Talk about expeditions and expedition yachts almost always seems to concentrate on the polar regions. But what about cruising on the Amazon, the Orinoco, or exploring remote South Pacific islands?
Some of the most exciting discoveries, stunning waterways and unspoilt nature can be found in the tropics. Exploring the tropics however requires a whole different set of features.
We consider the following to be technical requirements that are essential for safe and enjoyable voyaging in warm expedition areas.
Air conditioning: made for high temperatures and humidity
Powerful air conditioning not only keeps travellers warm in the Arctic and Antarctic, but it also efficiently cools the interior of a yacht when travelling in equatorial latitudes and high humidity.
Water temperatures for instance in the Amazon can reach up to 36°C, putting a strain on a ship’s systems. An oversized cooling capacity system keeps engines from overheating while travelling in warm waters.
Insect filters and pollen barriers
Even the best air conditioning systems can be impaired by clouds of little insects, which are sucked up by the fresh air supply. Insect filters and pollen barriers should be a standard for any yacht wanting to explore tropical zones and rivers like the Amazon or Orinoco.
Strengthened propellers and hull
Severe damage can be caused by logs or chunks of wood floating down a river. An oversized propeller, narrow frame spacing and reinforced plates on the hull help prevent impact damage.
Freshwater production units – even in difficult conditions
Fresh water is the most important supply. A ship that can produce drinkable water from seawater, from condensate collected from the air condition as well as from silty tropical waters, fulfils an important requirement for voyaging in tropical areas.
Easily accessible water intakes
River water is often silty, increasing the likelihood of blockages in the engine cooling systems. The systems must be easily accessible for cleaning in such conditions.
Maintenance friendly technology
Autonomy is a key factor for voyaging yachts. You do not want to depend on spare part deliveries or external experts in remote areas. The engineers on board must be able to carry out maintenance and repairs, and frequently used or essential spare parts should be carried on board.
As a matter of course: highest ecological standards
Travelling to ecologically sensitive areas obliges both a responsibility and a respect towards nature. It goes without saying that a true expedition ship should be equipped with modern hybrid engines or fuel saving propulsion, incinerators for burning waste and sludge, biological sewage treatment, metal shredders for storage, cooled waste storage and sophisticated grey water treatment facilities to minimise the effect of ocean waste.
Fuel tanks without direct hull contact anywhere forward of amidships avoid the chance of fuel spillage.