planning a sailing trip to antarctica

I recently came back from a sailing trip from Chile to Antarctica. First of all, ¡¡¡!!!!. Second of all, not my boat. I was not the skipper, either. I paid for this awesome, once in a lifetime opportunity.

I know you’re going to ask “how can you afford this?” and the honest answer is I can’t. If you have $20k to spare, go for it. I saved up for two years while I was still working, and only had 1/3 of the cost. This didn’t include the costs of a dental exam to fix any issues (I’d been avoiding a couple expensive ones), rescue insurance (might as well get that anyways), several flights to get to and from Chile, hotel stays when not on the boat, all the required gear to not freeze to death (some of which can be used on the boat at some point), a medical exam, a GoPro (because how can I do this and not have a GoPro?) the list goes on. To conclude, I will be spending this year (and perhaps the next 5) at anchor, and working on some Salty merchanside to sell.

Also to answer the why, and why now? Well, South America and Antarctica were the last continents I needed to hit before I got all 7. I kind of wanted to finish the land journey before I got too far away in my little floating home. I also saw it as a major learning opportunity, where I could get some world class, hands on, heavy weather sailing experience from the best experts around.

I am admittedly not the best planner, and while most people who do trips like this have a travel agent, guess what? I can’t afford one of those. I generally like to give myself some time to recouperate after several flights, so after 5 I gave myself a day and a half overlap before the next boarding. I spent several days mulling each detail over, making sure I had gotten the right dates and cities connecting. Oddly enough, I ended up missing all four connecting flights getting me to Chile because the Mexico City airport completely shut down for 5 hrs due to fog. The ferry I had taken through Patagonia also arrived 10 hours late, so I am very glad I did not immediately book a bus and connecting flight out of there, because I would have missed those too.

In addition to the mentions below, here is a list of gear I used to pack my bag.

Spare batteries: you’ll need them! The cold discharges them faster. Keep them in your inner coat pocket.

Spare memory cards: bring them all! There’s no room for a laptop with all the gear, nor would I want to risk damaging it in the many plane transfers and hours of heavy sailing.

Hand and foot warmers: get one for each day!

And last but not least, if you are looking for a sailing trip and shopping around, the more details the better. Pictures of the boat, prior expeditions, and crew are good to see. Lists of their upcoming trips on which boats, how long they will be gone and what islands they are going to are all completely necessary to see. If you are shelling out a large chunk of change, you need details and complete transparency. Do not go with a company who does not regularly do these trips. Who knows if their boat or skipper is even qualified to handle such a passage? Your safety matters, the price should not compromise that.