Sunday, May 9

New Arksen 85 Expedition Yacht from Innovative Builder

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Here’s a new expedition yacht from a fresh player in that market with deep pockets and a well-developed appreciation of both innovation and adventure. The Arksen 85, now being built on the Isle of Wight, is the brainchild of Jasper Smith, the tech entrepreneur who founded PlayJam, the world’s largest TV games network; he now  wants to build an environmentally friendly series of expedition yachts that can take on rough waters anywhere in the world. The Arksen 85 is a different kind of yacht from a different kind of company.

Arksen is planning three models, 70-, 85- and 100-footers that the company says are “designed to take adventurers to the most challenging places on the planet.” It also says “we aim to encourage and motivate the next generation of explorers, scientists and conservationists.”

The Arksen 85, with its aluminum hull, is being built to ice-class standards. With hybrid power, solar cells, and large storage areas, it is designed to spend three months at sea. It will carry 4,775 gallons of fuel and have a range of about 7,000 nm at 8 knots, topping out at 14 knots.

Smith himself knows a bit about adventure. In 1989, he sailed a 55-foot yacht from Australia to Alaska via the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. He managed to climb 11 mountains along the way.

To create the Arksens, he turned to Humphreys Yacht Design in the U.K for the hull and basic boat, to Design Unlimited for the interior, and to the Wight Shipyard for the construction. The hull is long and relatively thin; it flattens out toward the transom where the two props are protected by skegs. A graceful chine that starts up the bow runs far aft, generating lift while helping to deflect water.

The boat is designed to be self-righting after a 180-degree rollover, and it can be beached, if necessary. You can adjust the center of gravity according to sea conditions; there are ballast tanks in the bow, and fuel can be transferred to alternative tanks to help reduce pitching in head seas and to make life more comfortable in following seas. Stabilizers are standard.

The interiors are highly customized, but they’re made from fully recyclable materials for a 50-year lifespan of the boat. The new 85, built for a British owner, has seven cabins with en suite heads, but future boats can be reconfigured for fewer guest cabins and more for the crew, or whatever the owner wants.

The new 85 owner wants contemporary living spaces, designed for minimal crew and incorporating maximum storage space. The master stateroom has an extra sea berth, a large en suite head and shower and a steam room. The galley is complete with a home-style stove and oven, two freezers, two fridges, and two dishwashers.

The foredeck has a fore-and-aft facing sofa plus a pair of sun lounges. The aft section of the upper deck can be used for outdoor eating or observation, and the aft deck has room for storing and launching submersibles for underwater exploration. .

The Arksen 85 comes with several power packages. The full hybrid system lets the boat cruise under diesel or electric power. Other options include variations in diesel power, combined with solar and electric power.

The company itself has created some innovative features. It offers a guaranteed buyback option to owners, for example. “You can buy our vessels and be secure in the knowledge that when the time comes, if it comes, you can sell it immediately,” Smith says.

It also has an ownership program requiring all owners to donate 10 percent of the boat’s sea time to projects supported by the Arksen Foundation. These include the Seabed 2030 Project, designed to complete mapping of the world’s ocean floor, and the Ocean Futures Society, founded by Jean-Michel Cousteau to explore the oceans and to educate people to act responsibly to protect them. All owners are invited to join the foundation’s board, which selects future projects.

Arksen also has started its Explorers’ Club, offering itineraries to remote destinations, including Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole, Easter Island in the South Pacific, and the Falklands in the South Atlantic.

Specs.: LOA: 89’5”; Beam: 22’6”; Draft: 5’0”; Disp.: 82.5 tons; Fuel: 4,755 gals.; Water: 1,585 gals.; Power: 2x246kW.  2×325-hp diesels. Read more:




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