11.9 metre SeaVee centre console, with triple Mercury Verados, that is rigged for fishing, a custom RIB for diving and sub operations, and Axis carries flat boats. But Carl, an avid fisherman, likes the Viking 52 Open Express. Based on the Viking 52 Convertible hull, it’s American made, sturdy and fast, and keeps the captain close to the action on its 13.2m2 cockpit with mezzanine. “That’s where I really do my fishing,” Allen says. It’s called Frigate. “Frigate birds go looking for blue marlin and that’s what we do.” It’s available for charter separately, but it also goes with the fleet.

“My stepdad was always into convertible fishing boats, and whenI got my wife on the water, it was one of these things where I could have my fish and eat it too.”

Triton 3300/3 MKII submarine

Allen loves that it is American made and will allow him to ditch the scuba gear. “We just took delivery of it. I’m super excited about it. It goes down to 3,300ft with three people. It fits perfectly in the garage on Axis, and it’s the first Triton of this size built with lithium ion phosphate batteries.” The advantages are that they don’t generate hydrogen, they charge more quickly and require less maintenance.

“About 90 per cent of the Caribbean has not been seen with human eyes below 150ft, and I plan on changing that but I’m a 3,000ft-and above guy. I believe that’s where everything is.

“People tell me once I try it, I will never scuba dive again. With scuba, there’s so much equipment. This thing, you just jump in there and you can listen to music. You can eat, you can drink and you can stay down. That submarine will stay down for 96 hours in an emergency. And the neat thing is, because it’s pressurised, you don’t have to worry about decompression.”

Icon A5

The seaplane is one of the first toys Allen looked for. “My family is a family of aviators. We have a Citation X+. We’ve got a Cirrus SR22, and we have an Icon. I wanted to build the Icon so that we could house it on Axis, which makes it a small aircraft carrier.” The lightweight plane has foldable wings. It’s been rejigged with lifting gear for the support vessel’s crane.

“I wanted to use it not only as a pleasure craft, but also as part of our scouting team when it comes to fishing. It’s great to go looking for schooling tunas, marlin basking on top of the water, schools of dolphin, or weed lines, but also for treasure hunting.

“You can get so low to the water that you can see anomalies, stuff that shouldn’t be there. You hit it on a waypoint on the GPS and then come back and investigate it. So it’s very functional as well.” Allen prefers to leave the flying to professional pilots. “It’s not a jet ski with wings. It’s not a flying car. It’s an aeroplane and needs to be treated as such.”

The whole fleet is available to charter with Ocean Independence.

Read more

Sponsored listings