Perini Navi’s first motoryacht was built for an owner with an environmental conscience and a heart set on exploration. Following M/Y Exuma’s return from an extensive five-year circumnavigation, The Superyacht Owner steps on board in Porto Cervo to catch up with her owner.

Exuma in Tonga

Born from a collaboration between Philippe Briand and the Perini Navi Group, 50m Exuma is the first hull of Briand’s Vitruvius series, built with the primary intention to efficiently cruise the world. With Perini Navi having never built a motoryacht before, the decision to go with this particular yard was perhaps a bit of a gamble for Exuma’s owner, Mr E. But having considered other yards and spoken to the designer, he decided he liked their approach and has been very happy with the result. With an earlier round-the-world trip in his previous 34m Christensen already under his belt, Mr E had refined exactly what he needed in a new project to undertake such a trip again.

“The main thing I knew I would need was an amphibious car that I could launch from the boat into the water, drive to the nearest beach and then tour the island,” Mr E begins to explain. “So Exuma was built with two large garages, one to carry a Jeep that we can launch into the water and use as a tender. It works extremely well in remote countries where you don’t have taxis and sometimes even cars. It’s an excellent tender and it’s a Jeep so it can drive down any terrain.”

Exuma's amphibious tender

Characterised by a knife-like bow and sleek lines, Exuma lies somewhere between a navy vessel and a sailing yacht without masts, which is understandable considering Briand’s background in the sailing sector. She was built as an exploration boat, but not in the typical sense: while many exploration vessels have beamy and sturdy features with steel hulls, Exuma differs.

With Mr E conscious of fuel economy and wanting the best hull for performance, Exuma was designed to create less water resistance than a conventional displacement hull. As a result, she consumes significantly less fuel and therefore emits relatively low quantities of carbon dioxide compared with other motoryachts of her size. “The purpose was to keep the weight down, so we used aluminium for the hull and superstructure and titanium for the railings, which is unusual for an explorer yacht,” Mr E describes. “The result has been a very capable boat with low fuel consumption and a top speed of 17 knots.”

"The administrative problems in these remote regions can sometimes be a bit tricky... but you just need to be flexible and, above all, have the will to do it.”

Shortly after her launch in 2010 as the first of Perini Navi’s Picchiotti range, Exuma set out on its five-year circumnavigation, which saw Mr E and his family spend the majority of their time in areas including French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Soloman Islands, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Borneo and Palawan. When asked about the highlights, Mr E picks out a number of islands due to their outstanding scenery.

“The whole of French Polynesia has quite a variety if you take into account the Marquesas, and we found some islands in the Lau Group in Fiji,” he recounts. “There is an island there called Fulaga, which is one of the most amazing places my captain and I have ever seen, and the other being Wayag in the Raja Ampat, Indonesia.”

In the Hermit Islands, Papua New Guinea

The boat’s five-year survey is currently underway, but Mr E’s adventurous streak doesn’t stop here, and he is planning something very special for Exuma’s itinerary next year. He intends to cross Russia through the inland waterways, starting in St Petersburg, moving to Lake Ladoga and then continuing north via a canal with 19 locks that ends up in the Arctic Ocean. As this route was made legal for foreign flagged yachts only in 2012, Exuma will be one of the first of her size to undertake such an expedition. 

Having experienced world cruising to such an extreme, would Mr E recommend such trips to other yacht owners? “Without a doubt,” he responds. “I don’t know why more owners don’t do it because it’s not a matter of danger or means. I made a similar trip the first time with a 34m motoryacht and it was perfectly doable. The administrative problems in these remote regions can sometimes be a bit tricky, and provisioning for food can be difficult, but you just need to be flexible and, above all, have the will to do it.”

The full interview can be read in Issue 20 of The Superyacht Owner, available to suscribers here.

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