Explorer yachts under 100 feet have become the rage for owners who want a solid, seaworthy vessel to see the world, without the headaches of a large crew and other expenses that come with a larger superyacht. During their first years on the market, many mini-explorers looked much more robust than they really were, jellyfish wearing shark skins. Now that a number of custom shipyards have entered the expedition sector, mini-explorers can be built with ice-class hulls, redundant systems, and other hard-core cruising features that can be the difference between pleasure and disaster when one is really off the grid.
Van der Valk’s Explorer 28M is one of the more successful arrivals. The Guido de Groot design carries a new look that falls somewhere between the Dutch builder’s 82-foot Explorer and its 121-foot Santa Maria T expedition yacht. The 28’s raised-pilothouse design leaves the upper deck free of an exterior helm station, while also providing serious internal space for navigating in rough weather.
The 92-footer is actually the owners’ second Van der Valk, but their first explorer model. They plan to embark on months-long transatlantic and transpacific voyages. The yacht is built of aluminum, with a displacement hull powered by twin 1,650 hp MAN engines. The Explorer will have a top speed of 20 knots and 17 knots at cruise speed, highly respectable speeds for an expedition yacht. The boat will also have a VEEM VG145 zero-speed gyroscopic stabilizer for onboard comfort and two 32 kW Northern Lights generators for power, two great options that deliver comfort no matter where the yacht explores.
The five-stateroom interior features a forward master suite on the main deck with a large en-suite bathroom and separate his-and-her closets. Two twins and two doubles are on the deck below. The yacht also has quarters for three to four crewmembers.