Meet the travel agency that helps owners realize the full potential of their superyachts
The world of yachting is changing. Each year, the “milk run” from St Tropez to St Barth loses its appeal among owners of modern yachts. Just because the industry sells images of yachts with tropical decors doesn’t mean owners are limited to the confines of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Of course, there will always be a place to visit the islands, but the whole world is your oyster if you know the right people to help you navigate less traveled waters.
A company that helps yacht owners maximize the potential of their vessels, while living an unforgettable adventure, is Adventures of Cookson. One of the most distinctive companies in the ultra-luxury travel space, the company’s strengths lie in its logistics skills, global connections and the team’s ability to think outside the box to ensure that the impossible will happen, including taking a non-icebreaker superyacht. in the heart of the Arctic Circle for the first time in history.
Tom Hutton, COO at Cookson Adventures, tells me how this expedition went: “Our client had been doing the milk run for a while and he was starting to fall in love with his boat because he couldn’t see anything. New. Henri [Cookson, founder of Cookson Adventures] Said ‘we’re taking you to a cool place’. That was really the start, even before the Polar Code existed, so we brought together some world famous ice sailors and worked with the ship’s captain to make it happen.
The team set their sights on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and chartered a Norwegian icebreaker fishing vessel to dig the ice, making way for the client’s superyacht, followed by a pursuit boat. While most other companies would have simply chartered an icebreaker (which remains few in number and is traditionally much less glamorous than a superyacht), the Hutton team were able to take the client’s yacht with them so he could living the expedition without sacrificing any comfort he had become accustomed to.
A mission of this proportion was a world first. So why hadn’t this feat been attempted before? “I think people thought it was too difficult or too complicated,” Hutton says. “No one had taken a normal Mediterranean yacht and said, ‘you can use it in a different way.’ There are a few professional icebreaker yachts, like Legend, that can go and find their way there. -up, but no one thought, “I can take mine.” We’ve shown that it can be done.
“It was a very different environment,” he adds. “The seas are much more hostile than the Mediterranean or the Caribbean; you need a different kit, different clothes, different training… the boats must be adapted to take into account the impact of the ice on the deck and the engine, etc. It’s a lot of work, but it’s doable. “
And with the challenge, Cookson Adventures thrives. Another client dreamed of flying over the Galapagos in a helicopter. It sounds simple but, again, there were a myriad of challenges to overcome. Access to boats is extremely limited in the protected archipelago and the flight of private helicopters is against the rules, but with a little help from a supply ship (converted by Cookson), on which they have built a helipad, and a group of scientists, the team managed to arrive.
Interestingly, Cookson Adventures worked with the government to fund a science expedition in return for exclusive access to one of the archipelago’s most beautiful volcanoes. “In this case, the rangers had to bring the newborn turtle from the research station into the volcano. They had to carry them on foot, which was not viable because there were hundreds of them, but by using helicopters we were able to facilitate the assistance to the rangers, ”explains Hutton, explaining how the client was able to reach the rangers. rangers during the mission. . “Direct, high-impact conservation can bring about rapid and significant change. The customer can then be a part of something and feel good about helping, so everyone wins.
It’s a similar tactic the team used in Antarctica where they funded a yacht research trip in which scientists discovered a new species of killer whale. “It’s about thinking outside the box,” says Hutton. “People want to be called pioneers, explorers and adventurers, because although they may have made a lot of money, their daily life can be quite mundane. We give people the opportunity to do something that is a world first.
Hutton is currently planning a trip to a hidden archipelago off the coast of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. “This is the most extraordinary paradise that no one has ever heard of or visited,” he says. “There is no yacht support there, so everything is going to have to be brought. We’ll probably even have to send another boat to carry fuel for the main yacht. It’s a different environment that no one has really explored in this way before. But the bigger the challenge, the more fun it gets.
Organizing extreme adventures in unusual destinations is made possible by the strength of Cookson Adventures’ logistics team, which includes former military leaders and special operations officers, capable of leading complex operations in-house. They also have an incredible network of contacts and fixers around the world.
One of those contacts is Janne Honkanen, owner of a very exclusive luxury wildlife reserve in the far north of Finland. Octola is so elusive that its exact location is withheld – all I can reveal is that it sits “just inside the Arctic Circle” and is best accessible by jet. Off-grid retirement takes the traditional idea of ”luxury” and turns it around. Instead of golden interiors, you get complete privacy and standard service in a space that feels like home. A 12-bedroom private lodge is nestled in 300 acres of private wilderness – look out your window and you might spot some wild reindeer walking through the snowy forest. Together with local guides, the Cookson team organizes experiences inaccessible to other visitors, from driving on ice with the best Finnish racing driver to meeting a real shaman. Meanwhile, guests receive top-notch treatment, from fine cuisine prepared by a private chef to luxury chauffeurs between activities.
And this is another defining feature of Cookson Adventures – no matter where you are, whether you are in the Arctic Circle or in the African Sahara, there will always be guaranteed luxury; it may just seem a little different. “It’s a real world exploration that people can participate in and do in a luxurious and comfortable way,” says Hutton.