The definition of an adventurous yacht


Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, art collector, ocean activist and owner of 37m Dardanella, has spent over a decade traversing the high seas asking herself, ‘How can we approach the ocean as cultural practitioners and producers?’ What began as a private endeavour to circumnavigate the American continent by yacht soon developed into a floating think tank that looks at processes around science, conservation, policy and art.

A multitude of conservation projects undertaken from Dardanella followed. From scientists with hydrophones making recordings of the ocean and shark tagging in Costa Rica to lobbying for the establishment of marine protected areas in the Lau Islands, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Dardanella have helped to facilitate it all.


“The scientists used hydrophone recordings for their own research, but when we played them the artists’ audio in Dardanella’s ambisonic studio – comprising 34 speakers embedded in the salon – the quality of playback was like nothing they had ever heard.”


Adventure is in Dardanella’s DNA. Unlike other expedition vessels, the Vripack-designed vessel was not converted from a previous life; Dardanella was purpose-built to explore. And explore she has – since her launch in 1996, Dardanella has traversed some of the most remote, uncharted waters on earth.

Blending go-anywhere, do-anything capability with comfortable and welcoming onboard spaces, Dardanella is as unique as she looks. Her impressive 5,400nm range provides the ability to access the most remote cruising-grounds and remain self-sufficient with excellent autonomy.

Thyssen-Bornemisza’s international art and advocacy foundation, TBA21, which she founded in 2002, now includes the TBA21–Academy, a research centre solely committed to the ocean. Its main content provider is Dardanella, a yacht that she was immediately drawn to for its fishing boat-cum-explorer aesthetic. As well as plentiful artworks on the interior, the boat also wears its artistic heritage on its exterior in the form of a pixelated graphic created by a Berlin-based design studio.

Alongside ocean activism and art, Thyssen-Bornemisza is an avid diver, and Dardanella boasts a serious adventure dive operation. Highlight dives have taken place in Raja Ampat, the Galapagos and the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea, not to mention a bioluminescent night dive with marine biologist David Gruber in the Solomon Islands, which was recorded by National Geographic as one of the 20 most important discoveries of the decade – no small achievement for any boat, but another resounding success story from one of the world’s most unassuming adventure yachts.



Current name Dardanella
Design number 3702
Year of built 1996
Year of refit 2018
Length 36.88 m
Beam 8.18 m
Draft 2.5
Designer Vripack
Naval Architect Vripack
Structural Engineering Vripack
Mechanical Engineering Vripack
Interior Design Vripack
Interior Engineering Vripack
Builder Vitters
Refit yard Vitters
Type of vessel Research Vessel Yacht
Hull type Full displacement
Material Aluminium
Classification Lloyds Registered
Engine 2x Caterpillar
Speed (cruising/max) 12.5 / 14 kts
Range 4000 nm
Fuel capacity 42,000 ltrs
Fresh water capacity 12,000 ltrs
Owner & Guest 12 persons
Crew 6 persons

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