Rowing the Atlantic

Olly Hicks, Atlantic rower and record holder, speaks to Martyn Thornton, Atlantic Solo, who is taking part in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2020 about mentally and physically preparing for such an adventure. Discover more about the Yorkshireman who is taking on the gruelling 3,000 mile journey in conversation with the Arksen Foundation’s Executive Director who has taken on a number of rowing challenges in his time.

Follow his adventure here>>

Discover more about Martyn here>>

Behind the Scenes of Project Ocean

Last month the first Arksen 85 went into build at Wight Shipyard Co. We are now pleased to share with you a quick look behind the scenes at the team of experts working on bringing the recycled aluminium Explorer Vessel to life. As ‘Project Ocean’ develops, between now and her delivery in Spring 2022, we will be sharing with you an in-depth look into the team, designs, materials and processes involved in creating a capable, long-range, eco-conscious exploration vessel.

To be kept up to date with the latest build and company developments make sure you subscribe to our newsletter and social channels at the bottom of the page.

Explorer Vessel “Project Ocean” in Build

Milestone for Arksen as their first eco-conscious Explorer Vessel goes into production.

Built from the ground up to be capable and efficient for true off-grid adventures.

Arksen continue to drive market change, by facilitating more mindful and purposeful explorations.

Less than two years ago, Arksen unveiled their innovative vision for a new wave of sustainable marine adventure. The project has rapidly gained momentum and now their first Explorer Vessel, the Arksen 85 “Project Ocean”, has gone into production in the UK. The 85 model is the ‘flagship’ of the Arksen Explorer Series which also includes the 60 and 75, with larger models in the pipeline. 

“Project Ocean” in production at Isle of Wight shipyard

Arksen design and build boats with the ability to travel to less frequented surroundings. Combining performance and functionality, the vessels are built to be robust, reliable and efficient. Owners are given the capability, comfort, confidence and independence needed to take on an adventure of a lifetime.

Project Ocean will have four cabins accommodating up to 12 explorers including a full beam master suite with multi-purpose library / study / media room / children’s cabin. She has an efficient cruising speed of 9-11 knots, top speed of 14 knots and a maximum range of up to 7,000nm. “Project Ocean” has a full hybrid propulsion package and energy management system supplied by Praxis Automation Technology. Solar capacity onboard offers up to 7kW of zero-carbon electrical power. Onboard heating and ventilation systems use thermal reclaim for improved efficiency. 

The Arksen 85 is designed to offer stability in excess of MCA requirements for unlimited operation, with 180 degrees of positive stability in cruising trim. All Arksen vessels are designed with marine research in mind. Through the Arksen Foundation, owners are invited to pledge 10 percent of their vessels’ sea time to ocean-exploration projects, allowing scientists and researchers access to the oceans to seek a better understanding of the marine ecosystem.

Production begins on the Arksen 85 Explorer Vessel

Partnerships with UK South Coast businesses are helping to bring the project to life. World-renowned naval architecture and yacht design studio, Humphreys Yacht Design have delivered the exterior design and naval architecture whilst working closely with Chartwell Marine, who provided a complete structural engineering service to meet the high levels of additional robustness and efficiency required for a serious long-range explorer vessel. The first 85 started build earlier this month at Isle of Wight based Wight Shipyard Company, who have a wealth of knowledge spanning commercial, defence and superyacht projects. “Wight Shipyard Co has built a reputation for light-weight fuel-efficient vessels to reduce both costs for our customers and lower their carbon footprint.” commented COO, Jo Daly “We have been working alongside Arksen to develop a vessel built to the highest of standards that will become a model for the future.”

Circular economy principles have been adopted throughout; from designing out waste and keeping materials in use to minimising carbon footprint and resource efficiency. It’s an approach Arksen and their partners believe, more than ever, is an essential approach in working towards a sustainable marine future. Tom Humphreys, Co-Director of Humphreys Yacht Design, “Arksen’s dedication to researching and understanding our impact on the environment will be invaluable in helping to re-shape the development of leisure-vessel production in the motor yacht sector.”

“The efficient design, sustainable technologies and long-range capabilities of the Arksen fleet are more important than ever today. We think it’s very exciting, the right product at the right time.”

The Arksen 85 “Project Ocean” in production

The Arksen 85’s hull and superstructure are built in aluminium, supplied by Norway-based company Hydro, which contains recycled material and can again be recycled at the end of the vessel’s life. The hull design is highly efficient, leading to reduced fuel consumption which equates to lower running costs and lower emissions. The interior is created by multi-award winning Design Unlimited and will use a wide range of sustainable materials including many from recycled sources. Even the soft furnishings include fabrics created using recycled plastic bottles. Mark Tucker, Creative Director of Design Unlimited, “The Design Unlimited studio have created an interior that is dynamic, functional, attractive and sustainable in both the materials used and in its on-going functionality and versatility of use.”  

The team are expecting an 18-month build schedule, with sea trials planned for spring 2022. A large portion of the “Project Ocean” sea time will be donated to the Arksen Foundation.

First frames of “Project Ocean”

Arksen was founded by Technology Entrepreneur, Jasper Smith,

“We have been working closely with all our partners to design and build a vessel to be the best in class in efficiency and fuel economy and have gained a comprehensive understanding on the procurement process and supply chain for all the components that we will use throughout.” 

“To have the first Arksen 85 vessel in production is a big milestone in our journey and we look forward to having our first boat on the water in the near future.”

Arksen is built on three key elements; the Explorer Vessels, the Arksen Foundation and the Arksen Explorers’ Club. All owners are given exclusive membership to the Explorers’ Club, which offers tailor-made expeditions and training to make the most of their vessel and explore the remotest corners of the world.

Render of the Arksen 85 Explorer Vessel

The Arksen Foundation is a partner of the Yachts for Science program, alongside Boat International, Nekton Mission and the Ocean Family Foundation. It’s estimated the human race has only discovered 9% of the species living within the ocean and mapped a fraction of the ocean floor. The Yachts for Science program offers a platform designed to help marine scientists reach new depths of the ocean, by connecting the scientists with yachts to conduct research and conservation projects.

Arksen are also sponsors of the new ‘Yacht of the Year’ category at the Ocean Awards 2021 and Jasper Smith will sit on the judging panel. The award will acknowledge vessels, their owners and/or crew that have actively helped enhance the health of the ocean.

Help Our Kelp

Photo by Jack Atkinson

Help Our Kelp x Arksen Foundation

In late August this year, the Arksen Foundation teamed up with research fellows, Dr Chris Yesson from the ZSL Institute of Zoology and Stephen Long from UCL, to survey the presence of kelp along the south coast of England. A RIB provided by Arksen was used to launch a small remotely operated tethered camera system (the Trident ROV) to survey the shallow areas of the coastline.

Help Our Kelp Campaign

Back in 2019, a survey by Sussex IFCA and ZSL was conducted with the Sussex IFCA patrol vessel, whilst towing a video sled across the deeper waters and along the flat seabed. The video was analysed and found there to be no kelp in the area (approximately 30km stretching from Pagham to Shoreham), despite it being a previous location of abundant kelp forests. It was clear that over the last 40 years, these important habitats had diminished significantly and the majority of kelp had been lost, due to storm damage, changing fishing practices and the dumping of sediment spoils by dredging boats.

This kicked off a kelp restoration project headed by Sussex IFCA as well as the Help Our Kelp campaign in September 2019, in partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust, Blue Marine Foundation, Marine Conservation Society and Big Wave Productions.

Once stretching along 40 km, from Selsey to Shoreham, the underwater forest extended at least 4 km seaward. The campaign acts to restore the vast underwater kelp forest off the Sussex coast to its previous state.

The Help our Kelp campaign has the full support of broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough, who voices the stunning campaign film. The film acts to encapsulate the environmental benefits of kelp and their necessity to ecosystems, as well as the wealth of wildlife to be found in this diverse habitat.

In January 2020, the Help our Kelp campaign had a breakthrough, with the Sussex IFCA, proposing a new bylaw that will see restricted trawling (a fishing method that involves pulling a fishing net through the water behind a boat), in a 304 km2 area along the Sussex coastline to promote kelp restoration.

What is kelp?

Kelp is the name for a group of large brown seaweeds that can form dense aggregations known as kelp forests. They are one of the most biodiverse environments on the planet and much like coral reefs, create an oasis of life wherever it grows. Kelp provides essential nurseries, habitats and feeding grounds for wildlife such as seahorses, cuttlefish, lobster, sea bream and bass.

They also absorb a huge quantity of carbon, meaning these forests are not only vital for sea life, but for climate change. Globally, kelp forests drawdown over 600 million tonnes of carbon, which is twice what the UK admits per year. They are therefore a vital tool that we need to fight the fight against climate change.

Kelp forests can also absorb the power of waves, meaning water quality is improved and coastal erosion reduced. They, therefore, have a huge impact on the world we live in and their restoration is vital to the sustainability of our planet.

Help Our Kelp x Arksen RIB

The aim of August’s 2020 survey was to view places the video sled couldn’t previously reach in 2019, due to its restriction use on the flat seabed. There had been some anecdotal reports of kelp in rockier areas, so the RIB provided by Arksen facilitated, with the use of a small ROV, to help reach these more remote areas.

With the new bylaw for restricted trawling in place, the team also wanted to establish a baseline of kelp coverage so that they could effectively monitor the forest recovery.

If kelp was found to be attached to any fixed underwater structures, such as pipes or old concrete platforms, it would be clear that kelp can still grow naturally in the area. By simply replacing rock beds along the coast, along with the trawler exclusion zone in place, a significant impact on kelp restoration could see the kelp forest start to return to the area.

Photo by Jack Atkinson

The team successfully deployed the camera system from the RIB, despite some challenging weather conditions. There were sightings of a couple of blades of Sugar Kelp, in an area south of Selsey Bill as well as a lot of ‘Dead Man’s Rope’ (brown seaweed formed into long, cord-like fronds) which is much more widespread than the previous year.

Sussex IFCA and ZSL have established from the recent survey that long-term kelp restoration is dependent on both the availability of kelp spores (to seed recovery) as well as a suitable seabed substrate, where kelp can settle and grow into its mature form. To thrive, the kelp forests need strong anchoring points so that they can withstand the ocean waves. The survey helped the team identify if the presence of large rocks was sufficient to allow for kelp growth in the area.

The access to the RIB was a key factor in allowing the team to access the more remote and hard to reach rocky areas of the coastline. The Arksen Foundation will continue to facilitate the research and monitoring of the Sussex kelp forests and are proud to support academic marine research and conservation projects, especially for conservation charities such as ZSL.

If you would like to know how you can get involved to help with the project please visit the Sussex Wildlife Website. Or if you are a vessel looking to offer time onboard to scientists please register your interest at Yachts for Science.

Sugar Kelp captured by the ROV in low visibility
Yacht of the Year 2021

We’re excited to announce that Arksen is sponsoring the brand new ‘Yacht of the Year’ category at the Ocean Awards 2021

The award will acknowledge vessels, their owners and/or crew that have actively helped enhance the health of the ocean. This could be through allowing access for researchers, conservationists and scientists, or through raising awareness of ocean issues, or through hands-on initiatives of their own. The ‘Yacht of the Year’ award is designed to celebrate the people behind the scenes who work to allow vital ocean-saving work to occur. The winner will demonstrate a commitment to ocean conservation throughout their vessel function, and the people who serve on her.

Arksen founder, Jasper Smith, will also be on the judging panel in January next year.

Entry Criteria: 
Nominees for this award must be able to demonstrate how their vessel and those onboard have provided services to enable work to occur that demonstrably enhances ocean health, either by adapting, or by equipping a vessel, which enables valuable conservation work.  

Nominees must also provide evidence of the kind of impact the research conducted has had, or could have, on ocean preservation.

Think you have what it takes? Enter your nomination here

The Ocean Awards recognises individuals, community groups, organisations and businesses that have made significant contributions to the health of the marine environment. 

An initiative very close to the heart of Arksen, we are delighted to be partnering with the sixth annual Ocean Awards and providing the winner of ‘Yacht of the Year’ with a financial donation to help further their ocean conservation efforts.

If you would like to know how you and your yacht can get involved with providing scientists with vital time at sea, why not check out the Yachts for Science project.

A Simple Journey

Photo by Alex Glebov

“The sea represents a profound step change from the chaos and busyness of day-to-day life to understanding who you really are. I’ve learned that I’m probably not as complex as I thought I was. At its most basic, I think life is quite a simple journey.” – Jasper Smith

The Oceanographic Magazine sat down to speak with our founder Jasper Smith about his deep connection with this planet’s wild places, why the marine industry needs shaking up, and what roles sustainability and conservation will play in Arksen’s long-term plans.

Read the full article here>>

Discover more about Jasper’s past adventures here>>

Oceanographic Interview

A passion for minimalistic, human-powered expeditions has taken endurance athlete and ocean rower Olly Hicks to every continent and to every ocean. A world record-breaking adventurer, his brutal ocean crossings have taught him a little bit about solitude and survival. We sit down to find out a little more about the man behind the adventures.

Oceanographic Magazine

Read the full interview with Olly Hicks here>>>

Find out more about Olly Hicks here>>>

Yachts for Science Launch

BOAT International Media and partners today announce the digital launch of the innovative ‘Yachts for Science’ project, following a successful pilot mission which explored the black corals in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia in January 2020. Coinciding with World Oceans Day, Yachts for Science, which is backed by BOAT International Media, Nekton, the Arksen Foundation and the Ocean Family Foundation, debuts a digital platform to help marine scientists reach new depths of the ocean, connecting scientists with yachts to conduct research and conservation projects.

Despite centuries of venturing to sea, the human race has only discovered an estimated 9% of the species living within the ocean and mapped a fraction of the ocean floor. The lack of access to the sea is a fundamental problem for marine scientists and conservation experts when understanding the ocean ecosystem.

To advance global knowledge of the state of the ocean, Yachts for Science will unveil a new dedicated website in June 2020 to match yachts with marine research projects to enable critical research and conservation work to progress. The aim is to continue producing findings that will inform decision and policy makers across the world while expanding the knowledge of the ocean.

Sacha Bonsor, Editorial Director at Boat International Media said: “The oceans are critical to the health of the planet and yachts are uniquely placed to help save them by offering access to often inaccessible areas. The ‘Yachts for Science’ initiative will be a leader in pioneering the exploration and understanding of the oceans.”

The first successful Yachts for Science pairing took place in January 2020 to study the black corals in the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia for two weeks onboard luxury charter yacht Dunia Baru. It was led by Dr Erika Gress and her team of four marine biologists from the University of Papua (UNIPA), Manokwari and the NGO Bionesia. The aim was to gain insights into the abundance and diversity of black corals and their role as fundamental habitat providers in Raja Ampat reefs. This study will ultimately provide information on the black coral ecology and the reefs they thrive in.

The main exploration took place in an area known as the Coral Triangle, which is renowned for the density of its marine organisms and boasts the largest diversity of corals on the planet. The topography is stunning both above and below water, changing dramatically from east to west with the north-west dominated by low lying sand atolls and the south-east by cast rock structures with large vertical walls. An abundance of colonies seem to favour the south-eastern region, where reefs were in generally in better condition than on the west side of Misool, outside the protected area. It also appears to support a high diversity of black corals, possibly including undescribed species. “We were only able to do one night dive,” recalls scientist Erika Gress, “but it was one of the best of the whole trip. Many of the marine organisms and invertebrates like shrimps and crabs that use black coral as habitat are more active at night and it was easier see them.”

Future planned expeditions include a study of deep scattering layers led by Professor Andrew Brierley of the University of St Andrews. “Deep scattering layers are almost like an outer space environment,” says Professor Andrew Brierley. “Extraordinary animals hang there in the twilight or total darkness. Lanternfish, for example, with their flashing photophores, wonderful crustaceans and giant shrimp. It will give us a completely new window into an aspect of the world’s ocean that we don’t yet have.”

There is a range of new scientific projects looking for yacht partnerships, including the search for giant manta rays or coral reef ecology post-hurricanes in the Caribbean. You can view some of the live briefs below:

 More detail on the program can be viewed here.

A full selection of the projects can be viewed here.

Arksen Origins – Peter Morton

Peter Morton, CEO of Wight Shipyard Co. discusses his sailing past, the future of yachting and why he is enthusiastic about building the Arksen Explorer Vessels.

Find out more about the Explorer Vessels here>>

Arksen Origins – Episode 2

As a team of climbers, sailors, skiers, divers, surfers and kiteboarder’s, getting off the beaten track is in our DNA and this fuels our passion for the ocean. Discover more about the adventures of two lead characters behind Arksen, Founder Jasper Smith and Foundation & Explorers’ Club Director, Olly Hicks.

“I was very lucky to do a trip sailing from Australia all the way up to Alaska on a sailing boat, and we were one of the first boats, if not the first western boat to go into Kamchatka. I was a climber and so I had spent many years climbing and being inspired by Doug Scott, Stephen Venables and Chris Bonington and these amazing mountaineers.” – Jasper Smith, Arksen Founder

Not seen the Return to the Blue from the Arksen Film series? Click here to watch it now>>