what is the next frontier for the explorer community?
Highlights from the Explorer Yachts Summit 2021
Thank you to everyone who took part in the Explorer Yachts Summit 2021. As headline sponsor, the Damen Yachting team was delighted to support Boat International, who captured the explorer yachting community’s enthusiasm and excitement. Now numbering more than 100 yachts, the large explorer fleet (above 500 Gross Tonnage) is set to grow quickly over the next few years. However, as the summit highlighted, an explorer is not a yacht design, it’s a mindset.
The summit took place in the Yacht Club de Monaco, the same location where Damen Yachting’s Director Sales and Product Management Rob Luijendijk introduced the SeaXplorer luxury expedition yacht range in 2015. He was back this year as a speaker.
“ It’s interesting that the Explorer Yachts Summit is held here in the Monaco Yacht Club. We are here in the very heart of the luxury yachting tradition and we are talking about far-flung destinations like Vanuatu and Greenland. But maybe that’s part of the adventurer mindset. This summit offers the ideal format to return and share your experiences with the explorer community. ”
Rob Luijendijk, Damen Yachting Director Sales and Product Management
The Owner of ALMYRA II gave a passionate presentation about the sense of urgency to reduce the impact of the yachting on the environment. The solution lies in new innovations and real reduction of emissions, he said. We have to adopt alternative propulsion and measure the environmental impact of superyachts. The Sea Index, an initiative of the Yacht Club de Monaco and Credit Suisse is tackling that challenging task right now – an initiative that Damen Yachting is proud to be a partner in.
Damen Yachting is developing alternative systems on board our yachts. Our first SeaXplorer, ANAWA, was delivered in 2020 with an economical and environmentally friendly configuration. The electrical propulsion motors are powered by a Siemens BlueDrive system with variable speed generator sets supported with a peak shaving battery pack. Inspired by ANAWA, all our new SeaXplorers are fitted with a hydrid power and electric propulsion system supported by battery pack. The yachts also have comprehensive waste water treatment and garbage management solutions. However, there remains much to do, for example in making reliable use of alternative fuels.
Ocean Research Wet Lab
Explorer yachts are at the forefront of superyacht sustainability, not just because they are the yachts entering the most pristine areas under threat, but also because explorer yachts can make a change. Ashley Perrin, Antarctic Ice Pilot, Captain Malcolm Jacotine, EYOS Expeditions co-founder Rob McCallum and Rose O’Donnell of Yacht for Science, all highlighted the influential role that explorer Owners and charter guests have on ocean health and science. As well as catalysts for changing opinion, Owners can support scientists on board, teach their children and become ‘digital philanthropists’.
As demonstrated by Dr Mattias Jonas, Secretary of the International Hydrographic Organization, crowd-sourced bathymetry can hugely develop our understanding of the seabed, with ocean-going explorer yachts playing a leading role using forward-looking sonar. Much of the seabed remains unexplored, and whole coastlines are poorly charted – sometimes relying on measurements taken centuries ago.
There are many options for on board science – from traditional yachts to serious research vessels like the OceanXplorer, a Damen conversion project pictured above.
On the SeaXplorer 60, we created a custom ocean conservation Wet Lab (pictured) in the multipurpose 40 square-metre Lower Deck store. The Owner can make it their mission to research marine biology samples or contribute to seawater microalgae and plankton sampling. With a scientist on board, or their own team, they can change the way the world understands our oceans.
Free spirits with limited time
Explorer charters are also often associated with complex logistics and ‘scripted’ itineraries. As an Owner, rather than a charterer, you get to see a lot more, noted Captain John Crupi of DOROTHEA III. He shared some amazing stories of the yacht’s spontaneous adventures, a free spirit globetrotter without an agenda – from anchoring next to a volcano to jumping into the water with humpback whales. Top of his list is the South Pacific, and Vanuatu in particular.
While lengthy journeys might be fantastic and less at the mercy of weather and conditions, not everyone has months to spend away from their businesses and responsibilities, EYOS Expeditions co-founder Tim Soper noted. Distilling those experiences into a week-long charter can still offer magic moments, particularly with unpredictable wildlife. But these real expedition destinations in the high latitudes or places like Papua New Guinea, are not without their challenges. What is changing, thanks to new generation explorer yachts, is how these places are experienced.
“You can reach these places with a lot of yachts. But what you can do when you get there depends on your yacht.”
Tim Soper, EYOS Founding Partner
Security, safety and autonomy
Helicopter safety is an obvious area of concern for operations in remote destinations without infrastructure. Owners and charter clients are also understandably concerned about the wellbeing of their families and guests. When that is combined with adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports, then having a well-trained paramedic on board seems more of a necessity than a luxury. All SeaXplorers are delivered with a hospital and systems for remote diagnostics and quarantine (such as separate air-conditioning exhaust). The yachts also carry a decompression chamber for extra dive safety.
SeaXplorer Design Manager Enrique Tintore spoke about kitting out explorer yachts for expeditions. “I believe that what really makes a difference is the volume, the Gross Tonnage of an expedition yacht versus a more traditional white yacht. But it’s not only about space, it’s also about the capacity of the cranes in order to be able to launch and recover all the tenders and toys in a safe way.”
The SeaXplorer 105, at the top of the range, offers a huge Gross Tonnage of 6,500. It carries two helicopters, a 13-metre chase boat, a 12-metre sports tender, a 12-metre limousine tender, two 8.5-metre luxury tenders, Jetskis, snowmobiles, motorcycles, bikes, kayaks, a submersible and full-beam dive centre.