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Stranddeko meets Beach Explorer Landyacht meets Offroad

Marilyn has certainly seen a lot in the last few days! The motorhome world is a big one, and there are plenty of other types of mobile accommodation alongside our beautiful liner. And that’s how it came about that Marilyn had a blind date on Rømø (the most southerly of Denmark’s North Sea islands). With an honest to goodness off-road truck. A really rugged guy with a three-day beard. Whether Marilyn was able to impress him with her shimmering good looks remains to be seen.

But let’s start at the beginning: Marco and Josi are friends who we Stranddekos have known our entire motorhome lives. The pair fell in love some time off-road and have been travelling for four years now with a self-built Mercedes 917 AK, their Beach Explorer. So now you can see, just from the name, what we have in common, the thing that binds us together despite having such different types of motorhomes: we just love the beach. Whilst our Marilyn can strike a pretty good pose as a genuine “Stranddeko”, with the truck a.k.a. “Fatty” you really can simply drive anywhere and see everything. We thought they made a fantastic, remarkable, odd couple who should absolutely get to know each other! And there’s no better place for that than Rømø – you’re allowed to drive on the beach here. You can’t get any closer.

First of all we got both the units properly ready for their blind date. A date like this, you really ought to make an effort. Going to a restaurant was not exactly ideal. ;) So we we thought that smoke bombs in suitable colours would be appropriate. Any similarity to Star Wars is purely coincidental.

Externally, you already know what Marilyn can bring: gleaming chrome, perfectly designed skin, coordinating make up with her blue applications on shimmering champagne. You just want to get in and drive off. As for him, “Fatty”, you can just see the power. Sand coloured paint, separate cabin, big off-road tyres with a huge tread. Ready for exploring rough roads.

Let’s compare a few technical facts:

Mercedes 917 AK from 1995

  • Approved for use as a motorhome in 2015
  • All wheel drive, switchable rear and centre differential locks, low-range transmission mode
  • Maximum speed 110 km/h
  • Consumption 19–21 litres/100 km
  • Permissible max. weight 7.45 t, tare weight 6.38 t
  • 9 litre engine, 170 hp
  • Length 6.6 metres, width 2.44 metres, height 3.58 metres
  • 300 litres diesel, 350 litres of fresh water, 80 litres wastewater, 50 litres gas tank



Arto 85 E from 2018

  • Exterior colour Metallic Champagne, with Shelley Blue accent design
  • ClouLine Design, Comfort package 1, Liner package, Chassis package
  • 5 m awning
  • 3 litre engine, 180 hp
  • Maximum speed 130 km/h
  • Consumption 11–12 litres/100 km
  • Permissible max. weight 5.5 t, it’s not polite to talk about a lady’s tare weight but it’s all within limits
  • Length 8.43 metres, width 2.32 metres, height 3.05 metres which is practically 34/24/34, isn’t it?
  • 6-speed Comfort Matic gearbox
  • 90 litres diesel, 200 litres of fresh water, 150 litres wastewater, 2 ×11 litre gas tanks



It’s also just nice to have such a strong bloke with us on the beach! So we can pretty much just set off with no worries. Of course it’s mega exciting, driving a new car on sand for the first time! It’s not something we do every day. First of all we checked where the towing point is and how it works. We wanted to be prepared and we’d have had great photos to show you but we didn’t want to tempt fate. And actually we didn’t need it. After a bit of practice and experience, learning where it was possible to drive, it really was no problem for Marilyn. She handled it brilliantly with her wide 18 inch tyres (255/55 R18). The “Traction Plus” button in the cab made a noticeable difference when pulling away. Although her chic aluminium rims look more like high heels in comparison to Fatty’s mountaineering boots ...! They measure an impressive: 365/80 R20.


We then left Marilyn alone for a short time and set off to enjoy a little off-road tour over a few beach tracks. It was pretty exciting (for us) when the truck suddenly lurched totally to one side because we were driving down a little hill. But okay, we understand how it works – at least by the time we get to our picnic stop at a secluded section of beach. (Don’t worry, what we’re doing is permitted here on Rømø.) But after three quarters of an hour of being rattled around we are really happy to see our land yacht coming back into view in the windscreen!!! Marilyn gives a reeeeeally smooth ride, even over the uneven sand :) oh, and before we forget to tell you: the absolute single most important accessory on Rømø: a hand brush. Otherwise you’ve got no hope against the sand dunes trying to get into the motorhome!


But let’s take a look at the interiors of our odd couple. Both of them are practically overflowing with power, giving us a completely independent motorhome life. Although the truck has more stamina in warmer climates with its compressor-driven fridge. In the end, both of them spent 4 months travelling around Morocco completely independently.

Beach Explorer:

  • 320 Ah LiPo4 batteries
  • Votronic charger
  • Votronic converter
  • two Votronic MPP solar charge controllers
  • 6 Victron Blue Energy 100 W monocrystalline solar panels (giving 600 W total output)
  • 1500 W inverter
  • on-board electronics by Philippi
  • all-LED lighting
  • 136 litre Kissmann compressor-driven fridge
  • small oven and two-burner gas hob
  • programmable diesel/forced air heating Webasto DualTop Evo 8 inc. Hot water boiler
  • 5 KCT windows, rooflight by Outbound
  • roof rack over the cab
  • LED light bar as additional headlights
  • branch deflector in square steel tube around the cabin, Fiamma Caravanstore awning
  • Timemax corrosion protection
  • semiautomatic tyre pressure adjustment system
  • seat heating (!)
  • the highlight: the original radiocassette player is still there

it’s impossible to describe the inner values of a lady … but here are a few insignificant details:

  • 3x 95Ah AGM batteries, 2x approx. 100 Watt solar
  • 2000 W inverter
  • several ambient LED lighting setups
  • a large fridge for plenty of Prosecco, a freezer and oven for the perfect housewife, any more questions?
  • Brilliant three-burner hob, looks fantastic
  • Alde 3020 hot water boiler with heat exchanger (heats up from the engine heat whilst driving)
  • 10 windows, 2 panoramic roof windows, light and friendly
  • chrome, slate, lemongrass ambient lighting, but we’re not trying to show off with the lemongrass :-)
  • AL-KO hydraulic ground stand system
  • Saphir Comfort air conditioning
  • large separate shower, ceramic toilet
  • Multimedia sound system with subwoofer, 2 x TV with twin LNB, DVB-T2
  • black leather throughout (woo-hoo, sexy!), seat heating, electric lumbar support
  • Exterior shower, large rear garage with plenty of tiedown options
  • water heating extension kit
  • Automotive Design with LED light, curved light, we think it’s unbeatable visually
  • Double floor, double glazing, exterior gas connector, etc. etc. etc.

So you can see that getting Marilyn down to the water is not that easy. But when such a beefy muscleman comes along, then you have every right to go weak, haven’t you?
When it comes to the interior living space, our Arto 85 E is of course unbeatable: comfortable, room for everyone and everything. We all meet up at ours first of all for a coffee and to warm up our fingers!
To carry on planning our travels in the evening though we head on over to get tips from the Denmark expert, so it’s off to the Beach Explorer. And we think that the self-built cabin is pretty perfect too, comfortable and above all light!

Over the next two days we can do what we do best: stand around on the beach and go kite surfing. There is a fantastic wind and with friends it’s twice the fun. Plus, the two motorhomes look incredible on the big expanse of beach, both showing their best sides!
We really start to appreciate the luxury when we can jump straight under a warm shower right on the beach after we’ve finished kite surfing. Brilliant!!!
Now that our muscles are really tired, we can enjoy an evening performance from Marco on the water. In a beautiful place that you can only get to on foot or by Beach Explorer. This is the life! Kite surfing, motorhoming, friends, fun!

We could have carried on comparing our wonderful and different vehicles for days but sadly our time together is already at an end.
And at the end we all just spend some companionable time together enjoying the beach, the wide views, the wind and the clouds. This is the way things should be!

We were also accompanied by our blogger colleagues Volker and Claudia, committed camper van drivers. They were by our side with advice, a helping hand and their camera. And of course not to forget Gemma. The set dog, so to speak.

A bit of information on Rømø:
We slept at the “Oasen Rømø” parking area. A really brilliant place, 170 (!!!) parking spaces, nicely laid out, some of them arranged around a lake. Card payment, hook ups, disposal. Water costs a couple of kroner, pay for electricity as used. Lounge. Shower, WC, sauna. Approx. €17/night (125 Kr + consumption)

Rømø is worth the journey in itself, there’s plenty to discover: great cafes, lovely quirky little shops hidden away, dunes and forest areas for endless walks and as far as infrastructure goes, everything that your heart desires. (Apart from a launderette.....) And by the way you can pay with euros everywhere here.

And: Dare to get down on the beach! It’s worth it. Just drive where everyone else is driving and then quickly park where it’s solid. Far away from the water. Just keep your eyes open! And honestly – if something really does happen and you get stuck: you’ll always find a Dane who knows someone and will go and get help. Or just talk to an expedition unit – they’re always happy to pull someone out.

Follow the rest of our Denmark trip in full as usual at:

Find out more about the Beach Explorer and his travels:

And the exclusive ‘making of’ video will soon be available on Volker and Claudia’s vlog and the website:

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