Discovering Antarctica by Sailboat
Words and Photos by: Christophe Ngo Van Duc
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.
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.
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.