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About 20 years ago, Yachting ran an article with the title “Game Theory.” It explained that the way yachts were being outfitted for charter was changing. Prior to that time, most yachts available for charter carried water skis and snorkeling gear, and had a RIB as a tender for zipping around. Some yacht owners and captains back then were just starting to think bigger. “The trend is piling up as many toys as you can,” a charter broker said at the time. “They just want to have a full repertoire, a variety, something for everyone.”
Today, of course, that trend is now considered standard operating procedure for charter yachts worldwide, with guests expecting to find an arsenal of water toys ready for use at a moment’s notice. In the current environment of “the charter yacht with the most toys wins,” it takes a heck of a lot to stand out—which is why the 164-foot Heesen Arkadia is so noteworthy.
The yacht is a 2021 delivery from the Dutch yard that’s about to begin its first charter season in the Bahamas and Caribbean, after joining the Y.CO fleet this past August. And Arkadia is coming into the islands positively packed with water toys that, in some cases, are rare-gem finds.
“Our owner, he’s very active,” Capt. Jamie Farnborough says. “He’s up at 7 a.m. and normally running pretty hard until the sun goes down, and even then, he still wants to go night scuba diving. It’s an action-packed day. We wanted watersports equipment to cover [all the bases], every weather condition, and I think we’ve done that quite successfully.”
First and foremost on Arkadia’s list of standout tenders and toys is a 20-foot MasterCraft—a brand name that is uncommon among tenders in the superyacht realm. MasterCraft is a Tennessee company known for performance boats in the world of wakesurfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding. In the case of Arkadia, the MasterCraft tender makes all kinds of watersports possible.
“If it’s a super-flat, calm day, we have the MasterCraft to take people skiing or wakeboarding,” Farnborough says. “As soon as you get a little wind, we have kitesurfing gear for everything from 5 knots to 30 knots of breeze. We have the scuba-diving equipment, the wing foils—you name it, we’ve got it. If there’s a watersport to be done, we can accommodate it.”
He’s not exaggerating. Other toys on board include a Manta hydrofoil bike, for bicycling atop the water, and gear for taking charter guests wingfoiling. “It’s the new thing between windsurfing and kitesurfing,” Farnborough says. “It’s like an inflatable windsurfing sail, but you’re on a hydrofoil board. You’re out of the water, holding on to an inflatable wing, like an airplane.”
And yes, there are multiple instructors on board to teach charter guests how to do all this and more. “We’ve got kiteboarding instructors, diving instructors, professional kitesurfers on the boat,” he says. “We’re starting now to look at freediving. You come here, and we’ll guarantee that you’re going to leave this boat with some kind of new skill if you want to with watersports.”
All that activity, of course, also requires some serious relaxation and a good night’s sleep. The crew are prepared to offer just about any level of service that guests prefer: “They can dial the service up to be very high-end, or they can dial it down to a more country-club type of service,” Farnborough says. “It’s important because every charter guest is different. We gauge that pretty quickly.”
The chef too is trained to provide whatever standard of meals meet guest expectations. “We have a very talented chef who worked in pretty significant restaurants in South Africa, so he can dial in on what you’re looking for,” Farnborough says. “If you want to indulge in rich foods, we can do that. If you want to be super-healthy, we can do that too.”
Arkadia has overnight accommodations for 10 charter guests in five staterooms, including a full-beam master forward on the main deck. Each of the four guest staterooms belowdecks is en suite, and there are additional quarters for nine crew.
The interior decor is largely by Reymond Langton, which Heesen tasked with creating a contemporary, comfortable space that would appeal to a wide range of potential buyers for the spec-built yacht. Appealing to a wide range of people is, of course, also an excellent quality in a charter yacht, and Bannenberg & Rowell later contributed some touches to the decor at the owners’ request, to add some of their personal tastes. The result is guest spaces largely focused around calming tones with rounded shapes, punctuated by occasional pops of color in pillows, vases and bespoke works of art. Much of the lighting that was installed during the build is indirect, softly adding to the natural light that comes through the windows (some of them sole to ceiling in size).
Heesen also built Arkadia to cruise long distances, so all those water toys can get a workout in exhilarating diving and boarding destinations around the world. Arkadia’s steel hull is a full-displacement, round-bilge design that has what the builder calls a drag-cheating bulbous bow. Top speed is reportedly 15 knots, with a transoceanic range of 3,800 nautical miles at an economical 12 knots.
Farnborough says the crew makes the most of the boat’s cruising capabilities with an enhanced navigation package at the helm. “We’ve set the boat up specifically for off-the-beaten-path cruising,” he says. “We have a lot of different chart options and tools for cross-referencing. I can get this boat to pretty remote places on the planet where they might not see another human being for a week. That’s a really special thing to be able to do.”
And at anchor, even in choppy locations, Naiad zero-speed stabilizers should help keep everyone comfortable on board.
Arkadia’s owner is American, so the yacht is expected to spend summers in the Bahamas, and winters in the Bahamas and Caribbean. Given that the owner’s family is quite active, Y.CO is marketing the boat as ideal for families or groups of friends who want to have “maximum fun on the water.” The lowest weekly base rate is $275,000, with a holiday weekly rate this winter of $295,000.
Across the pond, meanwhile, Heesen continues to turn out new builds at a fast clip. Toward the end of August, the 164-foot Project Jade had its hull and superstructure joined, and its engines installed. Project Jade is an aluminum build capable of achieving 23 knots, with construction proceeding at a pace that should lead to delivery in April 2024.
Heesen also launched Project Gemini this past summer. Newly christened Reliance, that yacht is a 180-footer that also started life as a spec build, with the owner joining the project some 15 months into construction. Reliance also marks the Dutch yard’s first collaboration with the Italian firm Luca Dini Design, which helped adapt the yacht to the owner’s tastes.
Also in July, Heesen delivered the 164-foot Book Ends, which was known as Project Sapphire during its build process. Like Project Jade, Book Ends is an aluminum, fast-cruising design that the owner—who tapped Heesen for new builds two times in less than four years—calls “a race car” on the water.
And as if all that is not enough, earlier this year Heesen also delivered Lusine, a 196-foot fully custom commission that was known as Project Falcon in the shipyard. Sinot Yacht Design and Architecture was hired for that yacht’s interior decor, which the yard calls “one of the most complex interiors ever crafted by the artisans of Heesen Yachts Interiors, who enjoyed the challenge of working with rare woods, precious fabrics and exquisite leathers.”
All of which is to say that while Arkadia may be new to the charter fleet, the yacht is also part of a strong, diverse and continually growing Heesen fleet that comes with a pedigree built on solid construction, proven seaworthiness, and customized design that can match all kinds of ideas about how to achieve the ideal cruising lifestyle. Arkadia’s extensive watersports program is yet more proof that Heesen’s platforms, while often starting out as spec builds designed to appeal to a broad range of tastes, can be adapted to suit just about anything specific that yacht owners and charter clients might imagine themselves doing.
And yes, that includes anyone reading these pages who fancies himself or herself the world’s next great wakesurfing or kiting champion. The armada of toys and eager-to-teach crew aboard Arkadia really do inspire charter clients to go ahead and dream big. Imagine the adventure. Do some game-theory calculations to determine the best possible combination of activities to maximize a personalized vision of fun, and then book a week or two on board in the islands with Arkadia’s crew as the guide.
As the charter experts at Y.CO say, “her talented team on board, led by Capt. Jamie Farnborough, are ready to delight guests with their amazing ability to create holiday experiences that guests will remember forever.” Or, at least until the next season, when there will be a chance to make new memories all over again.
Many charter yachts carry inflatable or standard paddleboards for guests to enjoy in quiet harbors and coves. Arkadia carries paddleboards too, but also adds to the fun with surfboards, a water toy that is far less common to find in the charter fleet—and that takes the excitement of board sports to a whole other level.
Water Toys Galore
The sheer quantity of water toys aboard the Heesen Arkadia could never fit on a traditional swim platform, even one with modest-size extenders included. Hence the extendible platform shown above, which is ready to help launch everything from standup paddleboards to personal watercraft for guests.
From Spec to Star
Arkadia is Hull No. 2 of Heesen’s 50-meter Steel series, with exterior lines by Clifford Denn, making the yacht a descendant of Ann G (2015) and a sistership to Omaha (2018). The yacht’s attributes include a gross tonnage of 499 and bluewater capabilities, with a reported range of 3,800 nautical miles at 12 knots. Heesen says the yacht’s top speed is 15 knots, powered by twin MTU 8V 4000 M63 engines. Arkadia—as with many Heesens—began life as a spec build. It was completed in late 2019, just before the pandemic. The owner bought Arkadia in autumn 2020 and used it privately until this past August, when it became available for charter as part of the Y.CO fleet.
Arkadia’s hot tub is far forward on the sun deck, allowing for expansive views all around the yacht—perhaps while watching a favorite film on the deck’s 42- and 65-inch TVs. Sun pads flank the hot tub, and there’s a bar just abaft there for grabbing a cocktail or snack.
Ready to Explore
Arkadia’s first full charter season in the Caribbean and Bahamas will give guests options for how they want to explore ashore. In addition to the yacht’s multiple tenders and paddleboards, guests have the choice of cruising around on their own aboard personal watercraft that can get close to shallow shores.
A 20-foot MasterCraft is an uncommon find when it comes to tenders in the charter fleet, even for yachts that charter with shadow boats carrying everything from catamarans to submersibles. The MasterCraft is specifically designed to make the most of wakeboarding and other types of tow-sport sessions.
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