For broker Matt Pinckney, these represent an important distinction. 'You don’t have to have an explorer yacht to explore,' he says. 'Exploration yachting is an owner's mindset. It's an adventurousness of spirit, a desire for owners to take their families to far flung places to learn about the planet, to appreciate the richness of what we have and how keenly we will mourn its loss if we don't alter course.'
Again, this is a known and growing phenomenon. Organisations like Nekton can pair marine scientists with yachts that have a spare berth, are between charters or even for clients who want to spend their holiday assisting with scientific research, learning about the ocean and the life in it. Perhaps this is how the next generation of passionate and committed naturalists will emerge?
Pinckney knows explorer yachting is not a mainstream pursuit. 'Ninety-five percent of yachts cruise the Mediterranean in summer and the Caribbean in winter. The market for explorer yachting is still fairly niche but there is an increasing number of tenders and toys being built for yachts to increase guests' options in hard to reach areas. The development of personal submersibles, custom rugged tenders, over-snow and all-terrain vehicles make going to these remote places more fun as clients can do a lot when they get there.'
What have we learned about explorer yachts? First, they're not for everyone because most clients use their yachts to relax in comfort, warmth and privacy. Explorer yachts are for the endlessly inquisitive, those who won't choose the path most travelled but will strike out on their own in search of original, often challenging experiences. Owners of explorer yachts want to learn, about their environment and perhaps also about themselves and their place in the world. In that respect explorer yachting has remained true to the course set by Cousteau and CALYPSO all those years ago.