The introduction of the Polar Code in 2017 may finally signal the arrival of a concrete standard by which the merit of an ‘explorer’ or ‘expedition’ yacht can be judged. We are all too aware of the vessels and concepts that now flood the superyacht market claiming to be explorer vessels. For some owners, the seafaring equivalent of a Range Rover Sport may be enough to impress their peers and awestruck onlookers, but to those who know the sea they are just confirmation that superyachts are a status symbol.
To claim that the auspices of adventure belong to the wealthy alone would be to do a great many people a disservice. However, traditional adventure and discovery relied on the deep pockets of patrons who had become disenfranchised with the contentment of butler service and cosy living rooms. Provisions, transport, guides, weaponry and companions all had to be arranged and paid for.
There are few genuine frontiers left to tackle, yet you can be sure that anyone who uses this as an excuse not to visit the most remote and wonderful places in the world, would probably not have gone anyway, undiscovered or not.
There is no shame in building a superyacht to cruise the Mediterranean and enjoy all the comforts and pleasures the superyachting lifestyle provides, but why not do so in a yacht fit for purpose as opposed to a yacht fit for purpose under the guise of an explorer?
The Polar Code and its specific design, construction, equipment, operational, training and environmental requirements has the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Adventure is alive and well, and the desire to explore lives on in the superyacht community, all be it hidden from view by the static majority. But this is, I imagine, exactly what expedition owners desire. Designers spend vast amounts of time creating features that bolster privacy, but if you want genuine privacy, explore.
In a very real sense, almost all superyachts are explorers, like all humans are singers in so much as they can sing. Perhaps, instead of approaching the term explorer with cynicism, we should practice restraint in our choice of words.
For comprehensive details of the Polar Code in relation to superyacht design look out for our article in Issue 26 of SuperyachtDesign in the New Year.