EXPEDITIONS IN ANTARCTIC WATERS
This winter of 2011, the EUROPA will sail for the tenth time in the Southern waters. Two 22-day expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula are scheduled. Voyages for the sailing and bird lovers, for photographers, artists or just nature admirers.
The expeditions will start from Ushuaia in Argentina. This most southern city in South America is located alongside the Beagle Channel. From here, the famous "Drake Passage" has to be crossed. On the way albatrosses and storm birds will accompany the ship to the Antarctic paradise.
After passing the Antarctic convergention zone, the ship sails between the icebergs to the South Shetland Islands. The animal life is overwhelming. Sea lions, seals, gulls, cormorants and petrels use the summer in Antarctica to raise their young.
In the Antarctic waters, the bark EUROPA will anchor in sheltered bays every day. The crew will bring groups ashore in the dinghies to see glaciers, mosses and lichens, seals, birds and penguin colonies. Visitors on shore will often be welcomed by thousands of different kinds of penguins. A professional guide will give information about the flora and fauna. He will explain for example where to find bird and sea elephant colonies and he will give advice about what to do to not disturb the unspoiled scenery.
The ship will sail further south. Whales, the most loyal visitor of the Southern Ocean will visit the EUROPA. On former voyages many humpback whales, minky whales and even orca's, came curious swimming alongside the ship.
The daily program will be diverse. Every day gives new impressions.
The ice masses will get bigger more close to the mainland. Steep glaciers, walls of ice with magical shapes and surreal colours will surround the EUROPA with floating growlers where the leopard seals live on.
Next it is time to set sail to Cape Horn and leave this paradise. The last day of the voyage the ship will sail in between the chaos of islands in Tierra del Fuego. The green fjords are a significant change to the white and blue of Antarctica. These fjords are rough and populated with Magellan penguins, sea lions and rock cormorants.
But there is a time to leave the ship. Some of the sailors will be caught by the polar fever, which will never really disappear.
Which continent can arouse the imagination more?
When Captain Cook was the first, in 1773 to cross the Antarctic circle, and then complete his journey around the whole continent, there was a suspicion that it existed, but no one caught a glimpse of the continent during the journey. Not until 1819 were the South Shetland Islands discovered with its enormous fur-seal colonies. The dam gates were open. In the following three seasons the fur-seals were slaughtered, almost down to the last animal. And then the peace returned again to the islands
It took until 100 years ago, during the Belgian Antarctic expedition of 1897, under the leadership of Adrien de Gerlache, for an expedition to overwinter. The history of Antarctica in relation to people is very young, only a handful have set foot on land. Those that have been there have come under the spell of the still, untouchable continent; have lost their heart to it. They dream about going back some day, to again be astonished by the beauty and to bask in it’s purity.
The Antarctic Peninsula
The area which we visit with ‘Europa’ is the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, which are located to the north of it. This choice was made because of the favorable position with regards to South America; Cape Horn is just 500 miles away, and has a relatively mild climate.
In the winter the whole continent is closed in by a collar of fixed ice, but as spring gets under way the peninsula frees itself again from the ice-cold grip. Depending on the severity of the winter, the edge of the ice slowly shifts to the south and a relatively small ship such as ‘Europa’ has the opportunity to explore the area.
As we said, the southern winter it bitterly cold, but the period in which we sail – the middle of summer – the temperatures are mostly above zero. This, usually combined with calm weather makes it sometimes even too warm for coats. Continuous daylight is another feature of the summer. Although the sun just disappears below the horizon the mountaintops are bathed in a soft sunlight. In itself a source of energy. Those remaining at home often think that it must have been cold and desolate in the far south, but they will have been much colder in their northern winter.
Special clothing is not necessary, a good woollen sweater or a fleece jacket is fine. Ordinary winter clothing with perhaps some extra warm underwear is sufficient. It is worth having good heavy weather gear for the crossing of the Drake Passage, but also for dinghy trips, where you could get wet from the spray. Rubber boots are indispensable. When landing on a beach you will often have to stand with one foot in the water and also, rubber boots are easily cleaned after a visit to a penguin colony.
A complete description would be too lengthy. The animal life is abundant, busy beaches with penguin colonies, still with eggs or already with chicks, seals, whales, all sorts of storm petrels and the list goes on. After the first day in the South Shetlands a guest who was visibly moved said that ‘even if we had to return immediately, it would have been worth coming’. Another two weeks of overwhelming impressions awaited us.
Although only covering a couple of centuries, history is evident everywhere; in the names of the islands surrounding us, channels, mountain tops and glaciers. In our well stocked library you will be able to find a potted history of every Antarctic place name, a nice way to retrace past voyages of exploration. You will also find abundant information on whales and whaling, seals and seal hunters, descriptions of expeditions and novels.
South Georgia belongs to the so-called Sub-Antarctic Islands. This means that it is strongly influenced by the nearby continent of Antarctica but has a milder climate. An important facet in the location of the sub-Antarctic islands is that they lie within the Antarctic Convergence. This is a cold water zone around Antarctica with its own particular animal life. The island is about 180 km long with and has an average width of about 25 km. Deep bays are a feature of the north-east coast.
EUROPA in South Georgia
The animal life is extremely rich. There is a great diversity in birds, almost all of them breeding. In the spring and summer tens of thousands of penguins come ashore to find a partner and to rear their young. The fact that the island is accessible from the sea all the year round ensures that the king penguin also breeds there. An other remarkable birds is of course the albatross. Not only the smaller types and the various petrels are encountered, but also the largest type, the Wandering Albatross, either breeding or with fledglings.
Many mammals also choose South Georgia as a place to bring their young into the world. After being brought almost to extinction in the last century by American, Argentinian and Norwegian seal hunters the fur seal as well as the elephant seal have re-established themselves very well. The largest population of elephant seals in the world is found on the beaches of South Georgia.
From the beginning of this century South Georgia was a centre for whaling in the southern ocean. Whaling stations were built in the various beautiful, protected bays on the northern coast of the island. The water was teeming with whales and in the early years the hunters didn’t even have to leave the bays in order to slaughter whales all season. Easy pickings, but this of course did not continue.
However ships improved, harpoons were fired instead of thrown, and the catching went on, until it was economically no longer viable: there were no whales left. The whaling stations were deserted but not dismantled, with the intention of returning when the whales had re-established themselves.
A visit to a deserted whaling station is a strange experience. Life has stood still. Supplies have simply been left behind. The little church still stands, but the climate does take its toll.
There is just one word for it: overwhelming. The snow, the glaciers, the rocks, and on the northeast coast the undulating hills and the tussock grass, it is all pure and untouched. . Where the glaciers break up there are a lot of growlers and bergy bits in the water making it impossible at times for the ship to sail through.The typical Antarctic table icebergs run aground on the coast and are slowly eroded by the wind into beautiful ice formations.
Although South Georgia lies on the same latitude as Denmark (53°– 54°) the climate is completely different. This is due to the proximity of the Antarctic continent and the position of the island within the Antarctic Convergence. In the winter the pack-ice pushes itself almost to the south coast and snowstorms wail over the icy peaks.
The summers, on the other hand are fairly mild. The temperature is usually well above freezing. On the lower hills the snow melts and the tussock grass grows. The north coast is the sunny side. The deep bays and sheltered areas ensure beautiful windless summer days on which you have no need to wear a jacket. But keep it within reach, things can change quickly.
The south west coast of the island has, due to it’s unsheltered position many more cold, raw days with lots of wind and rain or snow. The Roaring Forties are renowned as the windy zone in the southern ocean, but the Furious Fifties are not to be outdone.
South Georgia belongs the the Falkland Island Dependencies and thus officially belongs to Great Britain.The island is administered by the Commissioner of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.Grytviken, the administrative centre of the island, has a customs officer and a post office. Since the conflict between Argentinia and Great Britain in 1982, in which South Georgia was also involved there is also a (continually diminishing) military presence.
Life in the freezer
A few years ago the BBC made a television series, presented by David Attenborough, called ‘Life in the Freezer’. The filming was done during the course of two summers, partly from the Damien II with Jérôme Poncet as skipper, one summer off the coast of the Antarctic Peninusula and one summer on South Georgia. The BBC is currently doing more filming with Jérôme Poncet, allotting two whole summers to this task, this time only concentrating on South Georgia. The island is definitely worth it.
The Falkland Islands lie in the South Atlantic Ocean on a latitude between 51° and 53° south, a little further south than the Straits of Magellan, about 500 km to the east. The group of islands consist of two large islands, East and West Falklands and more than 200 smaller islands, spread over an area about the size of the Netherlands. The islands have deep bays and many natural harbors and anchorages. They are hilly, the highest point being about 700m and the vegetation consists mainly of heather like shrub, strongly reminiscent of the Shetland Islands.
The population is originally mainly British but feel themselves to be Falkland Islanders. The population numbers about 2200, three quarters of whom live in Stanley and the rest spread over East and West Falklands and the smaller islands. Stanley lies on a large bay on the east coast and as the only town is also the capital.
The land is used for sheep farming and the wool produced is of a very high quality. The main source of income is the issuing of fishing licences.
Flora and fauna
The animal life on the Falkland Islands includes many kinds of penguins, seals and sea birds and is the basis of a small tourist industry. A handfull of English tourists come to the islands and cruise ships call in on their rounds of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia.
Up until now the possibility of sailing around the islands to admire the rocks, cliffs and breeding colonies has been seldom taken advantage of. A great diversity of wild flowers adorn the islands. With a simple illustrated guide one can enjoy identifying them.
Although it is on the same latitude, the average temperature is lower than in the Netherlands.
Summer temperatures are rarely over 20°C . The almost ever present wind ensures that one must always have a jacket within reach. Rain is seldom heavy and the spring and summer months are even known for their periods of dry, sunny weather.
How to reach the Falkland Islands
The direct flight from the RAF base ‘Brize Norton’ near Oxford, England is a good connection with the Falkland Islands. A stopover is made on Ascension. Mount Pleasant Airport lies a short distance from Stanley and serves also as a military base which has expanded since the conflict with Argentina in 1982. This is actually the most expensive way to get there and the RAF tries to keep civilian passengers to a minimum.
The other possibility is via Punta Arenas, Chile. These flights have become a lot cheaper. In the near future there may also be flights from Montevideo, Uruguay, which will probably reduce prices.
What to take
Your bunk has a duvet and sheets so you do not need to bring a sleeping bag. A small rucksack or shoulder bag is handy for walks ashore. Suitcases take up a lot of space in your cabin so we recommend you to use soft luggage bags. Please remember to bring your medical insurance certificates and, of course, a valid passport. Visas are not required.
In addition, you might consider bringing:-
warm waterproof and windproof clothing; thermal underwear, including long johns; waterproof sailing gear; warm hat and gloves. Several thin layers of clothing give better protection against the cold than one thick layer. Ashore, lightweight waterproofs are handy.
soft-soled shoes for wearing on deck.
waterproof boots. When you go ashore in the boat you might get wet feet. Strong rubber boots with warm socks are recommended. They are also practical when walking near penguin colonies where the ground may be boggy. It is important that your boots are waterproof.
warm, waterproof gloves
enough clothes for 3 weeks.
sunglasses and sun cream; the sun is strong and the ozone layer is very thin in this region.
camera and/or video recorder with spare batteries. Remember that the batteries might go flat very quickly in the low temperatures.
The ship's insurance covers all crew and guests on board.
We recommend you to take out additional travel, luggage, accident and cancellation insurance.
A sailing ship is much steadier in the water under sail in strong winds than a motor vessel. Once in Antarctic waters, we will be sheltered and the wind will be calm, so no one should suffer from seasickness. In Drake Passage, the winds are normally very strong and some people on board may suffer. Most will get used to the motion of the ship after one day. Healthy eating and sleep are the best ways to overcome seasickness. If you fear that you might be susceptible to seasickness, you can buy special plasters to stick behind your ears, or you can take anti-seasickness pills. Please buy these before you leave home.
Keeping in touch with home while you are away
In the event of an emergency, the ship can be contacted via the owners of Europa. They will try to contact the ship on a daily base via shipsí radio or Inmarsat. It is also possible to send a telegram to the ship anywhere in the world using the Inmarsat C terminal via KPN (Dutch telephone company). Emails may also be sent, but you must first register with Station 12.
Cash for personal expenditure ashore and drinks in the bar on board should not amount to much.
US $ will be accepted in most places. Ushuaia also has automatic cash machines. Payment on board in cash. No credit cards are accepted.
Meals on board
Our experienced Shipís Cook and her Assistant will provide three varied and hearty meals per day. Tea and coffee are included in your voyage fee and are available all day. Other drinks on board will be charged at reasonable rates.
Victory Adventure Travel is booking for your expedition. See below.
You are requested to fill in passport details, date of birth, etc, as this information must be included in the passenger list required by Customs in Argentina and Chile. We will, of course, treat this information as confidential. On receipt of your booking, we will send you a confirmation, with details of our conditions of payment.
We pledge to do our utmost to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable voyage.
In the event of exceptional circumstances, Smit Tall Ship BV reserves the right to cancel a voyage.
The voyage fees are guaranteed not to change.
"The ship left the southernmost tip of Argentina to sail through Drakeís Passage, well-known and respected by seafarers the world over, past Cape Horn and across the Southern Ocean. We were accompanied on this passage by albatrosses, storm petrels, and terns, skuas and seagulls, which danced with us over the waves. After a few days, we called in on the South Shetland Islands, the most northerly islands of the Antarctic continent. In the Antarctic waters, we anchored off bays every day, sending groups ashore in the dinghies to see glaciers, mosses and lichens, seals, birds and penguin colonies. Here we also met many different types of the most loyal visitor to the Southern Ocean, the whale. Further south, we set foot on the solid rock of the Antarctic mainland. An amazing voyage is about to begin"
Antarctica is a huge, cold, white plain, which appeals to the imagination of many. Some people become interested in the North and South Pole after reading about the travels of Willem Barents and Shackleton. Others are more fascinated by the rich wildlife or the beauty of Antarcticaís unspoilt natural environment.
Antarctica is one of the oldest continents on our planet. It is known to have been created at the beginning of time, but man was unable to live there because of its extremely cold climate. It is also the last great wilderness on Earth. In the summer, approximately 7000 tourists visit the continent. About 3000 to 4000 researchers spend the southern summer living in several research stations, but during the southern winter, that number dwindles to less than 1000. When winter grips this great white desert, human activity is no longer possible.
Several countries claim territorial rights over different parts of the continent, but no country have ownership or sovereignty over any part of Antarctica. Following the International Geophysics Year 1957/58, the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 was drawn up, sharing responsibility for the continent between twelve countries. It was agreed that Antarctica would only be used for scientific research activities and that free access to the results of all research would be guaranteed. No type of military activity is allowed on any part of this territory and territorial claims of any sort are prohibited. In 1991, an Environmental Protocol was drawn up to introduce new regulations applicable specifically to tourism.
During our visit to Antarctica we will adhere strictly to these regulations. We consider it a great honour to be able to see this immense monument of Nature with our own eyes.
Antarctica is the driest and coldest continent on the Earth, and is surrounded by a wild ocean. The central plateau is a desert
Antarctica is one of the last places on Earth to go for a unique holiday.
Until the middle of 1960 nearly all expeditions to Antarctica were for scientific purposes only, but tourism now is becoming of more importance Antarctica.
Regular short flights over Antarctica for tourists began in 1977 and developed using commercial jets flying from Australia, New Zealand and with jets and Twin Otters from Chile.
The main concerns about increase in tourism are environmental protection, safety, self-reliance (search and rescue facilities in Antarctica are very limited) and interference with Antarctic scientific activities.
The Antarctic tourism industry works to guidelines drafted by the industry itself and adopted by the Treaty nations.
Tourists are prohibited from doing such things as disturbing wildlife, dropping rubbish and "souveniring" artefacts.
These rules are usually the well respected by tourists who are generally environmentally conscious.
While tourist numbers are increasing, they only take short visits of 2-4 weeks.
Tourism accounts for less than 1% of the human population in Antarctica, with the other 99% being scientific expeditioners, who usually spend many months or years there.
|FROM THE SOUTHERN TO THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE 2011|
4/6 p cabin
|KA-290411||29-04-2011||22-05-11||24||Cape Town, SA, 5 PM||Ascension Isl. , UK 9AM||Ocean voyage, via St Helena||€ 1.750,-||€ 2.475,-|
|AH-220511||22-05-2011||19-06-11||29||Ascension Isl. , UK 5 PM||Horta, Azores 9 AM||Ocean voyage, equator crossing||€ 1.875,-||€ 2.950,-|
|HW-190611||19-06-2011||01-07-11||13||Horta, Azores 5 PM||Waterford, Ireland 9 AM||Ocean voyage||€ 1.175,- € 1.450,-|
Note: Voyage fees with ** mark means 2 persons cabins are fully booked.
|TALL SHIPS RACES 2011|
15 - 25 years
> 25 years
|WG-020711||02-07-2011||11-07-2011||10||Waterford, Ireland 5 PM||Greenock, Scotland 9 AM||Tall Ships Race||€ 925,-|| berths 25+
|GL-110711||11-07-2011||22-07-2011||12||Greenock, Scotland 5 PM||Lerwick, Shetl. Isl. 9 AM||Cruise in Company||€ 1.095,-|| berths 25+
|LN-230711||22-07-2011||30-07-2011||9||Lerwick, Shetl. Isl. 5 PM||Stavanger, Norway 9 AM||Tall Ships Race||€ 825,-|| berths 25+
|NH-300711||30-07-2011||07-08-2011||9||Stavanger, Norway 5 PM||Halmstad, Sweden 9 AM||Tall Ships Race||€ 825,-||berths 25+ fully booked|
|WH-020711||02-07-2011||07-08-2011||37||Waterford, Ireland 5 PM||Halmstad, Sweden 9 AM||Full Tall Ships Races 2011||€ 3.100,-||berths 25+ fully booked|
|GN-110711||11-07-2011||30-07-2011||20||Greenock, Scotland 5 PM||Stavanger, Norway 9 AM||Combination discount||€ 1.750,-||berths 25+ fully booked|
|LH- 220711||22-07-2011||07-08-2011||17||Lerwick, Shetl. Isl. 5 PM||Halmstad, Sweden 9 AM||Combination discount||€ 1.495,-||berths 25+ fully booked|
|FROM THE NORTHERN TO THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE 2011|
4/6 p cabin
|RV-140911||14-09-2011||24-9-2011||11||Rotterdam, NL 5 PM||Vigo, ES 9 AM||Sailing voyage||€ 975,-||€ 1155,-|
|VL-240911||24-9-2011||6-10-2011||13||Vigo, ES 5 PM||Las Palmas, ES 9 AM||Ocean voyage||€ 1095,-||€ 1375,-|
|LS-081011||8-10-2011||3-11-2011||27||Las Palmas, ES 5 PM||Salvador, Braz. 9 AM||Ocean voyage, equator crossing||€ 1875,-||€ 2650,-|
|SM-071111||7-11-2011||23-11-2011||17||Salvador, Braz. 5 PM||Montevideo, UR 9 AM||Ocean voyage||€ 1275,-||€ 1750,-|
|MS-251111||25-11-2011||7-12-2011||13||Montevideo, UR. 5 PM||Stanley, Falklands, 9 AM||Ocean voyage||€ 975,-||€ 1325,-|
|RM-140911||14-9-2011||23-11-2011||71||Rotterdam, NL 5 PM||Montevideo, UR. 9 AM||combination discount 20%||€ 4175,-||€ 5525,-|
|ANTARCTICA EXPEDITIONS 2011 / 2012|
4/5 p cabin
|MU-251111||25-11-2011||12-1-2012||49||Montevideo, UR 5 PM||Ushuaia, Arg. 9 AM||combination discount+3 d. Stanley||€ 8300,-*||€ 9750,-*|
|ANT1-101211||10-12-2011||12-1-2012||34||Stanley, Falklands 5 PM||Ushuaia, Arg. 9 AM||Centennial trip, SG & Antarctica||€ 7775,- *||€ 8875,- *|
|ANT2-150112||15-1-2012||5-2-2012||22||Ushuaia, Arg. 5 PM||Ushuaia, Arg. 9 AM||Antarctica||€ 5600,-||2p cabin fully booked|
|ANT3-070212||7-2-2012||28-2-2012||22||Ushuaia, Arg. 5 PM||Ushuaia, Arg. 9 AM||Antarctica||€ 5600,-|| 2p cabin
|ANT4-020312||2-3-2012||22-4-2012||52||Ushuaia, Arg. 5 PM||Cape Town, S.A.. 9 AM||Ant., S Georgia & Tristan da Cunha||€ 6900,- *||€ 7900,- *|
Note: Voyage fees with * are excluding landingfees South Georgia of GBP 158,- p.p.
The price includes all meals on board, tea and coffee. The price is excluding the drinks in the bar, the transfers to and from the ship and the travel/cancellation insurance.
Capt. Ben Garrett