DAY 1 – USHUAIA – BEAGLE CHANNEL – CAPE HORN
First meeting of your crew at the jetty of sailing club – transfer of luggage to the yacht by dinghy, last shopping for the coming four weeks, paperwork to clear out – then sail east through the Beagle Channel and turn south through the Cape Horn archipelago. Weather permitting, we will sail directly across the Drake Passage for the Peninsula. On the other hand, if the forecast is for strong headwinds, or risk of storm, we will shelter in any number of three anchorages within the archipelago. If we are storm bound for a day or two while the system moves through, there are opportunities for long walks ashore on the rugged terrain of Tierra del Fuego.
DAY 2–4 – DRAKE PASSAGE
Sometime in the middle of the night we leave the South American continent and enter the Drake Passage. The 1000-kilometer wide Drake Passage is renowned for its storms and wild seas, as waves build high and power across the Southern Ocean unchecked by any land mass. But it’s also entirely possible to make the three day crossing in completely calm seas. If this happens to you, count yourself lucky and enjoy your sweet, blessed Dramamine-free days aboard the yacht. More often than not though, you will experience some rough seas along the way (and maybe miss a couple of meals), but this a remarkably small price to pay for what waits on the other side of the Drake Passage.
DAY 5 – HANNAH POINT
We made it! – Relieved, we drop our reliable Bruce (anchor) – cabins get aired, the dinghy prepared, all ready for the first shore visit. Hannah Point situated at the south coast of Livingston island, has pebbled beaches and sandy slopes perfect for exploring wildlife – Nesting Gentoo and Chinstrap Penguins – among them two or three couples of Macaroni penguins – Elephant seals in wallow areas – Blue Eyed Shags – Southern Giant Petrels – Kelp gulls and Skuas – Climbing the ridges, beautiful view over to Deception island – At times a Whale blow is visible – Beautiful icebergs float by.
DAY 6 – DECEPTION ISLAND
Spectacular sailing through the entrance into the “crater“ of Deception Island – walks along the shorelines in Telefon Bay and visit at the abandoned whaling station at Whalers Bay. If conditions permit, we will make a landing at Bailey’s Head, and visit to one of the biggest Chinstrap Colonies on the Peninsula.
DAY 7 – ENTERPRISE ISLAND
Sailing through Bransfield Strait – then entering the northern Gerlache Strait. First glimpses of the Antarctic continent. As we head south, we witness walls of towering glaciers, mountaintops emerging and disappearing in grey mist. We take turns being on deck for ice watches, always being alert for icebergs small and large in our path. Our moorage for the night is in a small cove near Enterprise Island. Here rests an old wreck, rusted and half sunk in the water.
DAY 8 – CUVERVILLE ISLAND
After some zodiac cruising in the morning, we sail south for Cuverville Island. Stunning mountain scenery along the way – lots of icebergs floating in Gerlache Strait. Good chance to see marine mammals like crabeater amd leopard seals, as well as humpback whales. At Cuvervillle Island, we make a landing to check out the Gentoo Penguin colony. Their chicks will have hatched, so it’s wonderful to see new life taking hold. We will also don our snowshoes and climb to the top of the island for spectacular vistas.
DAY 9 – NEKO HARBOR
Located in Andvord Bay, named after a whaling factory ship that operated in this region 1911-1924 and frequently moored in that protected bay, a small bay with cobble beach. The glaciers in Neko Harbour are highly crevassed and regularly calve, quite a spectacle – Gentoo penguins, Kelp gulls and Skua breeding area, some species of moss, Argentine refuge hut. If weather permits, we take a dip in the frigid Antarctica water and do our annual polar plunge here!
DAY 10 – 11 Paradise Bay
We head into Paradise Bay today and cruise around looking for marine mammals. Big chance to see whales: Minke and Humpback Whales – They often come close to the boat – Chilean station Videla might be visited – Gentoo colony – Cormorant colonies – Dinghy cruises – Incredible scenery – overnight in Skontrop Cove, near several massive tidewater glaciers.
DAY 12–13 – PORT CHARCOT
Cruising through Lemaire Channel, also nicknamed KODAK channel: very narrow channel with up to 1000 meter high rock faces, sometimes huge icebergs get stuck in the middle of the channel – Peterman Island: Circumcision Bay – Gentoo and Adelie penguins nesting – Blue eyed shags – Refuge hut, historical features and scientific activities – Maze of islands, rocks, grounded icebergs in iceberg ‘graveyard’ at Pleneau Island. One of the best places to see the midnight sun if weather permits.
DAY 14 – PETERMAN ISLAND
Lemaire Channel also nicknamed KODAK channel: very narrow channel with up to 1000 meter high rock faces, sometimes huge icebergs get stuck in the middle of the channel – Peterman Island: Circumcision bay – Gentoo and Adelie penguins nesting – Blue eyed shags – Refuge hut, historical features and scientific activities – Maze of islands, rocks, grounded icebergs south beyond Petermann island – If time allows will sail south to visit the Urkranian research station at Vernadsky, formerly Faraday Station (British). It is here that scientists discovered the ocean hole. We will visit the Vernadsky Station lounge, the southernmost bar in the world¸ where we will enjoy some homemade vodka.
DAY 15 – PORT LOCKROY
We head north to one of the prettiest anchorages of Antarctica – Good chance to meet another yacht or cruise ship – Beautiful view on Fife mountain range – visit Port Lockroy (established in 1944 and operated till 1962, restored in 1996), historical site, museum under Antarctic treaty. Operated by the United Kingdom, the only post office in Antarctica. There is a boatshed and a number of artifacts on Goudier island and many Gentoo penguins. After being told to stay at least 10 meters away from wildlife, in keeping with Antarctic Treaty guidelines, we might be surprised, that the penguins do not stick to these rules, but stand practically on our feet and lay their eggs on the footpath up to the station. Visit to Jougla Point: Gentoo penguins, Blue-eyed shags, Kelp gulls, Antarctic terns, Skuas, Weddell seals, complete, rebuilt Whale skeleton
DAY 16 – DALLMANN BAY
We head for Gamma Island, part of the Melchior islands – this area is rich with nutrients and good chance to see humpback whales and if we lucky orcas. Opportunity to go snowshoeing on top of the island and enjoy one last time the gorgeous scenery between Anvers and Brabant Islands. Preparation for the Drake – Water tank filled up – Dinghy deflated and packed away – Storm jib set – Lee cloth engaged – Sea legs prepared
DAY 17-20 – DRAKE PASSAGE
We should see the passage with different eyes now; it’s all that much more familiar – Sea birds accompany us again – We head for Cape Horn – How beautiful to see this cliff face again, scent of bushes, flowers in the air, impressive how the swell brakes on the rocks – No wonder this Cape has so many mysteries written about it – Tired, but happy we continue our journey north towards the Beagle Channel
DAY 21 – USHUAIA
Heading west towards Ushuaia in the morning, dolphins welcome us back – Last sail across the Beagle – visit Fur seal haulout – Sarah’s sturdy mooring awaits us already – Packing – Paperwork for arrival of the boat with the Argentine authorities – Farewell Dinner in the evening