Our design philosophy lies at the core of building safe, innovative, functional, and reliable vessels, as well as overland vehicles and performance wear. 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, overland vehicle, or performance wear 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, vehicle, or wearable 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.
At Arksen we are building explorer vessels, vehicles and crafting performance wear 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 to greater understand our impact on them. By ensuring that our vessels and vehicles can perform safely, reliably and predictably, even in the harshest conditions in the wildest and remote parts of the ocean and land, 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 7000 miles of cruising on a single tank of fuel, 1.55m draft and industrial grade systems engineered for minimum maintenance, which make the most demanding adventures possible.
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 apprenticeships 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.
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 options. The principal system comprises big zero-speed fins, but this can be 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 a spare set.
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.
Sustainability is a core focus 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 Arksen Philanthropy to partner with existing and upcoming organisations who are committed to adding to the knowledge of and reducing the adverse impacts on our environment.