Damen Yachting’s SeaXplorer 77 La Datcha Heads For Kamchatka
Available for charter, La Datcha is a purpose-built expedition yacht set to explore some of the world’s most remote and stunning locations, starting in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. By Bruce Maxwell.
Heliskiing and volcano visits on the Russian Far East’s Kamchatka Peninsula are among activities offered to charter guests aboard Damen Yachting’s recently-launched luxury SeaXplorer 77 La Datcha, described as “a unique project never seen before in the yachting industry”.
Availability is from July to December and the rate is €740,000 (about US$885,000) a week plus 30 per cent advance provisioning allowance. Bookings are reportedly brisk.
After that, La Datcha heads for Cabo San Lucas, a sportfishing mecca on the Pacific Coast of Mexico’s Baja California, and then, via Chile, to the Ross Sea in Antarctica.
Other exotic cruises, some working with EYOS Expeditions, are to include the Bering Sea and Alaska, the Northwest and Northeast Passages, Arctic Svalbard and Greenland, as well as remoter parts of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Southeast Asia, Maldives and the Seychelles are in the schedule, too.
Says La Datcha’s website: “The Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas and their islands are undoubtedly beautiful, but altogether they amount to only 5 per cent of the world’s coastlines. Most luxury superyachts never venture any further, leaving 95 per cent of routes unexplored. If you are willing to go off the beaten track, we are there for you.”
In Kamchatka alone, Marketing and Sales Director Dasha Tinkova talks of brown bears, tundra wolves, Arctic foxes, snow sheep, reindeer, moose and muskoxen. The 1,250 km peninsula almost encloses the Sea of Okhotsk, where La Datcha will position for some charters, and offers all six species of Pacific salmon, Arctic narwhales, beluga whales and walruses, plus superb diving.
Huge sea eagles soar overhead and this remarkable “land of ice and fire” has 160 volcanoes, 29 of them active, in a World Heritage Site. Klyuchevskaya Sopka at 4,750m is the highest volcano in the Northern Hemisphere. Close offshore, the mysterious Kuril-Kamchatka Trench is 10,500m deep.
To tackle such environments, a very special vessel is needed, so the owner’s team, project managers, designers, builders, EYOS and others combined to produce an ocean-going charter yacht reflecting Amels’ advanced superyacht outfitting abilities on a tried and tested Damen Yachting SeaXplorer hull.
Says Rose Damen, the builder: “The SeaXplorer is a design and concept that appeals to those who are excited by the idea of adventure and exploration, but are still looking for that crossover with luxury yachting. That is exactly where La Datcha’s journey began.
“The owner wanted to bring a whole new approach to the explorer market. A yacht built for adventures in the far-flung corners of the world, without any compromise on the luxury experience, and with a commercial goal. This was to be a yacht intended for charter in both polar and tropical regions.
“With such a vision, our goal was to deliver the first purpose-built Explorer yacht in time to charter a few weeks after delivery. We took our SeaXplorer range as the build platform for this 77m vessel.”
EYOS Expeditions was aboard from the outset, and Damen says it benefitted hugely from their operational know-how and experience. This was the key in achieving a level of capability “that cannot be found in traditional superyachts and conversion designs”.
“We incorporated hundreds of operational design features based on real expedition experience, and were able to customise and build to the owner’s brief, including many unique features which truly make her one of a kind.”
That brief began forming in 2017, when the owner took an interest in an Amels 60 Limited Editions design, attracted by the clean vertical lines of the axe bow, but once he saw the SeaXplorer concept, this instantly became his designated project.
Azure Yacht Design was called in. They had created the SeaXplorer series exteriors for the Damen Group as a development of the latter’s famous Yacht Support Vessels, a hybrid that combined the strength of the Damen Sea Axe hull and lines with the more classic beauty and luxury of subsidiary Amels superyachts.
Parent Damen is an enormous family-owned Dutch defence, engineering and shipbuilding group that has businesses in 120 countries, based at Vlissingen near the Dutch-Belgian border, with access there to the North Sea.
Erik Spek of Azure says: “The challenge was to make a commercial and potentially bulky-looking vessel look dynamic, yachtlike and well proportioned.
“As it was going to be a fully committed explorer-type yacht, we wanted to use a strong conceptual incentive to visually ‘protect’ guests on board. By wrapping the colossal bow around the superstructure, the exterior design both visually and literally created the yacht’s armour against the sea and ice.”
Other exterior design features include an observation post in the bow for activities like whale watching or perhaps observing arctic scenery, and a ‘floating band’ in the profile continues forward of the panoramic interior observation lounge, providing an extra sense of security. There’s also a custom lifeboat cum limousine tender that is a replica of La Datcha herself, a sort of ‘mini me’, which when stowed, blends beautifully into the hull and its Saharan tan colour scheme.
The aluminium mast’s Crow’s Nest offers an extraordinary 360-degree viewing point, and the forward observation lounge on the upper deck likewise affords spectacular 270 degree vistas.
La Datcha refers to a second home in Russia, also spelt dacha. Traditionally it is a small cottage in the woods, where Russian people spend their holidays and weekends. This floating cottage spans six decks and offers luxury accommodation for 12 guests in six suites, including two masters and two VIPs. Each comes with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe.
The owner’s suite on the principal deck is an expansive 95sqm and on the upper deck it is 67.5sqm. This can be combined with a 35sqm suite to form an apartment-style set-up. The three other suites are 40sqm, the same size as VIP suites aboard an Amels 242 Limited Edition, so La Datcha really does deliver luxury volume within its 14m beam. Ceiling heights are 2.2m.
She carries a crew of 19 bolstered by up to six expedition-related staff such as helicopter pilots, heli engineer, and expedition guides for specific activities.
Initial Build Captain Darren Wakelam says: “La Datcha’s 6,000nm range and 40-day autonomy at sea gives us enormous capability to cruise to remote areas, which tend to be more rugged and offer more wildlife. Her voyage to the Russian Far East is sure to be fabulous. It is pretty much the end of the world. Hard to access, unspoiled, and very, very few yachts have ever travelled there.
“Without doubt, she’s built to a high standard both externally as a ship and internally in the luxury spaces. She looks rugged and capable, and with a well-appointed interior, promises adventure. I have zero doubt that she will make good on that promise.”
As La Datcha is now well under way, two further Captains, Alistair Reed and Alexander Baronjan, are handling the vessel in rotation. Custom interiors are created by Russian architect Vasiliy Shprits, who has previously focused on private residences and luxury resort fitouts. Apart from the comforts of the salons and lounges, guests have an extra-large beach club with sauna, steam room, massage and gym.
Natural oak, leather, bronze, marble and onyx are blended with stone mosaics and woollen rugs to create chic and unusual aspects while still being simple and warm, with adventure as the underlying theme.
There is a sideboard with 3D leather panelling, and a featured ice bar 3.2m long and made from almost completely clear epoxy resin. It looks like a real block of ice and can be illuminated in different colours.
The vessel itself is Ice Classed and built to the latest IMO Polar Code. Other parts of the Damen Shipyards Group construct Ice Breakers and Coast Guard Ships, so they already had state-of-the-art expertise in these fields.
The Code now includes having a reinforced Ice Class 1C Ice Breaker hull, and stabilisers are retractable to avoid being trapped by drifting ice floes or submersed logs.
She is fully equipped for world class heliskiing with two helicopters, a certified helideck and below-deck hangar, ski room, snowmobiles and avalanche safety equipment, and is designed to carry an impressive inventory of tropical equipment for ocean exploring, such as a dive centre, three-person Triton 1650 submarine finished in La Datcha colours, wave runners, more toys and watercraft, and three large tenders.
On the port side is a Fassmer, custom designed and built rescue boat cum limousine tender of 9.26m. On the starboard outside is an 8.5m Beachlander, and inside a 9.1 m RIB tender, both by Insider Yachts.
La Datcha is designed to deliver 40 days of autonomy at sea thanks to extra-large stores for provisions, laundry, luggage, fuel, waste-water holding tanks and garbage management. There is also a hospital aboard, close to the crew quarters, where the crew gym is located. Having a hospital is a formality required by class, and it has complete quarantine facilities, including its own separate air-conditioning and sewage systems.
Project management for the owner was conducted by Alexander Pizano of Fraser, and charter bookings may be made via Victoria Verhovskaia at agents Edmiston Monaco.
Concludes Pizano: “She is the first purpose-built expedition yacht with a fixed itinerary, a product never seen before in the yachting industry.”