Antarctica Expeditions season 2019/2020
We have always felt at awe by the accounts of great ice explorers and sailors in the polar regions
And now our time has come. We can also go by sailboat to Antarctica!
Nightless days, blue icebergs and glaciers. Proximity to wildlife unlike any other place on Earth in frequent encounters with whales, seals, pinguins and many other birds together with landscapes and colours of all kinds.
Make the infamous Drake Passage on a sailboat!
Experience the cold of the white continent in the comfort and coziness of Fernande, the rare boat in Antarctica to have as skipper a biologist specialised in outdoor activities and education.
Why on a Sailboat?
Being on a sailboat springs the possibility of experiencing the trip in a very small group in the homey atmosphere of a totally informal environment. The flexibility on such a setting cannot be matched by the schedules of cruise ships. The tours may take place at any time and the itinerary may change instantly as new enjoyment opportunities present themselves to the group. There’s no other way to make the most out of such wonderful and unpredictable environment as Antarctica.
How long for? Three weeks
Who is this trip for?
For those who dream of experiencing Antarctica in a flexible and intimate fashion, who have an adventurer soul, who are team-oriented and in good health.
Ushuaia - Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.
Attractions: Wildlife in close quarters as nowhere else in the world. Whales, pinguins, seals, icebergs, glaciers of a deep blue hue. The isolation which makes one forget about the world. One of the last untouched places on the planet.
Sailboat: Travelling on a sailing vessel brings flexibility, chance for more intimate interactions, greater mobility for greater pleasure and the privilege of being in a small group.
Trip Schedule: We will follow a general route but the group as a whole - be it predominantly for photography, wildlife watching, bird watching, climbing or kayaking - will define where we will go, bringing as much collective satisfaction as possible. All subject to suitable weather conditions.
Safety: Sailing Yacht Fernande was built and equipped to offer great safety to her crew even in the remotest of places.
Skipper: Charlie Flesch has great experience sailing the Southern Ocean and crewing several polar yachts, including beying first mate and apprentice on Sarah Vorwerk under Henk Boersma, one of the greatest Antarctic sailors of all time.
Day 1 – Ushuaia – Beagle Channel – Cape Horn
Meet your fellow crewmembers at the dock of the AFASYN club. Luggage on board Fernande and last opportunity to shop for things you’ve just forgotten. A bit of paperwork hassle and we’re good to set sail to the east along the Beagle until we eventually turn south heading towards the Horn. In favourable weather conditions we will hit the infamous Drake Passage straight away, towards the Antarctic Penninsula. If, however, the forecast is for strong head winds or stormy conditions we will seek shelter before heading out.
Days 2 to 4 – Drake Passage
You have probably heard a lot about the Drake Passage, this 600-mile stretch of Southern Ocean separating South America from the white continent – a place where we have to be prepared for big seas and strong winds. It is possible but unlikely that weather conditions are calm. But if all goes according to plan it may get a little rough, so make sure you bring your seasickness pills. Don’t worry though, before you know it we’ll be sighting our first iceberg, yaaayyy :) – From now on whenever we sail in this area the crew will be organised in ice watches to make sure our path is clear of bergs.
Day 5 – Hannah Point
We are finally at the South Shetlands and can at last make our first landing on Livingstone Island. Hannah Point has a lovely combination of Elephant seals, blue eyed shags, giant petrels, skuas, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, and a couple Macaroni penguins (remember Happy Feet?). The first antarctic landing is always unforgettable!
Day 6 – Deception Island
This is an inactive volcano with a horseshoe shape. We will sail right into its crater. Possible attractions are visiting an old Whaling station, walking around Telefon Bay and, if conditions allow, visiting one of the largest penguin colonies in the peninsula in Bailey Head. Fingers crossed!
Day 7 – Enterprise Island
We now head towards the peninsula and put eyes on the continent. It gets colder as white and blue from snow and ice start to take over translating into beautiful icebergs and snowy peaks. That’s quite a sight. The shelter for the night has an old wreck awash which will keep us company.
Day 8 – Cuverville Island
Short walks and zodiac tours are the way to go. As we sail deeper into Antarctic waters it gets more and more beautiful as we pass along the Gerlache Strait. Have your camera always at the ready as the big mamals could be around in the shape of seals and whales. Cuverville gives us the possibility to see good variety of wildlife and to have a lovely view from the top of its peak. Observing hatching penguin eggs are a great source of enjoyment.
Day 9 – Neko Harbour
It is not uncommon to see the big chunks of a fully creviced glacier calving into the sea as different species of bird reproduce amidst lichens with bright beautiful colours giving a break to the blue and white. For the eager ones it might be possible to go for a polar swim!
Days 10 - 11. Paradise Bay
This could be the place to get quite close to the big marine mammals and we might be lucky enought to have the curious whales come check us out from only a few meters away. The Argentine and the Chilean bases could be kind enough to allow us a visit.
Days 12-13 Port Charcot
We should finally be able to sail through the infamous Lemaire Channel. Towering snowy peaks 1,000m high and icebergs stuck to the bottom. Nesting penguins and shags on Peterman Island. The iceberg graveyard which is a big maze formed by big ice guys who ran aground alongside Plenau Island. Here is one of the best spots to see the sun setting just short of midnight.
Day 14 – Vernadsky Station
This is the furthest south we will be able to get if ice and weather conditions allow. Here live the most enthusiastic group of human beings in the whole of the peninsula, if they like us we could be invited for a drink at the southernmost bar in the world.
Day 15 – Port Lockroy
This is one of the most coveted stops in every single trip to Antarctica, also one of the most beautiful, which is where the only post office in the whole of the peninsula is located. This British base is the only opportunity you will have in the whole trip to spend some money if you feel like buying souvenirs and sending post cards to your loved ones.
Day 16 – Dallmann Bay
We are sailing north now to our last stop before we head out back home. The Melchior Islands are one of the best places to spot humpbacks and, if we are really lucky, killer whales. It is possible to go up the top of the hill to have a last look of Antarctica. Unfortunately now we must put the boat back into passage mode as we prepare to head back.
Days 17 - 20. Drake Passage
We are again in crossing mode to set off back to civilization. Before you know it we will be smelling the trees from Tierra del Fuego as we sight Cape Horn. Tired and happy we enjoy our last moments before the trip ends.
Day 21 – Ushuaia
After the Horn we head north back to the Beagle and turn left to Ushuaia, trying to take in as much as we can from the last hours of our trip as we are about to disembark. A little more paperwork and we’re done. At night we have our goodbye dinner in town. It was an immense pleasure having you all on board!!!