News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int
Sail-World.com : Southernmost sailing voyages - who really has the record?
Southernmost sailing voyages - who really has the record?

'SY Morning, barque-rigged steam yacht'    .

Recently a Ukrainian/Russian sailing boat, the 98ft steel-hulled Scorpius reached 77 degrees south and claimed a world record. This was greeted by a storm of protest from our readers, one of whom pointed out that in 1965 a tiny Moth was sailed at (but not to) 77.5 degrees (See Sail-World story and photo). There were other claims too. Andrew Troup here corrects the records.

There have been only a handful of voyages by yachts south of the 77th parallel. These have all taken place in McMurdo Sound, in the Ross Sea. Until now, that has generally been the southernmost place where open water has been available, with the possible exception – depending on the extent of the ice shelf – of a location in the vicinity of Roosevelt Island, about six hundred miles to the east.

The Ross Sea was discovered by James Clark Ross in 1841. Having penetrated through the pack ice at the northern extremity with his ships, the Erebus and the Terror, he looked into McMurdo Sound. He named it McMurdo Bay, not realising that the mainland was not connected to Ross Island except by the Ross Ice Shelf, which he (and Scott and Shackleton after him) called the 'Great Ice Barrier'. He recorded his southernmost position as 78 deg 11' S, but neither of his vessels could be considered a 'sailing yacht', either by the limited use of the term at that time, or in the broader sense in which it has since come to be applied.

I cannot pretend to present a complete list of sailing yacht voyages. I can only set out those I am aware of. However I'm confident there have been few if any visits in the 20th century additional to the two I will mention, having checked the very comprehensive list of all known sailing yacht visits to the Antarctic up until 2000, compiled by one of the people best qualified to be considered a 'local', namely Sally Poncet. This has been added as an appendix to 'Southern Ocean Cruising', which is available free as a pdf on the web, at www.era.gs/resources/soc/SOC_web_v2.pdf

It now seems inevitable that the Ross, Ronne and Filchner ice shelves will start to retreat southwards due to global warming, on their way to probable eventual disappearance. The human failings which led to that warming seem likely to be exploited by people pushing yachts further south than has hitherto been possible, in search of records and recognition. Although the retreat is not yet noticeable on the Ross ice shelf, there have been three such voyages in the last two years, roughly half the total from the entire era of humans in the Antarctic.

Scott’s sailing ship, the Discovery -  .. .  
However, let's return for the moment to the first 'yacht' visit by Captain Colbeck, in 1902-3. He commanded the 140' steam yacht, the 'Morning', a support vessel for Scott's ship 'Discovery', originally built as the Norwegian whaler 'Morgenen' for high latitude work. On her first visit she was brought up about 10 miles short of Winter Quarters Bay, where Scott's ship was iced in. They sledged supplies to her across the ice, and left a depot of coal on the glacier tongue of Mt Erebus. Unable to break out that summer, the 'Discovery' stayed for a second winter, while the 'Morning' – with great difficulty – broke through the ice at the head of the sound in order to go back New Zealand and resupply.

She returned in the summer of 1903-4 (along with the Terra Nova, a small steamship). This time, the field ice was heavier (nearly half a metre thick) and extended further north, bringing them up short about 18 miles from the 'Discovery' (around which the ice had thickened to nearly 5m). However 'Morning' and 'Terra Nova', after weeks of arduous work, broke a channel through into the Sound with the help of explosives and even more by significant swell, arriving periodically from the Ross Sea. This arose because the latter was much more free of pack ice than in the previous seasons. The 'Discovery' had meanwhile managed to free herself from the ice, and all three vessels were able to extricate themselves and return safely to England.


So, for the record, the yacht 'Morning' made it as far south as 'Winter Quarters Bay', in 77 deg 51' S (NZ14901), in 1904.

The next yacht to sail in that location was considerably smaller: a 3.4m Moth sailing dinghy, 'Tiny Too' sailed by Lt. Commander Steve Cockley, but she neither sailed to nor from the location.

Moth Tiny Too sailing in McMurdo’s Sound in Antarctica in 1965 -  .. .   Click Here to view large photo

The second true visit by a yacht, ninety years later in 1994, was a little shorter at 36m, a little wider, had more powerful engines, considerably longer range, and was more strongly built even than 'Morning'.

This was Jean-Louis Étienne's 'Antarctica', which as the name suggests, was purpose-built. Subsequently renamed 'Seamaster' under Peter Blake, now 'Tara' in his honour. Étienne's purpose was scientific; they climbed Mt Erebus from their anchorage in Backdoor Bay, in 77 deg 34' S, (at the 'back door' of Shackleton's Hut) The crater interior was much disrupted by recent activity and they were unable to reach the lava lake on the crater floor, but they were able to collect gas samples from the volcanic crater emissions, which a previous expedition had not been able to do.

Antarctica-Seamaster-Tara -  .. .  

The ice in the Ross Sea was unusually compact that year, causing the vessel to spent more than three difficult weeks traversing it.

They were trapped in the pack ice for days at a time, trying to find nearby passages by observing the colour of the sky, which is often darker when it reflects a lead in the ice. On one occasion, the vessel was unexpectedly able to follow in the wake of an American icebreaker. Refer 'Expédition Erébus' Editions Arthaud (1994)
also http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Erebus

On the face of it, it seems remarkable that nobody had been inspired to try to follow the Morning's example for the best part of the twentieth century.

There are good reasons:

There is not much there to attract a private vessel.

The ice-free period is too short, too unpredictable, and too late in the season, to be an attractive proposition for anything other than a fleeting, opportunistic visit.

Finally: the sound is a dangerous cul-de-sac in terms of ice entrapment, with the entire Ross Sea as a potential storage area for mobile ice.

There are no safe anchorages or berths available to private vessels, particularly for a fixed keel yacht which cannot be hauled into the shallows, out of reach of movable ice.

Strong currents can bring large concentrations of floating ice southwards along the eastern shores of the Sound, even against the wind, subsequently curving and exiting towards the northwest

Strong katabatic winds can rake the anchorages from nearby glaciers, occasionally exerting forces comparable with severe tropical cyclones.

The third and fourth sailing yachts to enter the Sound were the 'Berserk' in 2011, and 'Nilaya' in 2012. The circumstances of these voyages were controversial and verifiable details have not been made public. However it seems that while neither vessel went south as far as Winter Quarters Bay, they apparently got within ten or twenty nautical miles. Berserk, in particular, was seen anchored in Backdoor Bay (see above for latitude) shortly before she sank with all hands in a severe storm.

Berserk in Backdoor Bay shortly before she sank, when the captain of HMNZS Wellington responded to their radio call begging for cigarettes, with the nearest thing he had - a cigar! - photo by New Zealand Defence Force/HMNZS Wellington -  .. .  

The stated purpose of 'Nilaya's trip was to find out what happened to 'Berserk'. Having found nothing, the vessel has been renamed 'Berserk'.

Nilaya at anchor. Source www.nilaya.co.nz -  .. .  

The next visit was only weeks behind 'Nilaya', a 30m Ukrainian yacht called 'Scorpius', under captain Sergey Nizovtsev. She reported having reached 77 degrees S, but seems to have been unaware of previous visits, as she claimed the furthest south record for herself.

Scorpius -  .. .  

As this article should make clear, she cannot claim to have been first, smallest, or largest, let alone furthest south.

Did you like this article? If you are not a Sail-World subscriber already, did you know that you can keep up with all the news from the world of the cruising sailor with a weekly news hit? It's totally free, as all our income is from the advertisers.

Once you subscribe, all the non-racing news comes to you in one easy to read news magazine, right to your inbox. AND it's up to date, so you don't have to wait for the end of the month to find out what's going on. You can even subscribe a friend. Click here now!


by Andrew Troup

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=96056

11:15 PM Fri 13 Apr 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Adventure Sailing

Related News Stories:

16 Apr 2012  Matt Rutherford around the Americas solo - almost home
07 Apr 2012  Amundsen's North West Passage - not just a difficult sail
02 Apr 2012  'Wild Viking' Jarle Andhøy detained by Chilean Navy
01 Apr 2012  And the most southerly-sailing boat ever is...
31 Mar 2012  Oldest female solo circumnavigator to arrive Hobart after 55 days
26 Mar 2012  Sailing the Pacific to save the Dolphins
24 Mar 2012  Ukrainian yacht crew in Antarctic record - and more to come
04 Mar 2012  Oldest female solo circumnavigator off to the Southern Ocean again
27 Feb 2012  Youngest solo circumnavigator - school but no Netherlands
27 Feb 2012  Tearaway Norwegian sailor departs Antarctic with 'new questions'
MORE STORIES ...






Cruising USA









The Galley Guys take on the Vancouver International Boat Show by Greg Nicoll with Frank Leffelaar and Friends,


Are you ready to enter that marina? by Captain John Jamieson, Florida










Remember to properly dispose of obsolete distress beacons by Australian Maritime Safety Authority,




World ARC fleet bids farewell to Bali by World Cruising Club,














World ARC crews in Bali by World Cruising Club,


Could your sailing navigation use a tune-up? by Captain John Jamieson, Florida








The Boat Cookbook by BoatBooks,








World ARC fleet now arriving in Bali by World Cruising Club,










Pack this sailing gear for 'hands-free' lighting
Salty Dawg Rally Seminar Series planned October 8 in Annapolis
Europe tightens up on skippers competency certification
World ARC fleet departs Darwin under full sail
NOAA expedition discovers ship’s timepiece silent for nearly 200 years
Blue Planet Odyssey - Northwest Passage gate opens
A Cruising Guide to the Dominican Republic 6.0 now available
Africa Europe Challenge introduces 'Spectator's Package'
Niagara-on-the-Lake, a popular cruising destination in Canada
The crowd-pleasing comforts of catamaran cruising
'Sailing Stones' of Death Valley seen in action for the first time
20 coral species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act
A case of crossed wires? A shocking situation!
OHPRI Teen Summer Camps make a splash
How amazingly awe-inspiring the Arctic really is
Boaters urged to attend anchoring meetings next week in Florida
New atlas provides thorough audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean
Canal Boating in the Alsace with the Galley Guys
World ARC fleet arrives in Darwin
Timeless Tonga - Charter sailing in a Polynesian paradise *Feature
A fine conclusion to the ARC Baltic 2014   
Where in the world are our strongest corals?   
Incredible efforts to save yacht from being lost at sea   
ARC Baltic fleet visit six countries and six capitals in six weeks   
Helen Island, Palau -a beautiful and unique place   
Barnacle Busting   
From Penguins to Polar Bears   
Cornell turns back from the North West Passage   
Polar research: Six priorities for Antarctic science   
Missing German tourists in the hands of Abu Sayyaf Group   
NCI granted dedicated VHF Channel   
Positive news for cruising boats in Greece   
Bivalves' ability to clean chemicals from waterways   
Are You Sailing with 'Weak Links' in your sailing rigging?   
Week-long cruise turns into 16-year round-the-world voyage   
World ARC fleet cruising the Coral Coast   
Yacht penalized for calling unannounced into Port Resolution   
Galley Guys on the Malty Seas   
Blue Planet Odyssey - Beset in Arctic Bay ice + Video   
Garcia Yachts Exploration 45 - Jimmy Cornell's newest adventure   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT