Capt. Aaron Clark shares his experience during the build and launch of Nobiskrug's 80-meter M/Y Artefact in 2020.
In the dwindling days of spring, as the pandemic started to slam doors shut, Capt. Aaron Clark decided to point 80-meter M/Y Artefact toward the Caribbean. After spending the better part of three years in Germany following the custom yacht’s construction at Nobiskrug and anticipating the cruising season in Europe would be all but curtailed, he charted a course to the Azores.
Bad weather delayed him a bit but helped test some of the yacht’s interesting features. “We sat on DP off Madeira for two weeks and in up to 50 knots of wind with no problem at all,” he says. He then managed to get into the “Caribbean bubble,” island-hopping as the owners enjoyed time aboard the yacht they had worked on since 2015 — the first metal was cut in early 2017 following 18 months of R&D. “When we did our first ocean passage, I saw so many more whales and dolphins (than on my previous boat),” Clark says enthusiastically.
The bridge has a walkaround design that allows getting right up to the glass, but that’s not necessary to get a commanding view. Just about anywhere, you can get eyefuls of the environment and with an ABB diesel-electric propulsion system combining Azipods and what ABB calls a DC Grid (the first direct-current-based energy system used on a private yacht), you can also get earfuls of the sounds of nature. Operating with two small generators or on batteries alone, the yacht moves perfectly silently. “It’s like a Disney movie,” Clark says as seabirds swoop and dive, punctuating their aerial ballet with chirps.
Born in New Zealand, Clark began his yachting career in his mid-20s but had three jobs as a captain. “I have built three boats for three people who have never owned a boat before. And two of these people have been engineers,” he says. One of the two is the owner of Artefact.
Clark is not an engineer, but he’s kept meticulous records as the long-time captain of the successful charter yacht Four Wishes. “I went back through my logbooks; thirty-six percent the time we moved with guests on board, we moved less than ten miles,” he says. “If you only move ten miles, why would you need to go faster [than] seven knots? I wanted to do a boat that made a bit more sense,” he says.
Enter the owner of Artefact. An experienced charter yacht client, he wanted to build a home on the water. Speed was not the top priority — comfort and stability were. Clark signed on for a 10-year stint as captain of Artefact, which began with the fascinating phase of developing a detailed brief with the owner. Efficiency, stability, and plenty of glass were among the main priorities. They zeroed in on an exterior concept by Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect, which was later extended and refined. They then chose Reymond Langton to create a smart interior that works perfectly with all the glass and were most impressed by Nobiskrug’s forward-thinking and willingness to go along with their complex brief. The builder of Sailing Yacht A came up with the idea of building Artefact’s superstructure primarily in composite around a steel core and bumped the overall length for optimal efficiency.
Artefact’s layout is a clever balance of outstanding guest and crew spaces. “Everyone says we want the minimum of crew, but they don’t design the boat for it,” Clark says. His operational experience is reflected in everything from a water filtration system (to clean windows with one rinse), to articulated arms to ease tender launch to a GA that concentrates crew living quarters and technical areas in one area — forward on the main deck. The crew lounge and TV room are close to crew cabins. A cell phone-free crew mess with great windows is close to the galley and a nearly full-beam pantry. Dedicated crew stairs deploy from exterior ceilings, providing a way for the crew to reach the higher deck without going through guest areas. It’s impossible to tell all in this amount of space. Suffice to say, with this project, Capt. Clark has fulfilled his goal to get involved with a yacht that makes sense — from bottom to top, Artefact is one smart yacht.
This article originally ran in the February 2021 issue of Dockwalk.