Skip to main content


Explorer Divine

Unblemished textures, refined flooring, pearlescent décor and just an overall bright luster about itself, this Japanese-made charter yacht has a certain magic about it that warps time back to a more vintage place.

The sun was as hot as you can imagine it to be at Ao Po Grand Marina and it was working overtime to test the resolve of our party that was perusing the sights at the Thailand Yacht Show last December. I can still remember how we somewhat, stumbled upon this magnificent seafarer. There she was moored right at the end of the showcase, big, blue and bright, dwarfing many of the other boats docked. We had walked passed her initially on to another yacht, the Lauren L, and on our way back up to the yacht show’s main area, we decided to see if we could get passed the “By Invitation Only” sign.

A quick enquiry and exchange of credentials, and we were escorted up on to her beige-coloured decks by Ms. Tiah Hwee. With the friendliest of demeanors, she led us on a pleasant tour all around the massive charter yacht. Within moments, all of us from the team wre captivated by the sheer warmth of this boat’s interior. The yacht’s name? Northern Sun.

Operated on behalf of her American owners by Burgess Yachts, the Northern Sun is a unique yacht from start to finish, at least in my eyes. She first took to Asian waters back in 1976, after being built and sworn-in at the Narasaki Shipbuilding yard in Japan. They’re far from the biggest and most glamorous of builders unlike the Dutch, Italian and German names, but the vessels that the Japanese craftsmen and women have put out are worth a second look. Of course, with the way the economy is in this day and age, the humble folk from Narasaki delve into other businesses although, still very much in the naval industry.

At the time of her sea birth, this 50-metre long yacht was named “Northern Light”. The name somewhat expresses her capabilities as a no-nonsense expedition boat. That’s right, she was built initially as a long range, sturdy explorer to take on some of the toughest waters on this planet. As Hwee then educated us along our tour, she was refitted between the years 2005 to 2008. The extensive refurbishment was carried out at HYS Yachts, up in their shipyard facilities in the Philippines. 

As we visited its many rooms, I couldn’t help myself but wander away from the group and take a closer look at what this ship had to offer. A pearly and cosy sight, all of its staterooms, from the master to the three double and two twins, were tastefully furnished. All of these cabins are situated on the lower deck. The full beam master stateroom is grandly finished with exquisite drapes and is well-maximised in terms of layout and spaciousness. The king-seized bed makes the focal point but the adorning book shelves gives off an understated feel that says this is not your regular party yacht. As I trod along its castle-like passages and corridors, I then sampled a taste of the two double staterooms with their own queen size beds, one with an additional Pullman berth even. To call all these five-star in my opinion, would be to dull the experience. Nothing but first-class wood trims and polished silver greet guests in these living spaces. All in all, the six rooms accommodate a total of 12 guests in exceptional comfort.

With each step I continued to sink into her firm and solid flooring, I began to recognize the distinct age in her rudders. The sumptuous wood panels are masterfully fitted and placed that one cannot help but notice the bespoke element in the Northern Sun’s belly. As I got lost further in her pleasant maze of stairs and doors, I realised that perhaps this is a yacht for the quaint experiences, one that does more for loved ones and business meetings of the like.

On the main deck, the salon is a carefree setting I thought to myself as I noticed the Yamaha Clavinova engulfed by a certain airiness granted from the deck’s panoramic windows. Further around, the main deck also houses a simple yet enjoyable shaded area, ideal for those casual afternoons and evenings when cruising past some shallower waters where the scenery leans in a lot closer. The sundeck also came off as the perfect place to kick it back with the right amount of seats, tables, its own service area and spa pool. Point to note though, the Northern Sun is a confident yet spirited cruiser, clocking a casual 10 knots when she allows her passengers to sink in the sights and a maximum of 12.5 knots at full whack. This she accomplishes up to a range of 10,000 nautical miles from her 175,000-litre fuel tanks. 

Not much of the technicalities invade in on the comfort side of things. Her hull is of steel make while she carries an aluminum superstructure that features an ultra-modern stabilization system that works seamlessly to reduce roll motion effects. This in theory, promises an ultimate sense of comfort out on a charter vacation.

As vintage and as classic as she came off, the Northern Sun housed a host of trinkets that give it the balance of youth and lively. Within her confines, she houses a 23ft jet engine tender that serves one drive and six passengers. There is also a 23ft RIB tender as well that serves the same amount of souls. She is also equipped with two laser sailing dinghies, two SeaBob, five driver propulsion vehicles, six set of scuba equipment, nine kayaks, a water ski and one inflatable slide at 5.5-metres long which blows out from two decks high on the bridge deck out into the ocean. The list of things that lay hidden in this explorer goes on still, with gym equipment also available on board, as Hwee shared how her owner is an avid fitness buff.

Once we toured all of her nooks and corners, we were taken to the top-most portion on the Northern Sun, and there we gazed out onto the surrounding Thailand Yacht Show taking place below us. There, at one of the tallest points overlooking the entire grand spectacle, it struck me still that this ship is all about her glorious, old-soul charm that rests on a proven hull. The classic tapestry, the spell-binding mix of stately ornaments and finishes yet with the gismos and contraptions to have loads of fun, the Northern Sun just came off to me as a proper boat to take my family and loved ones out on a week-long cruise somewhere in South East Asia over Christmas. What a getaway that would be surely and what a boat to sail on when the time comes.

Images: Burgess Yachts

Share this:
Close Menu