Luxury yacht charter comes in many shapes and sizes. There are five-deck motoryachts designed specifically to look impressive during parties at the Monaco Grand Prix. There are sleek racing sailboats built to win fashionable regattas like the St. Barth’s Bucket. There are slow, stable catamarans made for families with children who want to relax in the Virgin Islands.
And then there are the charter yachts conceived for people who want to venture farther afield. Few memories compare with the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that an adventure yacht charter can offer.
Yachts built to cruise well beyond popular marinas are called expedition yachts. As with Hummers on land, these yachts can look downright militaristic compared with their everyday sisterships. Ice-breaking hulls, for instance, can give expedition yachts terrific power and safety ratings, but steel shaped to crack through frozen slabs will cut a far different profile than a composite hull that never touches water cooler than 60 degrees. The same is true for enclosed aft decks, which can be heated in colder climates for guest comfort. They look a lot bulkier than the more common, wide-open decks.
These types of rugged features serve several purposes. Functionality is of course the big one, but in addition, stronger-looking yachts can be a safety feature unto themselves. When you charter in far-flung locations, especially those well beyond the range of fast emergency response, it’s often better to have locals think you’re aboard a vessel that is far more than a luxury yacht.
Crew also need special training for expedition yacht charters. Most crew who join such yachts are adventurous by nature; for starters, they’re willing to commit to leaving home for at least a year, which is how long it can take for some yachts to get to and from the most remote locations.
Crew on expedition yachts are often hired because they have special skills, too. In addition to knowing how to run the yacht and provide top-notch service, they may be master scuba divers, have offshore fishing experience, know advanced first aid, hold a helicopter or pilot’s license, or have other unique training. Such skill sets aren’t usually necessary for traditional yacht charter near tiki bars and calm beaches, but they are extremely important if you’re onboard a charter yacht offering, say, heli-skiing off the coast of Chile.
Thus, when selecting an adventure yacht charter vacation, it’s important to ask questions not just about the destination, but also about the yacht itself and the crew onboard. Determine what kinds of medical services will be available (some charter yachts carry defibrillators and subscribe to satellite-based systems that connect to doctors onshore). Find out what contingency plans are in place should you need to depart ahead of schedule (some expedition yachts carry high-speed tenders or helicopters). Ask what supplies the yacht has onboard for inclement weather (umbrellas are standard, but you may need survival suits in super-cold waters). The yacht’s captain should be able to answer all these questions, long before you arrive in a remote location.
Once you’ve done your homework and selected an adventure charter, get out there and enjoy. Few memories compare with the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that an adventure yacht charter can offer. You may get to swim with humpback whales, or land a 200-pound marlin, or take a helicopter from the yacht’s sundeck to the top of a glacier for a picnic lunch. You may get to dance with natives in grass huts, or enter a shark cave 80 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, or sip cocktails from a glass chilled with chips of ancient glacial ice. With expedition yacht charter, the world becomes your playground. And if you enter that playground with the right equipment, you can have a heck of a lot of fun.
Photos courtesy Edmiston and Company.