Every business needs a set of philosophies to live by and share. Ours were inspired by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia.
Our design philosophy lies at the core of building safe, innovative, functional and reliable vessels. Great design is more than just good aesthetics, it is the way we use a product. Only then do you experience all the subtle touches; the ingenious visible and invisible aspects that make a great design, exceptional.
An explorer vessel is a hugely complex product involving a myriad of people, processes and systems that are required to work efficiently together for years to come. To make an exceptional vessel is a challenging task and one that without a set of core design beliefs would be almost impossible to achieve. The following details the kind of questions we ask ourselves throughout the design process.
The Arksen Series are also required to be repurposed for a wide range of uses. Individuals that purchase our vessels are precisely that, individuals. Not everyone has the same ideals as each other, and therefore we have to design a product that is adaptable to everyone’s needs and aspirations for travel. A couple may wish to have a luxurious layout with a few cabins for a world cruise or a trip across the Southern Ocean. A marine research institution running a series of scientific studies may require lab space, more accommodation, towing equipment and lifting gear for the launch and retrieval of submersibles. A media production company may require easy access to the water for divers and a lot of free deck space for deploying under water equipment or drones.
We design every Arksen vessel so that its internal spaces can be changed to cater for a wide variety of uses – so extending the life of the vessel and preserving value. This is particularly important to us as it ensures that our vessels have the potential for long service lives and multiple uses; so preserving value.
Every design choice across all materials, processes and systems starts from this set of functional needs.
Our vessels are designed to conform to RCD Category A, the highest ocean voyaging class. The structure has been engineered to comply with and exceed Lloyds Register ‘Special Service Craft’ rules to ensure heavy weather capability and improved structural safety. As a vessel that can cope in extreme conditions it is significantly more comfortable when in moderate seas.
The ‘best’ materials to use for construction and interior fit out are not always the easiest to manufacture or the cheapest on the market. For a product that is designed to survive in the harshest environments, only the highest quality and most durable materials will do.
Minimising Environmental Impact
We look at the full life cycle of each material and major component when choosing which ones to use within our designs. Understanding the real and holistic cost of each element is key to minimising the environmental impact of the overall product. This is a significant task in a large vessel because of the vast array of components and suppliers required.
We partner with manufacturing and engineering companies that themselves have holistic environmental and recycling policies and work to ensure that the integration of all the components does not unduly hinder end of life recycling. Beyond that, our choice of construction and fit out materials starts from the premise that they must be sustainable at the source and easily recyclable at the end of life.
Maintenance and Repair
One of the underlying design principals is that all critical systems have more than one level of redundancy and most maintenance and repairs can be carried out on tour, with the help of the fully equipped workshop onboard. Getting the systems design and installation right reduces maintenance and significantly improves life on board. At Arksen, our systems team have been responsible for developing literally hundreds of commercial systems for vessels that range from high speed ferries to Superyachts.
Using common parts where possible, selecting suppliers with excellent worldwide distribution networks and ensuring adequate storage for spares, are important design considerations. The choice of aluminium is driven not only by its outstanding performance in this type of vessel but also because it’s simple to repair and you are more likely to find a welder than a GRP specialist in the far reaches of the globe.
The design has been influenced by our own experience of spending many hours crawling around yachts trying to access heads, engines, generators and systems that for some reason are virtually impossible to get to. By ensuring that most systems terminate in one location, all plant and machinery are easily accessible, all wires are routed in trunks and not cable tied together and that all fuses are centralised, time and money is saved throughout the life of the vessel.
We have partnered with some of the best commercial boat builders in the world; companies who are used to designing, integrating and delivering industrial grade systems. Driven by commercial necessity, these are normally relatively simple, functional systems designed for reliability. A complex system is not one that is more technically advanced, but one that is most likely not meeting its functional need. Our view is to cleverly integrate our advanced systems into our explorer vessels in a way that enables ease of maintenance and simplicity of use.
As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Our design team has not tried to emulate or chase an existing market but to define a market for a new breed of explorer. Our vessels have authentic capability.
Although we would never let it compromise the function of the vessel, aesthetics are still a significant element of the design process. That is why we work with Humphreys Yacht Design, one of the world’s leading naval architects, who have helped design the Arksen series. Getting the perfect balance between form and function is the ultimate gold standard of design.
Life is too short to have an ugly boat.
Designing for our core owner
We focus our product development efforts at our core customer group – the adventurists, the explorers, the risk takers and the scientists researching the Arctic seas. These people are our ambassadors, the innovators and test pilots who help develop our products and use them to extremes.
At Arksen we are building explorer vessels with purpose. We seek to inspire others that the ‘oceanic poles of inaccessibility’ are accessible for all and instil in people the importance of exploring earth’s waters to greater understand our impact on them. By ensuring that our vessels can perform safely, reliably and predictably, even in the harshest conditions in the wildest and remote parts of the ocean, we hope to change the individual’s view of what is possible.
The Arksen 85, for example, has unique capabilities; ice-strengthened structure, exceptional sea keeping, in a calm sea at 7knts the power requirement is just 12kw, offers 6000+ miles of cruising on a single tank of fuel, 1.5m draft and industrial grade systems engineered for minimum maintenance, which make the most demanding adventures possible.
Efficiency and Speed
As an example, the Arksen 100 is expected to be so efficient through the water that a 15hp engine would propel it along at 5 knots in a calm sea. High average cruising speeds are also essential for reducing weather-related risks and improving comfort and safety whilst at sea.
We want you to enjoy those virtually untouched destinations and not suffer from range anxiety, to be in the moment when the Aurora borealis dance across the night sky and not have your head down planning your next stop to refuel. This coupled with storage for up to three months at sea means your adventure of a lifetime is easily accessible.
The Sound of Silence
This is preferable to marine life and mortals alike. We set ourselves the target of being underway at 10knots at 40 dB or lower – which is about times louder than a pin dropping or the same sound level as the British Library on a good day.
However, even that is too loud sometimes. When exploring the Norwegian Fjords or the west coast of Greenland we expect something much closer to silence. Our vessels are powered by hybrid diesel electric propulsion systems with multiple generators powering batteries that drive electric motors connected to the prop shaft. This is the same approach that has been used in hybrid cars for many years and facilitates a number of significant advantages; the multiple generators come on line as the power load increases and each generator runs at peak efficiency, saving fuel and reducing ambient noise because of better sound insulation.
Better still this approach enables the batteries that are between the generators and the motors to be charged very efficiently. As a result, our vessels offer up to 20 hours of silent cruising under battery power alone. In the future, as regulations tighten up on pollution and noise, we expect all long-range motor vessels to have this functionality – but for now, this is another uncommon feature of the Arksen range.
With a view to maintaining watertight integrity, rather than risk damage to the hull structure, in the event of a serious impact Humphree’s carbon fibre fins are designed to shear off, and they can be rapidly replaced (even underwater) with the spare fins that all Arksen boats are issued with.
Stabilisation; flopper stoppers
The primary electro-mechanical stabilising systems; the gyro and the zero-speed fins, receive belt-and-braces backup from flopper-stoppers, a long established manually deployed system that can be used variously as an emergency fall-back, as a zero-power option, as a supplement to the other systems, and as a completely soundless option in silent anchorages.
Recovery from Capsize
This may be a valuable time saving device, allowing an owner to have their vessel where they need it at a given time without having to invest weeks or months of their time. This approach would allow the vessel to cruise at low speed, saving fuel. More significantly, robotic sailing devices could contribute to monitoring of environmental, ecological, meteorological, hydrographic and oceanographic data – all things that we are passionate about.
True ocean autonomy has been hampered by poor communications, however this is now changing; Inmarsat recently launched its third Global Xpress satellite to provide broadband data almost anywhere in the world. This is a game changer for the concept of “uncrewed” ships navigating the seas. Changing winds and sea conditions also presents a considerable challenge for short and long-term route and stability planning, collision avoidance and boat control. Through partnerships, Arksen aims help solve some of the truly complex and multi-disciplinary challenges that lie ahead for boat designers, naval architects, systems/electrical engineers and computer scientists.
Our approach to partnerships is simple to write but often hard to achieve; we find companies and individuals that we like, respect and we form long term partnerships that allow us to problem solve, invent, build and support our products together over their lifetime.
At the core of this approach lies our relationship with our owners and our commitment to them to provide extemporary customer services and striving to make their lives as simple as possible. This starts with the online systems for technical documentation and FAQs through to providing hands on and in person support. Utilising our established global network services, we can support our vessels no matter where they are in the world.
In building the Arksen business we have sought to partner with like-minded companies which share our vision for a sustainable marine future using pioneering technologies that we believe will transform the marine industry over the next decade.
The companies we have partnered with have invested significantly to bolster the British marine industry, built and delivered a huge volume of commercial and pleasure vessels, driven major innovations in autonomy, hybrid marine propulsion systems and monitoring technology and designed race winning performance sailing yachts. Each of them has focused on nurturing staff, running apprentice schemes and prioritising environmental wellbeing whilst delivering exceptional quality.
We are pioneering a new class of vessel that has a number of major engineering firsts built in. Many of our owners don’t actually know exactly what they need on board, or whether the autonomy or maintenance control systems are nice to have or essential.
As Henry Ford said, “if you wait for the customer to tell you what to do, you’re too late. My customers didn’t want a model T, they wanted a faster horse.”
Finding the right partners to collaborate with to help bring the Arksen vision to life has been and will continue to be critical to our success, it’s this collaborative model that allows us to deliver our owners a unique, ground breaking product.
Surround yourself with positive people, and you can change people’s perceptions of what is possible. Not only that, if you surround yourself with people that challenge you and question your decisions, it forces you to think more in-depth about the real cost of what you are trying to achieve. People either lift you or drain you, choose wisely.
Our build yard is able to draw upon four decades of experience in both high-end leisure boatbuilding and commercial shipbuilding sector. No other type of vessel benefits more from combining the disparate skills that these two disciplines encompass than the intrepid explorer vessel.
Our previous responsibility for refitting 60 metre naval vessels – whose proprietors do not take kindly to operational downtime – has directly informed our approach to the interrelated threesome of reliability, accessibility and system redundancy. On any boat, however reliable and highly specified the core systems are, poor accessibility inevitably leads to neglect and eventually to unreliability. So, accessibility is key. With this in mind, every single aspect of the engineering installation is fully modelled in 3D before a single electrical cable or pipe or item of machinery is installed. That process eliminates the usual space planning and accessibility conflicts that many builders frequently try to resolve during the build, when compromise becomes inevitable.
Exemplary accessibility encourages proper servicing and checking, and consequently greatly increases reliability. However, some items are so mission critical that backup systems are deemed prudent. An example on the Arksen vessels is the pumps powering the steering system. More unusually, the Arksen team has taken an extraordinary approach to its stabilising systems.
Where most boats rely on a single system, the Arksen vessels have three. The principal system comprises big zero-speed fins, but this is augmented by a small gyro, to provide even more effective stabilisation at rest. These electro-mechanical systems receive belt-and-braces backup from flopper-stoppers, a long established manually deployed system that consumes no power and can be used for silent operation in quiet anchorages. Furthermore, rather than risk damage to the hull structure, in the event of a serious impact, the carbon fibre fins are designed to shear off, and they can be rapidly replaced (even underwater) with the spare set that all Arksen boats are issued with.
Special attention has been paid to the insulation materials and the effects of extreme cold on the systems engineering, vital considerations for vessels venturing into the ice. For example, the contents of tanks can freeze if they are not adequately insulated, and in extreme circumstances they may have to be heated to prevent icing.
The advent of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) led to a paradigm uplift in manufacturing accuracy, allowing concurrent manufacturing of different elements of the boat. Our yard leverages this benefit by assembling the interiors off the boats in a dedicated manufacturing facility. This approach gives the boatbuilders unmatched access to all sides of the furniture modules, the opportunity to install secondary systems more effectively, and the ability to apply the final finishing touches to the modules more proficiently on an upholsters bench or in a dust free paint booth. All told, the end result is a far higher quality product.
It is also fitting that the sheds in which we build the Arksen vessels are the same sheds that were used to build the Sunderland Flying Boats, the most powerful and widely used flying boats of their generation.
It reflects about 80 percent of the light that strikes it and almost nine-tenths of the heat that reaches it, which is why astronauts’ space suits have an aluminium coating which prevents extreme heat loss and as well as gain. Using the same principal, it can help keep a room warm or cool. Marine grade aluminium alloys are also, pound for pound, stronger than structural steel. It is the very best material for building explorer yachts.
The timbers we use for the interiors come from sustainable forests and are ethically sourced. The metals that we use for the fabrication of the vessel are indefinitely sustainable and infinitely recyclable.
Find out more about our interior design onboard the Arksen 85 here.
Sustainability underpins everything we do at Arksen, and as such we have to ensure that any action taken is viewed through this lens. We understand that this not only relates to the design and building of our products but also internally and throughout our chosen partnerships. Therefore, a clear set of sustainable working practices are distributed and understood across the company in order to remain transparent. Sustainability is not just a messaging pillar we use as a marketing tool, it is a core belief and although we understand our own limitations, we must take steps in the right direction.
This is a significant task in a large vessel because of the vast array of components and suppliers. Our approach is to partner with manufacturing and engineering companies that themselves have holistic environmental and recycling policies and to work with them to ensure the integration of all the components does not unduly hinder end of life recycling. Beyond that our choice of construction and fit out materials starts from the premise that they must be sustainable at source and easily recyclable at the end of life.
We believe in and continuously work towards a number of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At Arksen we understand that contributing to achieving the SDGs is not only a responsibility but also a business opportunity and we will deploy the goals to shape our own internal targets and integrate sustainability into our core business strategies.
We are also working hard through the Arksen Foundation to partner with existing and upcoming organisations who are committed to adding to the knowledge of and reducing the adverse impacts on our environment. We have already partnered with adventurescience.org which leverages the skills of the outdoor adventure community to gather difficult-to-obtain data at any scale, in any environment, oceanfutures.org which inspires and educates people to act responsibly to protect our oceans and seabed2030.gebco.net which brings together all available bathymetric data to produce the definitive map of the world ocean floor by 2030 and make it available to all.
Also, we are working with the Environmental Science Department at Portsmouth University, the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton University and we are exploring collaborations with The European Space Agency (Copernicus project).