Going off grid in kamchatka
Ocean Escape with LA DATCHA
When the SeaXplorer 77 LA DATCHA was delivered in 2020, one thing was certain. Her itinerary was never going to be that of the standard superyacht hotspots. Designed and built to excel in the furthest corners of the world, including in ice conditions, and fully equipped for world-class heliskiing with two helicopters, a certified helideck and below-deck hangar, ski room, snowmobiles and avalanche safety equipment, remote polar destinations were clearly on the horizon. Captain Alistair Reid shares his experience of being the only luxury expedition charter yacht to go to Kamchatka.
“In yachting, Kamchatka is unchartered waters. You are literally going into the wilderness to explore the unknown. Nothing could be more invigorating.”
Captain Alistair Reid
INTO THE WILD
Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk, Kamchatka is a 780-mile-long peninsula located in the Russian Far East. Getting there takes time and effort – it is only accessible by air or sea – and once you are there, the best way to get around is by helicopter. And it’s not just the infrastructure that adds to the remote adventure feel. Kamchatka is a place where wild really is wild. This extensive UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to large brown bears, sea otters, sea eagles, the largest variety of salmonid species on earth as well as orcas, humpback whales and seabird colonies.
“It is very rare these days to be part of something as unique and
enthralling as being the first to explore and discover new unseen and
untouched places. For our charter guests, and the crew,
the opportunity to be in Kamchatka and the experiences
it offers are once in a lifetime.’’
Fire and Ice
Scenic drama is a given in Kamchatka. With the highest concentration of active volcanoes in the world, as well as freezing winters, you can expect hot springs, snow-capped peaks, rushing rivers and ice-cold waters. The perfect balance of nature’s fire and ice offering plenty of action for intrepid adventurers.
“From volcanoes, hot springs and hiking through lava fields to heli-skiing, sea and river fishing, cold water diving or swimming, whale watching, visiting out of reach bird and seal colonies, and exploring untrodden areas, Kamchatka is all about the real feeling of adventure. To be able to enjoy all of that remoteness and primal beauty from the luxury of a yacht – what’s not unique about that!”
With a high density of volcanoes and low density of inhabitants, Kamchatka’s landscape is certainly rugged and best viewed from the air. Step in a helicopter and you’ll get to see the Northern Hemisphere’s largest active volcano Klyuchevskaya Sopka which measures 15,584 feet high or the Valley of Geysers – the world’s second largest collection of rare vents in the Earth’s surface that periodically eject a column of hot water and steam. But that’s not to say some of the challenging terrain can’t be enjoyed from the ground. The biggest question is, how do you prepare for a trip and charter in such an environment where support and facilities are not readily available?
“Taking a yacht into such unchartered waters and planning activities in such a remote destination or on extreme rugged terrain is all about planning and preparation. Every minute detail has to be scrutinised from the cold weather equipment carried, the types of tenders used for excursions, the necessity of 2 helicopters and of course where we can source all the products you would expect to see on a yacht cruising along the Côte d’Azur. Having a fabulous agent has been instrumental. Being the first yacht to run a charter in Kamchatka means it remains a learning curve, but from a guest perspective it has been fantastic, with many repeat bookings in discussion already.”
We are proud to announce that LA DATCHA has recently been awarded the Judges’ Commendation in the 2021 Boat International Design & Innovation Awards. This award recognises her outstanding and innovative exterior design which was the work of Azure Yacht Design.
LA DATCHA has also been nominated for the 2021 World Superyacht Awards (Category Displacement Motor Yachts 1,600GT TO 2,999GT). The winner will be announced during the Award Gala & Ceremony on September 5th 2021.
SALMON AND BEARS
“The Salmon are just about to start running here now and the sea fishing is exquisite. Our guests have been dining on an abundance of their fresh, daily catch of halibut, cod, king crab and I am excited to see the first of the no doubt many Salmon.”
Captain Alistair Reid
Experienced Captain Alistair Reid has been at the helm of a number of superyachts ranging from 60-134 metres following a natural career change from the British Merchant Navy. As part of the LA DATCHA build team, he has played an integral role in the operational preparation and execution of LA DATCHA’s extensive luxury exploration capabilities.
Wildlife in adundance
Thanks to Kamchatka’s unspoilt and diverse ecosystems, wildlife is in abundance. The Kamchatka brown bears are renowned for their exceptionally large build and, with the waters containing some of the largest stock of salmon in Asia, their food source is plentiful. Volcanic crater lakes host vast stocks of fish and once a year, the Kamchatka river turns deep crimson from the millions of spawning salmon – an event Captain Alistair and guests of LA DATCHA were keen to experience.
If there is one activity that Kamchatka offers which aligns perfectly with LA DATCHA, then it is heli-skiing. In fact, her design was customised to specifically meet the Owner’s heli-skiing requirements. She features a fully certified helideck and standby deck (together totalling 325 metres) for dual helicopter operations, the 10 cubic metre fuel tank (approx. 22,000 pounds of jet fuel which equates to approx. 40 hours flight time/5,000 nautical miles range total) takes care of the refuelling requirements and there is double hangar with lift system. And two helicopters were a must-have for safety reasons when out of range of rescue services – something which is particularly relevant in Kamchatka when landing in the wild, for example on a volcano or for heli-skiing and heli-safaris.
“The smiles and high fives from our guests returning from the mountains say it all. The realisation that all levels of skiing can be accommodated and it is not just about extremity, it’s the experience. Skiing down the side of a volcano to the sea is not something guests will forget in a hurry. It’s also knowledge that no one else has skied the majority of the places we go to due the sheer inaccessibility of these areas. These are experiences that only LA DATCHA can offer.”
Cold Water Invigoration
The waters may be ice-ridden but that doesn’t stop the watersports and guest enjoyment of the more standard yachting activities such as wakeboarding and swimming. It is simply a question of embracing the environment.
“There is no doubt that the weather is the main driving force in Kamchatka. You need to adjust the itineraries to suit. Our adventurous guests have seen 5-metre seas with 70 knots of wind to breathless blue skies and crystal-clear days. Every charter has been different, you really can have 4 seasons in one day here. What has surprised me the most though is the guests’ appetite to embrace this and their love of the ‘cold water’ experience. Watersports and swimming have been commonplace. The invigoration of this followed by a shot of vodka and caviar covered canapes seems to be exactly what the doctor ordered for our visiting clients.”