Saturday, April 2, 2011

Auroux 183

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When I stepped aboard the 183-foot explorer vessel Alucia, I half expected to find Ernst Stavro Blofeld somewhere on board, ankles crossed in a comfortable chair as he stroked his white Persian cat and plotted SPECTRE’s evil reign. If you were planning to best James Bond or dominate the world, this is the kind of vessel you’d want to do it in.

For one thing, she’s damned comfortable. Light maple joinery throughout, complemented by pale wool carpets and windows that allow plenty of light inside, this explorer’s interior has nothing in common, aesthetically, with her commercial sisters where long, narrow fluorescent-lit corridors with overhead piping, and a workboat aesthetic abound. 

Staterooms are very spacious, with large windows that bring full daylight and provide magnificent views. From the airy salon, Blofeld would have a majestic view of his watery lair when he relaxed after a tough day of sociopathic behavior.

But it’s more likely Blofeld would relax on the deck above, where another salon, equipped with a massive flatscreen television, would allow him to review not only the footage from the day’s underwater projects (building an underwater headquarters perhaps, where his unsavory plans would remain safe from detection by her Majesty’s secret service?) but live action from anywhere aboard. (How’s the torturing going in the aquarium? Too small for sharks but electric eels aplenty!)

Alucia, of course, was designed for much less nefarious purposes. Acquired by Deep Ocean Quest in 2004, the former Nadir was built at the Auroux Shipyard on the Bay of Biscay in France, not far from Bordeaux. 

She was designed as a heavy lift ship with a launch and recovery platform for diving and submersible operations. One of her missions was serving as the mothership to Nautile, the small deep-sea submersible that explored so much of the Titanic wreck when it was finally located in the late 1980s.

Fraser Yachts, 206-382-9494;

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