A snow storm hits one night past Elephant Island near the South Shetlands, making decks slippery, and glistening on lines in the morning sun.
We get all sorts of crazy weather, from light drizzle, hail, snow, katabatic wind, waves washing over the decks, to a very rare calm sea with bright blue sky.
It keeps closing in around us. Very difficult to navigate. Surrounded by sea ice, I'll never forget the bone crushing sensation of hitting our first tiny berg, sending a booming noise throughout the hull, effortlessly picking up our helpless ship, and putting it on a new course.
We must backtrack 100 miles, narrowly escaping the same way we came in, motoring full force through the night, straight against katabatic glacial headwinds and crashing waves.
Shackleton wasn't so lucky a century ago as HMS Endurance got stuck over winter, and the ice froze together, eventually devouring his ship, sending him on a wild rescue journey.
Last season, our boat got stuck, unable to move for two days. Fortunately we escape just in time, so we don't have to eat seal bisque nor penguin soufflé.
On the helm, at all hours of day and night, we spend endless hours, staring at this compass, steering the giant rudder, keeping us on course.
At Grytviken harbour in South Georgia, famous as an old whaling station, as well as the grave of Shackleton, we enjoy a BBQ out on deck. Earlier in the day, we had a lovely hike through the mountains from Maiviken harbour.
With two high tech satellite devices, I keep in touch with the world:
1) DeLorme inReach which costs about $250, and then about 50 cents per message to any phone number or email address, up to 160 characters. It connects to any iPhone or Android device by Bluetooth, and also sends GPS tracks. It works over the global Iridium data network.
2) Iridium Extreme 9575 sat phone which costs about $1500, and then about $2.00 per minute of voice call. It has truly global coverage from pole to pole, as long as it has a clear view of the sky. The voice quality and latency is surprisingly good.
On a calm day at anchor, we repair massive sails with the sewing machine.
On a calm night at anchor, I sit alone in the wheel house for two hours on "anchor watch", making sure we don't drag. I read my copy of the Four Hour Chef, salivating over some tasty recipes. A few months ago I bought 1000 copies of this book, which were delivered in three huge pallets to my warehouse, and re-sold one by one on Amazon.com & Half.com. Sold at a loss unfortunately, but that was part of the plan, because in return for helping boost Tim onto the NYT best seller list in the first week of launch, I'd get a full expense paid luxury trip with him and a handful of other interesting people to Buenos Aires.
In Cape Town, I spend two weeks relaxing and luxuriating in the land-based creature comforts I've forgone for the last two months. Then jet back, straight over the Atlantic to Argentina for a week. Then back up to California for two weeks. Then its June 1st, and don't know where I'll go yet. Will just play flight roulette. But in the summer I'll for sure end up spending some time in Northern Thailand, and Hong Kong, with the rest unknown.
The barque Europa
The Dutch tall ship Europa
was built in 1911 to serve as a light vessel on the river Elbe in Germany.
From 1986 to 1994 the ship was rebuilt into a three-masted barque. Since then, the Europa
has travelled many oceans and developed a reputation as a ship that 'really sails'.
She carries a professional crew of 14 and an additional maximum 48 voyage crew members. Tall ship lovers, even if they don't have any seagoing experience, can help the permanent crew by taking the helm, assisting with navigation, or hoisting and furling square-sails on the yards. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and friendly. The classic interior combines many authentic details, reflecting maritime history, with all modern comforts.
Every year, from November to March, the Europa
visits the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia.
For further information: www.barkeuropa.com