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Yacht technology: Will Hull Protection Breakthrough Lead to Arctic Expedition Charters?

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When the British Antarctic survey ship, RSS Ernest Shackleton was drydocked recently in Denmark, the shipyard engineers and paint specialists there to check the condition of the hull paint were stunned. The ship had spent two seasons battering her way through ice up to 2.5 meters thick – ice packed with a high content of abrasive gravel and volcanic lava. To the amazement of the inspection team, the hull coating was virtually intact and undamaged.

This was in strong contrast to the Shackleton’s previous drydocking, when almost the entire hull, bearing a conventional ice-going underwater hull coating, was practically stripped to bare, unprotected steel.

The difference lay in the fact that when the Shackleton left drydock in 2009, the hull was newly coated with Ecospeed, a glass flake vinyl ester resin underwater hull coating proven to have extraordinary anti-corrosion strength and flexibility.

The success of the new underwater hull coating on the Shackleton heralds a breakthrough in icebreaker protection.  Some observers foresee this as an opportunity for the expansion of Arctic luxury yacht charter

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Leading the way for cold-water expedition yacht charters is motor yacht BIG FISH.  This 45-meter explorer was built in 2010 for an owner who wanted a yacht that could to travel to remote parts of the world, but which also had a contemporary, open style with floor-to-ceiling windows. Designed by Greg Marshall and built at the McMullen & Wing yard in Auckland, Big Fish visited Antarctica as part of her virgin circumnavigation of the globe.

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Interest in expedition yacht charters has increased in recent years, according to industry maven Jana Sheeder of SailAway Yacht Charters.. "We see more expedition-style yachts enter the market each season," says Sheeder.  "Exploration vessels like motor yacht BIG FISH are opening the door to a new world of charter possibilities.  The new Ecospeed hull coating technology could mean even more yachts will be able to safely visit remote cruising grounds in both the Arctic and Antarctic. I can’t think of a better way to learn about nature and our endangered wildlife."


Motor yacht BIG FISH will participate in the upcoming 2011 Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.  To tour this yacht and other luxury yacht charter vessels during the show, contact the SailAway charter department at for further details.

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