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What Makes A Yacht, An Explorer Yacht?

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

The following article was written by my friend, John Johnson (

John is ex RN and RNLI so has seen his fair share of rough seas and demanding locations. Fro many great video on this specific genre have a look at John's You Tube channel HERE.

As a life-long fan of explorer and expedition yachts, it has been great to see this genre of vessel become so popular recently.

Since the end of the restrictions on global movements that came in the wake of the pandemic, boat owners - both new and old - have realised that there is no point spending lots of money on a boat that will only take you 200 nautical miles in calm weather conditions.

So it is not surprising that explorer yachts and expedition yachts have become so popular, as reflected in the fact that shipyards which specialise in producing these highly capable boats are seeing a tidal wave of orders meaning that many clients with dreams of disappearing off into the distance on their new motor yacht are having to wait a long time for their dream vessel to materialise.

But what makes a motor yacht an explorer yacht? Here are a few of my own 'essentials' when it comes to what helps to define an explorer yacht.

  • Well, one of the first things an explorer yacht needs to have, is the ability to travel long distances. So the range is essential.

  • Most yacht enthusiasts do not consider a vessel to be 'long range' unless it can cover over 3,000 nautical miles on a single tank(s) of fuel.

  • At the very least, an 'explorer yacht' should be able to cross a major ocean with fuel to spare.

  • Another important factor when deciding if a motor yacht can be called an 'explorer yacht' is the ability to operate in weather conditions and sea states which would keep most other vessels tied up alongside.

  • If a boat is rated anything other than CE Category 'A', better still, UK MCA Category (0) it cannot really be classed as an 'explorer yacht' as it is unsuited for unrestricted worldwide travel.

  • A true explorer yacht should also be able to operate autonomously with a significant amount of redundancy built into its systems. To achieve this, many are more akin to commercial designs than the typical pleasure cruiser. Every major system has built in redundancy for when hope is a distant option.

But on a more aesthetic note, and in my humble opinion, an explorer yacht should have the lines of a build created for serious cruising. For me, an explorer yacht should never have reverse-raked windows, pools, excessive sun beds or the typical bling of the Côte d'Azur.

But that is just a personal preference............ "Form follows function when it comes to the unforgiving seas of this world."

John Johnson - aka - Yacht-Buoy!

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