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Europa - Longer Antarctic Expeditions 2018-19 - South Georgia, Falklands, Cape Horn

Sailing holiday adventures on Bark Europa. Photo by Rene Koster

Ultimate 52 Day Antarctic Adventures Under Square Rig

If you want to combine hard core sailing in the Southern Ocean and Weddell Sea with expeditions ashore to wildlife rich Antarctic islands on both sides of the Antarctic Peninsula then the Bark Europa longer voyages may be your ultimate tall ship adventure.

The jewel of the South Atlantic is the mountainous island of South Georgia. This sub Antarctic oasis sits just beyond the winter sea ice so it is the favourite breeding spot for fur seals, elephant seals, king penguins, and millions of seabirds and albatrosses. Europa Antarctic seasons are usually designed to offer one or sometimes two South Georgia expeditions.  

In 2018 we have two longer Southern Ocean Voyages, and are eagerly awaiting the dates of Feb /March 2019 Cape to Cape Voyage (bookings will open in May 2017)

Photo by Debbie Purser. Crossing the Weddell Sea on Bark Europa
Photo by Debbie Purser. Crossing the Weddell Sea on Bark Europa

OPTION 1: Cape Horn - Antarctic Peninsula, Weddell Sea, South Georgia - Cape Town 2018

This epic 52 day voyage on Bark Europa is known as Cape to Cape (Cape Horn to Cape Town), and coverted by professional and amateur sailors, bird watchers, wildlife lovers, photographers and tall ship enthusiasts from all over the world. At the end of the main Antarctic Season the ship finishes with a 2 month epic adventure.

Whilst there are plenty of zodiac safaris and beach landings, stunning anchorages and intricate pilotage amongst icebergs, fjords and islands, there is also a lot of sailing: Over 5500 miles of Southern Ocean sailing - mostly downwind in the infamous Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and even sixties latitudes travelling in the right direction for square riggers like Europa to really 'crack on'.

Big Bergs and tall ship Europa

In the Wake of Shackleton

After exploring both sides of the Antarctic Peninsula, Europa sets off from near Elephant Island and replicates the 800 mile iceberg strewn route that Shackleton took in an open boat (The James Caird was a ships lifeboat with sail and oar) to get rescue from the whaling communities on South Georgia.  Today the whaling stations are rusty ruins in an otherwise pristine wildlife heaven. The mountains are snowy and awe inspiring, lenticular clouds form above the summits and the beaches are so crammed with wildlife it is hard to cross them.  Europa typically spends about a week exploring South Georgia Anchorages and setting sail between them.

And there is more.....After South Georgia the ship heads North East across the South Atlantic and will try to visit and land on the unique British outpost Tristan Da Cuhna on the way to Cape Town. Whether we can land is always a bit touch and go and sometimes we have to sit out a couple of days of rock and roll, waiting for the swell to be safe enough to land, but we are always well recieved by the locals and have even joined them for a game of golf.

South Georgia - Larsen Fjord in a heat wave
South Georgia - Larsen Fjord in a heat wave

OPTION 2: South Georgia first, & across Iceberg Alley to the Antarctic Peninsula

A slightly shorter option for experiencing the wildlife wonders of South Georgia, still includes some challenging Southern Ocean sailing. In November 2018 Europa will set sail South Eastwards from the warm waters of  Uruguay towards South Georgia. This allows a gentle transition from pleasant sailing temperatures and decent sailing winds, to a wilder rollercoaster as you move through the Roaring Forties. If you have always wanted to see Albatrosses this is the voyage leg to stay on deck. Wandering Albatross, Black brows, Sooty Albatross, Petrels....all showing off dynamic soaring between the often huge ocean swells.

Newby and Villiers fans will be well satisfied with waves on deck and the thrilling work aloft in strong winds.....even it their feet stay firmly on deck taking photos. Whatever your ability there are plenty of opportunities to do something heroically beyond normal offshore sailing if you want the adrenalin fix. Going aloft is not compulsory. Sometimes its easy. Sometimes its uber challenging even for professionals. Down at deck level there is lots of fun to be had just standing up to man (or woman) the myriad of ropes at deck level or doing your stint as lookout for 15 minutes in a blizzard.

After an incredible week exploring South Georgia with Europa's wildlife guides (see the actual voyage itineraries) the ship sets off South towards the edge of the Antarctic Continent, perhaps stopping in South Orkney. Hoping to catch the Polar Easterlies across the Weddell Sea to the East side of the Peninsula, you are now in the territory of really big icebergs, as they break off the Larsen Ice Sheet. Land in special places like Paulet Island with thousands of Adelie Penguins before trying to navigate through the Antarctic Sound to the other side of the Antarctic Peninsula.  Classic destinations like Astrolabe Island or swimming in the steaming crater of Deception are waiting for you if the weather is right.  The sad bit is leaving South Shetland Islands for Patagonia. You may catch polar fever and be back again.

Classic Sailing founder Debbie Purser amongst King Penguins in South Georgia
Debbie Purser amongst King Penguins in St Andrews Bay, South Georgia

OPTION 3: I just want to See Penguins and Steer a Tall Ship

If these longer voyages sound a bit too epic, then We also have 22 day Antarctic Expeditions with less ocean sailing. You just have to hang on tight across the Drakes Passage for about 3 days and the ship can tuck in behind the South Shetland Isles. For the rest of your Antarctic adventure on Europa the sailing is in daylight only, mostly flat waters, narrow fjords and the weather is generally stable high pressure, blue and sunny.  By the time you have to sail back to Tierra del Fuego, you will be feeling more nautical and you can enjoy the albatrosses once more.

22 day Antarctic Voyages 2018 - 2019  Read more about the Antarctic Peninsula only as a sailing destination.

helming with help from a friend
Team effort: Michelle from France and Clare from Oz

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