A boyhood dream come true - sailing to Antarctica
by Des Ryan on 3 Mar 2014
In Antarctica at last SW
Greek sailor Dimitris Liaroutsos had a dream - a dream of sailing to the Antarctic continent. This article is, therefore, of a dream come true - an adventure sail across the Southern Ocean to the most remote continent on earth, the so-called, White Desert.
To achieve his dream, he left his own yacht the Armenistis and joined the Santa Maria Australis, a 66ft expedition yacht ideal for the conditions, skippered by German sailor Wolf Kloss. It was a voyage of 3 weeks passing through Beagle Channel to Drake Passage and then crossing to Deception island. From there a voyage through islands and bays of Antarctica and back to Pt Williams by mid January 2014.
Dimitris writes: Many years ago, when I read that sailing Drake Passage was the Everest for a sailor, I thought………'can I do it?' How is it going to be? I was reading how the wind blows from the West (Pacific) to the East(Atlantic), and how its speed increases passing through the narrow channel between the Andes mountains and the Antarctic Peninsula.
I read how unpredictable the wind is and how easily can reach 40 to 60 knots speed and occasionally more than sixty. Fascinating but scary. Reading that the water through this narrow channel was speeding the Antarctic Circumpolar Current as it passes through persistently and it makes things more difficult I got more scared.
Then such winds give a rise to large waves, especially south of Cape Horn where the sea is shallow and west of Cape Horn the waves can be fierce reaching 20 or 30 meters. Combine these factors with cold temperatures, ragged shorelines and stealthy icebergs, and it is easy to see why Cape Horn and Drake Passage have such a notorious reputation.
My imagination was blown..…and one day I said 'I have to do it'.The adventures of all these explorers Roald Amundsen, James Cook, Ernest Shackleton and others grasped my imagination. I always wanted adventure inspired with an element of danger, Antarctica was the right one to fulfill my boyhood fantasy.
Here we are! After 24 hours in the Passage all what has been written is true, even now that is the South Hemisphere summer you get all this feeling. Here we are with Santa Maria Australis, a heavy boat that can sail safely thru this Southern Ocean part the Drake Passage.
So in a planned three week voyage, the Santa Maria Australis ventured to Antarctica from Puerto Williams, located on Isla Navarino facing the Beagle Channel. First they sailed through the Drake Passage to Deception Island, Enterprise Island, then south to the Chilean Conzalez-Videla Antarctic Base. From there they visited the Artentine Islands, the Vernadsky Research Station, which was the southernmost point of the journey.
From there they veered north again to Peterman Island, Dorian Bay and on to the Melchior Islands, where they prepared again for the north crossing of the Drake Passage. After the crossing they arrived at the Fuegian Archipelago, then on back to Puerto Williams.
Absolutely, a dream come true, but practicality of the moment frequently triumphs: Believe me the weather has been very bad, yesterday night during our watch Christiana asked me ' have you ever sailed before with such weather and waves?' my reply ? ' NOOO'. Waves waves like a …’’ censored’’!!! Believe me, it’s extremely difficult to write considering we spend most of the time correcting typos.
Watch the splendid video below to share their experience, even just a little:
About the Santa Maria Australis:
SV Santa Maria AUSTRALIS (SMA) is a 66 foot aluminum ketch built in Gdansk, Poland. She was built in 1998 and refitted in 2004 to endure high latitude sailing conditions.
In 2006, SMAreached these southern latitudes and has since, endured twelve Antarctic expeditions as of March, 2009. She has been designed and equipped for long distance cruising in comfort.
SMA possesses CE-Certification Category A (Ocean). She is built and surveyed under the Classification of Germanischer Lloyd.
SMA is currently sailing under full service. She has the German CERTIFICATE OF SECURITY, issued by the German Seamanship Association.
SV Santa Maria AUSTRALIS can accommodate up to a total of 12 people. She sails under German flag, registered in Berlin.
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