Baby, it’s cold outside – but it’s beautiful
Damian Foxall, Irish Sailing Sustainability Ambassador, and team share their adventures and environmental learnings from Antarctica.
On 1st December last year, ‘Team South’ departed Ushuaia, Argentina, and headed south across the Drake Passage.
The Antarctic Ecosystem
Far from being the ice desert that one might imagine, this continent is more alive than many other places on Earth. The ecosystem of the ice algae supports a biomass and a range of species, from the minute to the massive, that congregates here each Austral summer, often right under the boat!
Damian sums up “Seals wallow and belch, the leopard seals lick their lips and bide their time, while the whales feast in spirals of bubbles abeam.”
The team have witnessed Minke, Humpbacks and Orca all coming alongside or under the boat. Lucy told us “Experiencing Antarctica is both mind-blowing and humbling and has brought a tear to my eye a number of times trying to take everything in - being checked out by humpback whales, or visiting the amphitheatre of over 100,000 chinstrap penguins, and dodging the hundreds of penguins on the highway to the Bransfield Strait!”
This year is particularly special
Damian Foxall told us “It was an honour for us to be down here in the same week that, 200 years ago, Irishman Edward Bransfield arrived and charted a section of the Antarctic peninsula for the first time”.
Bransfield sailed his ship into the unknown, without charts, into an area that was known for ice, but little more. It’s difficult to begin to understand today what those men experienced and achieved. In the current age where human standards are defined by comfort and consumption, they lived to another norm, of wooden ships and iron men.
Two hundred years later the environment has changed little, with the exception of the influences of climate change. While man is developing 99% of the rest of the world, here even at the tip of the Antarctic peninsula one feels that the landscape of ice, rock is resisting human impact - for now.
Damian invites you to join the team
Damian Foxall, Niall MacAllister and Lucy Hunt are known as ‘Team South’ - the three-person crew of exceptionally talented and highly experienced sailors and marine scientists leading a full season of Antarctic expeditions onboard the 66ft ketch rigged sailboat ‘Ocean Tramp’.
Damian Foxall invites you to join the team, and take up one of the last couple of places available on the final trip of the season: “Antarctica enthrals, en-wraps, inspires you and defies the senses that struggle to even begin to put into scale what the eye beholds but the brain cannot compute. Once, twice, will never be enough”.
The ketch changes its group of up to eight guests every two or three weeks - guests can comprise photographers, scientists, adventurers - in fact, anyone looking to fulfil their lifelong dream of witnessing and exploring the magic of Antarctica.
Lucy Hunt, Marine Biologist, enthuses: “It had always been a dream to work in Antarctica and now I´m here, I know that dreams do come true, so be sure to follow yours! It is one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited from the awe-inspiring landscapes to the abundant wildlife”.
We are looking forward to hearing more at the Irish Sailing Cruising Conference in February.
Ocean Tramp is strong, fast and comfortable, and the onboard banter is great - what more could any visitor want? The team is excited to share the last expedition of the season with fellow Irish adventurers and invite you to join them. It’s an often overused phrase, but this really is the chance of a lifetime – to join such an amazing team, with Damian Foxall at the helm and marine biologists close at hand. Quixote Expeditions will fly you to Punta Arenas, Chile, and then on to Antarctica where you meet Ocean Tramp and step on board for two weeks of Antarctic adventures. You complete your adventure by sailing back across the Drake to the Falklands, before flying home.
Now that ticks a lot of boxes for any cruising sailor that likes a bit of adventure and discovery!
You can follow the team’s adventures and find out how to join them on www.teamsouth.ie