Discovering Antarctica by Sailboat

Words and Photos by: Christophe Ngo Van Duc

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landscape cyanotype image of a sailboat in antarctica christophe ngo
 
 

There are many reasons to go to Antarctica. As the last pristine place on earth, it is still the land of explorers. In my case, I had been photographing wildlife in remote destinations and it seemed a logical and natural continuation of my work. When a friend posted that he was organizing a four-week sailing trip to Antarctica, I jumped at the chance. It was a lot of money and a long time away from the “civilized” world, but why not? We live only once.

 
 
man walking on ice antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
sailboat in antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
man on sailboat in antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
 
 

We had a small community of nine people onboard the vessel. The sixty-foot sailboat rolled up and down and side to side while crossing the Drake Passage, and the first forty-eight hours were a personal hell - I was seasick to the point of not being able to function normally, I couldn’t hold down food or water, and I had to calculate the best times to go to the bathroom between four-meter waves crashing onto the boat. I also added a personal challenge to that scenario in that I didn’t want to take any medicine at all. I wanted to feel the full experience, not what was masked behind the artificial sleep of pills.


After five rough days through the Drake Passage, you are stripped bare and suddenly wide awake - open and ready to experience the full breadth of what Antarctica throws at you. 


 
 
humpback whale fluke antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
penguins jumping off iceberg antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
 
 

In my opinion, Antarctica must be experienced by sailboat. Doing so can give you a greater connection with our planet and its wildlife, open up your inner shell, push your limits, and allow you to truly feel the pulse of the universe. After five rough days through the Drake Passage, you are stripped bare and suddenly wide awake - open and ready to experience the full breadth of what Antarctica throws at you. 

When we finally made it to the Antarctic Peninsula, daily life was pure joy: listening to the songs of the Weddell seals through the steel hull at night, observing the silence of the landscape and the busy calls of the penguin colonies, as well as encountering curious gentle giants like humpback whales. It was everything you could ask for to connect with the natural world.

 
 
gentoo penguin antarctica in water cyanotype christophe ngo
yawning seal antarctica cyanotype image christophe ngo
Iceberg in Antarctica image by Christohpe Ngo cyanotype
weddell seal close up cyanotype image christophe ngo
chinstrap penguin on ice antarctica christophe ngo
 
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Letters From the Ends of the Earth is an online multimedia platform that brings the polar regions to you - through real stories, stunning photography, inspiring artwork, and informative resources. From Antarctica to the Arctic, Svalbard to South Georgia, this project shines a new and different kind of light on the unique experiences found at the Ends of the Earth.
 

Have You Spent Time in Antarctica or the Arctic?

 
 

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