Sail / Ski / Kayak Expeditions
with sailing yacht Icebird
South Georgia Island, Oct 4 - Nov 1, 2014
Antarctic Peninsula, Nov 25 - Dec 20, 2014
For contact information, please go to bottom of the page
THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME!
This is your chance to experience Antarctica as one of just 6 - 7 guests aboard the well appointed expedition sailing yacht, Icebird, where you will be wowed by the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife of one of the last wildernesses on earth. As a small flexible group we can tailor-make our adventures and adapt itineraries to satisfy even the most seasoned adventure traveller. Typically, the guests will include skiers as well as those who have joined the expedition to experience the sailing and the dazzling landscapes and plentiful wildlife of the Antarctic region, from the yacht, from a sea kayak or on shore. A cruise to this region should be on everyone's "to-do" list, but this adventure simply beats them all.
Icebird is a tough purpose built aluminium expedition yacht with creature comforts like a climate controlled pilot house that allows you to take in the 360 degree views while insulated from environmental extremes. Her powerful Aerorig, a freestanding rotating carbon rig, facilitates fast, simple and exhilarating sailing, an exhilaration matched by the soaring flight of the albatrosses as they lift off the wave tops and soar above the yacht. Adventurous guests of all abilities are catered for, (you don’t need to be an experienced sailor to lend a hand) as the yacht is easily shorthanded, and even non-sailors frequently return as seasoned veterans of southern ocean sailing.
The Antarctic Peninsula
Day 1- Join us in Ushuaia Argentina,come aboard, stow your gear, take in the safety briefings, and we set off to sail down the spectacular mountain lined Beagle Channel to the tiny Chilean Naval outpost of Puerto Williams, where the yacht club bar in a sunken ship has fascinating memorabilia from many 'larger than life' southern ocean sailors who’ve called there in the past.
Day 2- We make an early start for Cape Horn, sailing the length of the Beagle Channel, and subject to weather conditions, may land and visit the legendary Cape where an impressive monument stands mute testament to sailors through the ages, who have struggled rounding the notorious landmark. Depending on weather windows we either anchor for the night in secluded Caleta Martial, or we batten down and get ready for sea.
Days 3-5 - We head out into the Drake Passage to commence our 550nm ocean passage, where landfall will be the snow, rock and ice of the Antarctic Peninsula. We are sailing the "furious fifties" with landfall in the "screaming sixties", but thankfully the ‘state of the art’ weather systems aboard Icebird enable us to negotiate the deep lows the Drake Passage is legendary for. Usually we are able to choose weather windows that provide a safe, comfortable and fast passage across - and you’ll find that with the routine of watches at sea, the time passes quickly.
As we arrive at the Antarctic Convergence, our albatross companions leave us, - there’s a definite chill in the air, and excitement mounts as we start to look for our first iceberg.
Landfall in Antarctica High jagged peaks, overhanging seracs, huge glaciers dropping newly formed ice bergs into the ocean…… and everywhere life abounds in this icy paradise.
Perhaps your first impressions of Antarctica will make you feel that you have entered an alternative reality!
Below, we describe a typical itinerary whilst at the Antarctic Peninsula. The exact destinations and land falls depends on weather and ice conditions and may vary somewhat from the following description, but there are endless possibilities along the peninsula coast and the adjacent islands.
Day 6 - Our arrival in Antarctic waters is heralded by porpoising penguins and the fantastical shapes of weird and wonderful icebergs, with anchorage perhaps at Whaler's Bay in the sunken caldera of volcanic Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands - home to some 300,000 pairs of bustling, noisy chinstrap penguins. Perhaps we'll wash off the last few days at sea with a dip in the volcanic hot springs at Pedulum Cove. As the name suggests, Whaler's Cove was home to a large whaling fleet at the end of the 19th and early 20th century and todays remnants make for interesting exploration.
For another convenient first landfall, we slip into sheltered waters beneath snow mantled Anvers Island and head around to Port Lockroy where we drop our anchor under the ice cliffs of Harbour Glacier and visit the English historic base that was pivotal in the days of early exploration and of the fascinating Operation Tabarin, a secret wartime initiative to counter nazi intelligence.
Day 7 - 20 - Our next days merge into each other as we cruise the relatively sheltered waters of the Antarctic Peninsula and nearby islands, exploring the wild and beautiful landscape and fascinating plethora of animal life. The skiers will be dropped off at suitable landing points and those remaining on board may take to the kayaks and slip along the side of an iceberg as lazy crab-eater seals plop into the water beside you, or perhaps just drift along, wondering at the share immensity of the glacier wrapped mountains that surround you. Paradise harbour, Lemair Channel, Neumeyer Channel and many more, all offer dramatis scenery, but we will have the chance to cruise these and many other less visited places in depth. The chance to see this "last Paradise" as part of a small and flexible group offers opportunities for adventure that are beyond the realms of travel by any other means. These are only some of the highlights;
From a first land fall at Deception Island we may make our way to Enterprise Island on the Antarctic Peninsula coast, where we can tie up to the wreck of the "Gouvernor", an old Norwegian whaling factory ship which caught fire in 1912 and was run aground into the shallows to save the men onboard.
Cruising on through Errera Channel one often sees orcas, perhaps hunting the extensive rafts of penguins out fishing or perhaps the crabeater seals lazing on the floating sea ice. Heading into magical Paradise Harbour, we can anchor in Skonthorpe Cove for the night, a small indent in the ice cliffs and a favourite of old whalers who frequented these waters 100 years ago.
From Paradise Harbour, a brisk sail across the Gerlache Strait takes us into the spectacular Neumeyer Channel. For those inclined, you may jump into a kayak and enjoy the piece and majestic scenery with only the noice of your paddle plopping in the water. We drop our anchor under the ice cliffs of harbour Glacier at Port Lockroy and visit the English historic base that was pivotal in the days of early exploration and of the fascinating Operation Tabarin, a secret wartime initiative to counter nazi intelligence. Port Lockroy is an alternative place for first land fall, offering good shelter, good kayaking opportunities and some easy skiing near by.
A bit further south, we may use the anchorage at Port Circumcision on the Peterman Islands, where the French explorer Charcot spent a winter on the "Porquoi Pas" in 1909. here we visit the Adelie and Gentoo penguin and Antarctic Shag colonies and may also stop at the Adelie penguin colony at Yalour Islands a bit further south.
The Argentine Islands are particularly well suited for easy exploration by kayak, with its abundance of sea and bird life and icebergs in well sheltered waters. Here we also find the Ukrainian Vernadsky base, famous for establishing the existence of the ozone layer hole. The Ukrainian scientists are still heavily involved in atmospheric research and distillation of a particularly fine vodka! We are usually invited to join the scientists for an evening of merriment!
Day 21-26 - We start looking for a weather window for our return sail across the Drake Passage. By now all on board are experienced sailors so we will soon slip into the rhythm of ocean sailing. As we enter the calm waters of the Beagle Channel, the verdant green magic of Patagonia with its lush Antarctic beach forests, sun dappled mountains and cascades will delight senses accustomed to sea ice and snow. Ushuaia's claim to be "el Fin del Mundo" (the end of the world) will leave you sceptical as you will be forever haunted by the landscapes and thriving inhabitants of "that other world", like an alternative reality..... that lies to the South, bound by ice, but rich in life.
South Georgia Island
South Georgia Island is a remarkable sub Antarctic paradise lying in the southern ocean some 850nm east of the Falkland Islands. The rich waters of the Antarctic convergence support an astounding biomass of wildlife and the backdrop of ruggedly beautiful glaciers and mountains rising 3000m directly from the ocean provide unforgettable scenery, while the many bays and fjords ensure fascinating exploration. Its also an island steeped in colourful history and adventure.
Guests will include skiers and non-skiers. For the skiers, the plan is to make landfall at King Haakon Bay on the south-west coast, where the team hopes to follow in the footsteps of Shackleton across the island to Stomness. Underway, the team will establish camps and conditions allowing, ski some of the summits along the route.
Meanwhile, Icebird will sail around to the north coast of the island where we will eventually meet up with the skiers at the abandoned whaling station of Stromnes. During the time from dropping off to picking up the skiers, we will explore the sheltered northern coast and fjords, with its amazing scenery and wild life. After picking up the skiers, the journey will continue east on the north coast, where we will make occasional land fall for the skiers to do day ascents as well as visit sites of historical interest and stunning natural beauty.
Day 1 - Arrive in Stanley. Meet the team and spend the night on board Icebird.
Day 2 - Spend the day in Stanley. Prepare equipment and for the skiers, practice glacier crossing and crevasse rescue skills.
Day 3-6 - Sail across the South Atlantic to South Georgia. This is a 4 - 5 day, 850 nm crossing and rough weather and high seas may be experienced. Team members are invited to participate in sailing the yacht and instructions will be given.
Day 7-8 - Arrive in South Georgia and sail on to King Haakon Bay where the skiers will be dropped off.
Day 9-14 - The skiers will cross South Georgia via Shackleton's route. Icebird will sail around to the north coast and meet the skiers in Stromnes.
There will be opportunities to visit mind blowing wildlife sites, King Penguins numbering in the hundreds of thousands at rookeries like Salisbury Plains and St Andrew’s Bay, breeding Elephant seal colonies in full swing, nesting Albatrosses, even Wanderer’s with their 12 foot wing span at Prion Island, Giant Petrels, and the ever present ubiquitous Fur Seals. At times we may find it awkward landing on beaches due to the sheer volume of wildlife.
Day 15-16 - Rest day for the skiers and then ski from Maiviken to Grytviken. Grytviken is the site for the administration for South Georgia as well as a fascinating historical site steeped in the romantic days of early exploration and whaling. Its customary to share a splash of Whiskey with ‘the Boss’ aka Shackleton at his grave near Grytviken.
Day 17-18 - Exploration and ski touring in Cumberland Bay.
Day 19 - A day at the King Penguin colony in St. Andrews Bay.
Day 20-23 - Exploration and ski touring in Drygalski Fjord and the south-east end of South Georgia.
Day 24-28 - After 16 days or so of amazing experiences, we will prepare the yacht for sea and the 4 to 5 day voyage across the southern ocean back to Port Stanley where no doubt the lure of the quaint English pubs will provide a fitting venue to reflect on the trip of a lifetime.
Day 29 - Depart Stanley.
About Icebirdand Cath and Darrel
Cath and Darrel have been sailing in Antarctic waters since 2003 when they purchased Spirit of Sydney and have supported numerous expeditions including documentary makers from Discovery Channel’s Globetrekker, scientists from Oregon State University Marine Mammals Institute (tagging Humpback Whales), University of British Columbia, (Orca study), as well as documentaries, like Animal Planets ‘Steve Irwin The Croc Hunter’. Other expeditions have included National Geographic photographers, mountaineers, dry suit divers and kayaking expeditions including Andrew Mc Cauley’s epic sea kayaking expedition in Antarctica. On one of the most memorable expeditions, 13 school children from Geelong Grammar sailed aboard Spirit of Sydney and Podorange for a very memorable expedition, sailing, kayaking and ski touring the peninsula. Last season with the enthusiastic support of Spirit of Sydney, the British Alpine Club completed the most successful mountaineering expedition ever undertaken to the Antarctic Peninsula with 6 first ascents of significant mountains. www.philwickens.co.uk
After 9 years with Spirit of Sydney, Cath and Darrel have recognized a niche for expeditions where the comfort of a luxurious well appointed yacht with optional transfers across the Drake Passage may appeal to a wider cross section of people. Icebirdis ideal for Antarctic charters, as she is a tough heavily constructed 62ft aluminium expedition yacht with 5 watertight compartments and an indestructible carbon rig. However, best of all, she offers the ability to sail in comfort in the heated double glazed pilot house with 360 degree views of the spectacular landscapes scrolling by. Icebird has 'state of the art' weather and communications systems. Individual email accounts are provided for guests and daily uploads are possible via the Iridium sat phone network. She is also equipped with Xaxero’s Sky-Eye System for real time satellite image downloads of weather systems which can be cross referenced with weather information from Global Marine Network.
These trips are designed for fit, agile and active people who have adventurous and positive outlooks. Participation is key to enjoyment. No sailing experience is required, but always welcome. The are no age limit as we have had fit and active people of all ages, even a 77 year old sea kayaker who was out paddling almost every day. All expeditioners will need to have a medical before departure as we are operating in remote areas and it is best for all concerned to have no surprises
Once you step aboard Icebird, all food, drinks including local beer and Argentinian wine, port fees, Antarctic permits and Iaato passenger fees are supplied. You only need bring some US dollars for buying souvenirs at Antarctic bases we may visit and for gratuities. You may also wish to bring a bottle of your favourite tipple for the odd nightcap. Kayak rental is included and 4 kayaks are carried aboard. Kokotat drysuits are provided.
What's not Included:
Personal clothing and equipment, travel insurance, entry visa for Argentina, Hotel and meals in Ushuaia, travel to and from Ushuaia, Iridium communications while on board, cost of medicals.
Various airlines, including Aerolinas Argentinas fly between Ushuaia and Buenos Aires, from where there are direct connections to many US and European airports. To fly to Port Stanley in the Falklands, there is a weekly connection (on Saturdays) from Punta Arenas in Chile.
Cost and Booking:
Please contact one of the persons below for prices and booking conditions. A deposit of 50% is due on booking, with 2 further instalments prior to departure. On booking, guests will be provided with Charter Agreements, Medical Forms and Gear lists. Please note that the terms of the Charter Agreement provides for full refunds in the unlikely event that we do not proceed with the trip.
Spirit of Sydney Expeditions Pty Ltd
Phone 0418 643 423 … Skype darrel.day
International +61418 643 423