Yachting, while still the ultimate exercise in one-upmanship, is no longer linked exclusively to the see-and-be-seen set navigating between the same overcrowded anchorages. Increasingly, charter clients want their time on the water to be a true escape—their vessels a means to play Magellan and really explore. And a handful of select outfitters are very much on board.
“Covid accelerated the number of people going to remote, bucket-list locations,” says Neal Bateman, yacht director at Cookson Adventures, which organizes trips to the Solomon Islands, Patagonia, and Antarctica aboard superyacht SuRi. “The growth in explorer yachts coming online is also driving this increase.” Solitude, copious natural attractions, and raw Arctic beauty have made Greenland a go-to destination for many off-grid adventurers, and Cookson is planning a voyage there that promises polar bears, musk oxen, wolves, and Arctic foxes, as well as heli-skiing, hiking along fjords, and visits to Inuit villages. Submersible trips also offer dramatic underwater views of fjords, icebergs, and whales.
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Montana-based Yellow Dog Flyfishing, meanwhile, specializes in exclusive access to the world’s most isolated, fish-abundant destinations, and is now ready to share the Amirantes. This group of outer islands in the Seychelles has become a mecca for saltwater anglers thanks to its inaccessibility, which makes it one of the world’s most prolific big-game destinations when it comes to casting a fly, with shallow atolls and gin-clear flats teeming with barracuda, milkfish, giant trevally, and triggerfish. “These islands have restricted shallow-water fishing,” says Alec Gerbec, Yellow Dog’s program director for the Seychelles. “It’s not open to the general public.” The 10-day charter aboard the 75-foot catamaran Quovadis includes customized one-day stops to the tiny, sunken atoll of Rémire, the African Banks, and Alphonse Island, which is reputed to have the best bonefishing on the planet.
An ocean away, EYOS is offering a handful of Antarctic summer expeditions aboard the 157-foot Hanse Explorer, traversing the remotest coastlines and dramatic glaciers of this beguiling continent. During the Antarctic’s offseason, the expedition yacht will serve as EYOS’s base in tropical Melanesia. “This is one of the least-explored places on Earth, yet has long been part of our DNA,” says EYOS cofounder Rob McCallum, who lived on Papua New Guinea for 13 years. In 2024, Angela Pennefather (raised on Papua New Guinea) will lead a very different type of expedition, accompanying guests on rare cultural experiences such as a Baining fire dance on Rabaul or an air safari by private jet for a night on Goroka with the Asaro “mud men” of Polga.
The Mergui Archipelago, off Myanmar, also offers a step back in time with the chance to explore its 800 mostly unpopulated islands. Black Tomato has designed a charter aboard the 167-foot Dunia Baru with guided shore excursions that include jungle treks amid wildcats and monkeys, spelunking in limestone caves, and visits to a village of semi-nomadic Mogen fishermen who provide seafood for the boat. “In many anchorages, the only lights you see are the stars,” says Black Tomato’s Emma de Vadder. “These islands offer experiences you can’t get anywhere else.”
In the secluded, pristine cruising grounds of Indonesia’s Coral Triangle and Raja Ampat, hand-built teak-and-ironwood phinisis are the vessels of choice. But traditional doesn’t necessarily mean rustic. Rascal Voyages has a seven-day charter from Labuan Bajo to Bali aboard the luxurious 98-foot Rascal. The itinerary includes surfing, snorkeling with whale sharks in Sumbawa, and the option of diving with scientists for manta-ray research and conservation in Komodo National Park.
A volunteerism component was also shared by one of Cookson’s Fijian charters, where the explorer yacht documented the seabed of a local bay. “That data helped a local tribe extend the marine-protected area of the bay,” says Bateman. Going off the grid and giving back? It just takes a little mapping out.
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