The ultimate long-range explorer yacht is available for co-ownership

The ultimate long-range explorer yacht is available for co-ownership

Jasper Smith, founder of Arksen and champion for a new brand of off-grid oceanic adventure, talks to Alex Smith

Jasper Smith’s formative years were full of outdoor adventure; of climbing, mountaineering and sailing, and while his professional background would eventually anchor itself in the software business, the older he got, the keener he became to build tangible products that could bring others the kind of experiences he had so enjoyed.

“I’ve owned boats for the last 25 years and I’ve done quite a lot of long-distance passages,” he says. “I’ve sailed from Sydney to Alaska; from the Faroe Islands to South Africa. I’ve done various transatlantic ocean voyages. So I was really interested in where form meets function and where adventure really plugs into that.”

That’s essentially how Arksen began. “There are very few sailors who don’t dream of sailing off into the distance and across the horizon, but actually, the vast majority of boats are just not built for that.

So starting Arksen was really about trying to build machines that give people the confidence to go as far as they could possibly dream of going.” To that end, they’re designed and built as commercial vessels rather than leisure yachts; to Workboat 2 and Cat 0 standards for unrestricted offshore operation. As Jasper puts it, “They’re designed and built as mini ships for continuous use so, subject to maintenance, they could run 365 days a year, in the same way that maybe a ferry could.”

7,000nm cruising range means the world is your oyster

Critically though, Arksen is about much more than just capable hardware. “When you’re building a business, you need to think about what it is that an owner of one of your products wants to get out of it. And almost nobody we speak to is interested in owning a boat.

“Fundamentally, they’re only owning a boat because they want to go and do something else, so the traditional model of ‘Come to me because I can sell you a product’ – well that model is pretty much just legacy now.”

And that’s where the new Arksen syndicate comes in…

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Sharing the adventure

“What differentiates the Arksen programme from other co-ownership schemes is firstly, the fact that these boats enable you to go much further off-grid; and secondly, the fact that the itineraries are truly adventurous,” explains Smith.

“There’s a northern circuit up to Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. We also have a North American circuit, which is the northwest coast of America, the Aleutian Islands, across the Bering Sea, maybe down through the northwest passage. There’s a Greenland itinerary and we’re looking at Chile too.

The upper deck has a dedicated nav station in addition to the helm

“We also cover the more traditional Caribbean and Mediterranean cruising grounds. So the co-owners broadly determine what they would like to do and then the skipper helps map out that schedule using some of these reference points.

“But adventure isn’t just about being on the boat,” Smith continues. “The skipper and crew are often dive masters, parasailers, climbers and mountaineers, so they can bring to life not just the vessel but also all the experiences that it can facilitate.

“The guys who run our Adventure Division are pretty extraordinary too – so for instance, if mountaineering is where your passion lies, the same community of people building our sailing itineraries can also help you climb Mount Everest.”

The main deck saloon backs onto the open-plan galley and dinette

Making a difference

Another key element of the Arksen package is a charity called 10 Percent for the Ocean. It funds about 70 major ocean research projects in 27 countries, including a programme called Yachts for Science. “What that enables us to do is create science programmes that sit alongside our co-ownership syndicates,” says Smith. “We ask people to donate 10% of the sea time of each vessel to ocean research and conservation.

“Our owners love it because it means they can get their kids involved. They can learn more about the ocean, they can meet the scientists, they can do some of the basic testing – and that adds a lovely philanthropic, educational element. You might love adventure, you might love science, you might love boats and this pulls all those things together in a really natural way.”

As for the ideal co-owner, Jasper acknowledges that having the right outlook does matter. “You’ve got to buy into a couple of things. It’s experiential. You’re going to go places and do things that may not be as comfortable as sitting on the beach. We’re also keen for co-owners to feel like part of the crew, sharing things like cooking, basic maintenance and watches. The idea is to take people who are really into their boats and to get to a point where they can almost bare-boat it.”

Commercial spec galley is designed for long- term liveaboard cruising

That said, Jasper also understands how subjective the idea of adventure is. “Your interpretation of adventure will be different to mine, so I hate the idea of intimidating people. Instead, what we’re really trying to do at Arksen is make oceanic adventure feel accessible to as broad a range of people as possible.

“That, to me, is a spirit. It’s a way of living. It’s about opening your soul to the environment around you and being enriched by the moment you’re in. Hopefully, through Arksen, that applies just as easily to a two-year-old kid as it does to a 50-year-old man.”

Stepping aboard

Having now seen the first completed Arksen 85 in the flesh, it’s clear that Jasper’s vision of a true offshore explorer yacht has been faithfully realised. Designed by Humphreys Yacht Design and built by the Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight, it marries commercial spec build and engineering with luxury-yacht levels of comfort.

That starts with an aluminium hull featuring 12mm plating below the waterline and 8mm above it. Even the windows are made from reinforced 25mm glass. Designed to withstand everything from ice floes to being knocked down by a freak wave, the hull has been left unfaired and untreated to minimise maintenance requirements.

The midship owner’s cabin is very comfortable rather than luxurious

The slender front sections, long waterline length, relatively low displacement (90 tonnes) and flat, beamy aft sections allow it to slip effortlessly through the water at its designed cruising speed of 9-12 knots. At this pace its twin heavy duty 350hp Scania engines burn just 25lph, giving it a calculated range of almost 7,000nm from its 18,000-litre fuel capacity.

This is stored in four separate bunker tanks and two day tanks with doubled up fuel polishing to guarantee cleanliness. Engine cooling is equally robust, with each of its twin sea chests having sufficient capacity to cool both engines at once.

On-board water makers and a full sewage treatment plant allow the boat to stay at sea for months on end, while a 40kWh lithium ion battery bank sealed in its own fire-resistant space allows silent running of all the ship’s systems independently of the twin Kohler generators. Even the Humphree electric fin stabilisers are assisted by old school flopper stoppers to reduce electrical draw at rest.

One of the two primary guest suites. Headroom is exceptional throughout the lower deck

The same level of thought has gone into the interior, with Design Unlimited creating a stylish but unfussy look with the emphasis on practical living. The upper deck is primarily given over to helming with 360° views, a separate navigation station and a small convertible dinette and galley area.

The main open-plan galley, dining and lounging areas are all on the main deck with a small pop-up helm station forward for more sociable passage-making.

The lower deck is divided into three sealable, watertight compartments with a pair of twin guest/crew cabins forward, two larger twin/doubles amidships and the owners’ and captain’s cabins aft. None of these are overtly luxurious but all enjoy their own ensuite facilities and sufficient natural light, headroom, floorspace and storage to be a comfortable refuge.

However, it’s the generous technical spaces aft, comprising the battery room, engineroom and lazarette that really characterise this yacht. The latter houses everything from an engineer’s work bench to laundry facilities, chest freezers and a dive tank compressor.

The new custom-built Arksen 85 runs alongside its smaller siblings

None of this comes cheap and nearly all of it is open to customisation, but even at a starting price of £9.5million it’s not hard to see where the money has gone.

Arksen 85 specifications

LOA: 89ft 7in (27.3m)
BEAM: 22ft 11in (6.99m)
DRAFT: 5ft 1in (1.55m)
ENGINES: 2 x 350hp Scania
TOP SPEED: 14 knots
FUEL CAPACITY: 18,000 litres
RANGE: 7,000nm @ 9-12 knots
PRICE: £9.5m, excluding tax

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