From polar bear tracking on the tundra of Svalbard to witchdoctor ceremonies in Papua New Guinea, experiential travel company Pelorus is crafting intrepid off-boat itineraries that will revolutionise yachting. Anthony Pearce reports
Pelorus’s new yachting division, which launched in June 2019, provides a fresh perspective on ultra-exclusive travel. Thanks to a new stand-alone yachting team, it can build “highly creative, yet technically minded” land- and sea-based itineraries for vessels travelling to remote destinations.
The company says that this kind of “outsourced” service will be a “gamechanger” for captains and crew who have traditionally had to manage all of the land-based adventures themselves.
Not only does it design sailing plans and anchorages, ensuring that clients are prepared to take “advantage of the best possible opportunities in each region”, but it has a network of dive experts, ice pilots, local guides, naturalists, expedition leaders and anthropologists that enable travellers to explore remote environments in a completely new way.
With in-depth knowledge of the technical aspects of the yacht industry, Pelorus can also arrange permitting, visa applications and provisioning, as well as provide high-level security protection, risk management and 24/7 medical support.
What kinds of yacht expeditions are available with Pelorus?
On trips to the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific, Pelorus can arrange for shipmates to dive down to boats that were sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Second World War. Itineraries can also include taking part in marine conservation projects, jungle hikes to waterfalls, camping, helicopter flights over active volcanoes, and exploring the Vonavona Lagoon, “the final resting place for the skulls of countless vanquished warriors”.Meanwhile, for those looking to head to Svalbard, an isolated Norwegian archipelago of frozen tundra in the Arctic Ocean, the team at Pelorus can set up excursions to the abandoned Russian mining town of Pyramiden, polar bear tracking by dog sled and snowmobile, kayaking among icebergs, abseiling into deep crevasses, and barbecues on the pack ice. There is also the option to ski tour with professional guides and dive using dry-suits to watch guillemot birds catch fish beneath the waves.One of the most unexplored and culturally diverse countries in the world, Papua New Guinea is also a compelling stop for expedition yachties. Over a seven-day cruise, travellers can engage with local tribes deep within the rainforest who will share their traditions and unique ways of life. They can swim with bottlenose dolphins, watch fire dancers and meet the Asaro Mudmen to learn the history of black magic from real witchdoctors. Over in Western Australia, the vast region of the Kimberley offers sailors the chance to snorkel with turtles, discover ancient rock paintings dating back more than 50,000 years, fish for Barramundi, dive with reef sharks, and hike around billabongs (an Australian term for an oxbow lake).Pelorus is also giving a limited number of guests the opportunity to explore Antarctica by superyacht, from €50,000 per cabin. Voyages are available on the 77.4-metre yacht Legend, which is normally only available as a full charter from €490,000 a week. The Legend is equipped for polar exploration, with everything from submersibles to helipads onboard.
How has the yachting industry changed in recent years?
Traditionally, 80 per cent of the world’s superyachts have cruised just 20 per cent of its waters. This, however, is changing as travellers become more intrepid.
Pelorus founder, Geordie Mackay-Lewis, says: “The agenda for high-net-worth travellers has dramatically changed in recent years, with experience now taking precedence over status.
“This is particularly evident in the yacht expeditions sector of our business where we have seen a significant rise in interest from owners and charterers looking and where the yacht can take them rather than how it looks. It is a platform for exploring the world.
“For these clients, it is no longer enough to just cruise the South of France or the Caribbean. They want scarcity and remoteness, tribal immersion and wildlife experiences, far away from the masses.”
He adds: “This is where Pelorus’s creative planning comes into play, helping clients maximise the ‘experiential return on investment’ on their yacht.
“A lot of yacht expeditions in remote areas are about logistics and planning, which of course are hugely important, but we overlay all of this with creativity.
“Our yacht expedition clients should be surprised daily, they should experience the destination from the air, land and underwater, and should leave having learnt a lot, given back to the community and left the environment undamaged.”