You're a daring adventurer who wants to explore the world’s oceans for months at a time, braving the elements and reveling in the thrill of discovery. But you’re also a person who, after reaching a certain level of success in your life, knows how to live well, just like Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark. After a particularly scintillating day on the water, you enjoy sharing the experience with your friends over a fine meal and a bottle of 1995 Chateau Valandraud Saint-Emilion.
That’s why you explore on a state-of-the-art expedition yacht. Whether you want to get up close and personal with great white sharks off the Great Barrier Reef or take a firsthand look at what the king crab fishing crews really go through on the TV hit “Deadliest Catch” near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, an expedition yacht— sometimes known as an explorer yacht—is the best vessel for the job. These boats are designed for long-range cruising with the accommodations and facilities you need to spend months at a time on the water. Each year, designers and yards push the limits ever further in terms of range, size, and performance. We’ve compiled a list of five of the newest boats that are either under construction or being retrofitted for extreme cruising. Some are being built by well-known yards, such as Delta Yachts, while others are new names on the scene. Read on to see the 2010 expedition boats that are pushing the limits of endurance and speed—and doing so in luxurious style.
Aquos Yachts is a fairly new force, a collaborative organization of some well-known names in the design and construction segments of the industry. The company’s chairman is a Hong Kong-based businessman originally from the United Kingdom, and Project Manager David Darwent has directed the builds of the some of the most special boats in the world. The designers are Greg C. Marshall Naval Architects of Victoria, British Columbia, and construction is taking place in New Zealand at McMullen & Wing. Needless to say, Darwent has piled up some serious frequent flyer miles.
Aquos Yachts is actually developing two boats almost simultaneously, the 45-meter Big Fish and the 50-meter Star Fish, both of which are known for innovative firsts in terms of construction elements and ecological awareness. Among the firsts on the striking new boats is granite decking, which is indestructible, maintenance-free, and ecologically responsible. Because the granite requires no maintenance and the boat’s color was designed to look good—according to Aquos—even when covered in salt from spray, fewer crewmembers are required to maintain its appearance. Big Fish, which was completed in March, has extra large protected stowage in the bow for a custom 28-foot tender (it has a range of 300 nautical miles) and toys. It also has extraordinarily convenient access to the water from what Aquos calls a “transformer-style swim platform,” which retracts into the hullsides when not in use. Fold-down aft “beaches” combine to create a 37-foot platform that is ideal as a dive or research center.
Accommodations for up to 10 people and nine crew in the trideck layout include a full-beam owner’s stateroom located aft on the bridge deck. Four guest cabins can convert to two full-beam staterooms when you have guests on board who would like a little extra pampering. All cabins have an en suite head. The saloon, dining area, and galley are on the main deck. Extra-large windows (they’re too big to call them portlights) let in massive amounts of natural light, and a full-height atrium stairwell from the lower deck all the way to the flying bridge allows for easy passage.
Extensive tank testing combined with tried-and-true propulsion help give Big Fish a range of 10,000 nautical miles. The hull is steel with an aluminum superstructure. It measures 147 feet, seven inches, with a beam of 29 feet, six inches. The draft is eight feet, five inches. It’s powered by twin 1,050-horsepower Caterpillar 3508B DITA engines. Fuel tankage is 92,000 liters, and the boat has a freshwater capacity of 11,400 liters. Maximum range is achieved at 8 knots. For decreased electrical consumption, the boat features 95-percent LED lighting, which allowed the designer and builder to cut onboard generator sizes in half, compared to a similarly sized boat. Total generator capacity is 125 kilowatts. The yacht will also feature the world’s most sophisticated night navigation equipment from British Columbia-based Current Corporation. Aquos Yachts, (954) 770-9624; www.aquosyachts.com