Posted by: Andy | April 26, 2016

Infinity Expedition Review

Sitting in the windowless basement library at university, idling away hours of my life, learning information important to neither man or beast, I realised I had to escape. I had done it before so I knew I could do it again. My usual places of refuge are mountains and oceans. Before long I was scrolling through sailing opportunities on findacrew.net and there it was; Infinity Expedition.

Their listing said they were currently in Thailand doing some work on the yacht but were soon to depart for Singapore then Borneo, the Philippines, Palau, Truk Lagoon, Ponape, the Marshall Islands and up to Hawaii. In a few weeks time I would be finished university forever, Infinity Expeditions would be in Borneo and so would I. After all, Libraries are not my natural environment, if they are yours, then you are not natural. Diving, sailing and exploring S.E. Asia and the Pacific sounded like a great plan. Pin stripe suits, the financial times, desk driving, networking evenings, the FTSE100, profit and loss accounts and the promise of ‘early’ retirement at 65 would have to wait, I filed all of them in a folder labeled TOXIC DO NOT OPEN.

A simple email exchange between myself and the crew, which included filling out a questionnaire to test my suitability for joining, and it was all done and dusted. I buried my head once again for another month in the library and then teleported myself to Borneo. (I actually took a plane to Borneo, if you think teleportation is a thing you need to stop taking drugs).

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Infinity Expeditions owns the, wait for it, Sailing Yacht Infinity a 120 foot expedition sailing vessel. For the last decade and a half it has sailed tens of thousands of miles around the Pacific. It has been as far South as Antarctica, as far North as Hawaii, all the way West to the Andamans and all the way East to both South America and North America. They specialise in remote expeditions to far flung Pacific communities that are otherwise pretty much impossible to reach. Aboard, the yacht has comfortable accommodation for about 16 crew in mainly twin and double cabins, a well equipped galley, library, movie projector, big sound system for parties and huge communal living room. The yacht has a diving compressor and diving gear and usually has a dive instructor aboard. One of my favourite features is the huge amount of solar panels kindly gifted by Infinity Power . When in sunny climates, Infinity can run everything, including the watermaker, off solar. The only things requiring the generator are power tools and the dive compressor.

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Infinity Expedition - Cooking

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Before joining the yacht, I was advised to do some diving courses to maximize the amazing diving opportunities we would have. In-between exploring Borneo I did my PADI open water certification. As is often the case with wind powered vehicles, Infinity was behind schedule arriving in Borneo. Oh no, what a shame, I had to stay another few days exploring the island.

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When Infinity arrived, I moved out of the hostel and onto the yacht. It was the biggest yacht I had ever been on. The scale of everything and just how many cabins and people there were blew me away. We had a list of projects to complete including; sail repairs, food shopping (not to be underestimated for so many people on such a big trip!) and getting a new outboard for one of the tenders.

Then disaster struck. Michael Jackson died. Despite having over a dozen fit and healthy crew we were helpless. We were only told he was dead, not that he was dying a few days prior when maybe we could have sent help. The local radio stations played MJ on repeat for days. To bring closure, we had the Gavin Allman Michael Jackson Appreciation and Commemoration Dance Show. With that chapter closed, we slipped our lines and left for the Philippines.

Aboard, we had crew from; America, Canada, China, Brasil, Germnay, Belgium, France, United Kingdom, India and Ireland. If we could all just get along, as human beings, then probably, there is hope for the World! Everyone had led entirely different lives and ranged in age from less than 10 to over 50. From an off piste heli ski guide to a Bollywood photographer to a plumber to a teacher, two young children, a restaurant owner and several long term travellers, there was a huge variety of backgrounds and hundreds of interesting stories to hear. On the whole everyone got on well which is important since we were all living together. When you have lived and travelled on yachts the saying ‘we’re all on the same boat’ takes on new meaning!

We often sailed around the clock, in these instances the day was split up into different ‘watches’ and you would be in charge of steering the yacht whilst observing any other traffic and the weather conditions. All tasks were split amongst crew, from engineering jobs, bread making, galley duty, cleaning and even passage planning. Everyone is involved with many aspects of the expedition which is a lot of fun.

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Graduation Photo whilst in Micronesia

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I could describe in detail each destination but instead I share some photos of favourite moments;

 

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Diving on WW2 wrecks throughout Micronesia

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Meeting super isolated communities on low lying Atolls in Micronesia

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Infinity Expedition - Pulafuk Stephanie

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Sailing Infinity

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Our route from Borneo to the Marshall Islands

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Infinity Expeditions was founded by Clemens Oestreich who is one of the most skilled navigators, teachers and also engineers I have ever met. He has been living on infinity with his family since he bought her and fosters a great community spirit aboard. Joining Infinity Expeditions is one of the best decisions I ever made. I have both friends for life and memories for life. It is not for everyone, if you want to be pampered and not lift a finger then go on a cruise. If you need a fixed and rigid schedule then take a train in Japan. If however, you want the adventure of a lifetime in this beautiful World of ours and are willing to work together with others to make it happen then sign up now!

 

Clemens takes the helm having delegated lookout duty

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In short, would I go back? I already did, I returned in 2014 for the expedition to Antarctica and I look forward to returning.

 

Infinity is currently in the Philippines, in the next year they return to the Pacific heading to Papa New Guinea, Vanuatu and then back to Micronesia before heading north to Alaska for an attempt and the famous North West Passage. Visit the Infinity Expeditions website for their full itinerary.

 

For other people accounts of their time aboard, check out some of these fantastic blogs and videos including the trailer for Sea Gypsies – The Far Side of the World which is released this summer.

 

An account from the Cooke Family who joined Infinity Expedition in Vanuatu complete with their two year old son, Ethan.

https://cookesabroad.com/2015/10/22/vanuatu-ripablik-blong-vanuatu-infinity-expedition-part-i/comment-page-1/

Andree-Annes experience of sailing on Infinity to Antarctica

http://www.thegreenbackpack.com/revisiting-my-experience-in-the-southern-ocean-and-the-antarctic/

And check out Joel Evans awesome video series he is making on his time sailing and diving from Vanuatu to Papa New Guinea

 

Nice to see someone else’s experience on Infinity, not only different people but different cruising area to where I was. Its also super cool to go traveling with your children!

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After six weeks of very satisfying but rather rough traveling, we arrived in Port Villa, Vanuatu, itching for a brief change of pace from our backpacker-style journey. Tyler’s foot wound was worse and all of us were just plain tired-out so we hunkered down in our new, well-appointed room in Mele Bay. We took our first hot showers in the South Pacific, and watched at least a dozen Game of Thrones episodes while Ethan played in the kids’ recreation room. After a short stretch of relative dormancy we awakened refreshed and ready to be adventurers once again.

We spent the next couple days exploring Port Vila, or ‘Vila’ as its commonly known throughout the South Pacific. Widely regarded as the nicest city in the South Pacific (which isn’t necessarily saying much as most cities in the Pacific are pretty gross), it’s a clean town built along the shores of a…

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Posted by: Andy | December 31, 2015

2015 Adventure Review

Another year of adventure has slipped by at lightning pace. They say time flies when your having fun and this year was no exception. From visiting Africa for the first time (my final continent) to a trip in the Himalaya to see Mt Everest there have been some incredible trips.

The first big adventure fulfilled a lifelong dream of going to Nepal. I went with my friend Sean from university and we trekked independently to Everest Base Camp before soaking up some culture on safari in Chitwan national park and learning to white water kayak. We were in Nepal in February and March and left just before the infamous earthquake hit. We were very lucky since we spent time in Kathmandu exploring ancient sights (many of which were flattened) and also visited Everest Base Camp where so many people were killed in an avalanche. We both loved the country, especially the Himalaya, and were both amazed with how friendly, honest and welcoming the Nepalese were.

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My second big adventure was my first trip to Africa when I visited Tanzania. I met my mum, who had been doing voluntary work there, and went on Safari in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Parks. After our safari, we stretch our legs by climbing Mt Meru (4600m) and watched sunrise over Mt Kilimanjaro. Following our hill climb it was time to relax on Zanzibar before heading home to the French Riviera. Nothing prepares you for the your first time in Africa and I will be back for sure. High up on my list is meeting the gorillas in Rwanda.

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At the moment I am battling a severe bout of itchyfeetitis. The only known remedy is venturing off to explore unknown lands. With this in mind, I am about to head off to Japan to ski their legendary powder until I have to return to work in March.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Go forth, have adventures, live your dreams, have fun, scare yourself, test your limits and remember it’s not the dress rehearsal.

Posted by: Andy | August 17, 2015

Huayna Potosi – My Mt Everest

Last April, I was sitting in the airport at Uruguay waiting for a flight to Bolivia. I started talking to another traveller who reminded me of myself, albeit about a decade younger version. Tom was a climber, skier, adventurer and now sailor having just stepped off a tall ship in Argentina. We were both heading to Bolivia and conversation quickly turned to attempting to climb Huayna Potosi ‘The easiest 6000m peak in the World”.

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Huayna Potosi – 6088m

Prior to this, my highest peak was probably the mighty Ben Nevis in Scotland which towers above all surrounding mountains, by a few metres, and is a whopping 1344m tall.

Despite Huayna Potosi being bigger in meters than Ben Nevis is in feet ( 6088m Vs 4409feet) they are both mountains and require the same approach. You start at the bottom and you finish at the top. Then you take a photo, turn around and retrace your steps to the car, via the pub for essential rehydration.

I was on a tight schedule, which is not ideal for trying to acclimatise. However, with great determination, (stubbornness and coca leaves) one can achieve almost anything. The international airport is at 4061m and the city itself is 3600m. Having been at sea level a few hours before, and having had no sleep due to overnight flights, we weren’t feeling overly fresh. However, we did manage to find a guide and worked out a plan.

Our acclimatization day was very lazy, it involved driving to Chacaltaya ski resort at 5200m and then hiking to the summit at 5421m. Due to climate change (which obviously doesn’t exist) there isn’t enough snow to ski anymore. When thinking of 5000m peaks, normally the image is of fairly extreme mountaineering. Not so much in Bolivia. Chacaltaya must be the easiest 5000m peak in the World. Here, the order of the day isn’t winter boots, crampons and axes, more trainers and possibly a hat. Despite this, the air is still thin and you must stop regularly to catch your breath. Surely, another 1000m vertical couldn’t be much harder?

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Chacaltaya Ski Resort

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Climbing the ridge to the summit of Chacaltaya, my first 5000m peak

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Highest ski tow in the World

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Huayna Potosi – looks easy!

Back at the low altitudes of La Paz, we stocked up on essentials; coca leaves, coca tea and altitude medication.

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Buying coca leaves (Photo curtest of Thomas Bradshaw-Dickson)

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Mountain essentials – high quality nutrition, caffeine and coca leaves

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Coca leaves, coca tea and altitude medication

The following morning was day one of the adventure. From our relatively luxury lodge we trekked up to a glacier to practice winter climbing techniques. This was when I first started to feel the effects of altitude. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our day and walked back for a night of ‘sleep’ (many of us couldn’t sleep due to the height).

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navigation in Bolivian mountains is easy, just follow the road signs

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Our first nights accommodation

We all know that oxygen is required to function. As you gain height, the air is less dense so the relative oxygen content decreases. Below is a table of relative oxygen content for various altitudes. At 6100m we were operating on 9.7% oxygen which is less than half what is found at sea level. Major effects of altitude include; headaches, insomnia and loss of appetite. These are gentle tell tale signs that the body is not happy, in extreme cases death occurs, but only if you have ignored the signs and not reduced altitude and sought oxygen.

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Start of the hike

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Oxygen Vs altitude table ( borrowed from http://www.higherpeak.com )

Day two involved walking from the lodge to the high altitude hut. I really struggled. There was nothing to do once at the hut so I took it slowly to save energy for the summit push. Completely exhausted, I arrived at our uber luxury dwelling at 5500m. The plan was to eat as much food as possible and then get an early night before the summit attempt. Eating was a major challenge. This is not so good since you then have less energy when you need it most.

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Our high altitude hut for a few hours “sleep” before the summit attempt (Photo curtesy of Thomas Bradshaw-Dickin)

Whilst evading sleep, I stared at the inside of my eyelids and enjoyed another headache. The summit push involves walking across a large snowfield on a relatively steep gradient. It is essential to cross this (on the way up and down) before the sun gets too high. Once the sun is high the snowpack is a lot more avalanche prone.

Putting my headache to the side, I got out of my sleeping bag, got dressed properly and set off with my guide and climbing partner, Tom, at 1am. Crossing the snowfield in the dark was a great experience. We made progress under a starlit sky. Other than the crunch of our boots through the snow and the noise of me struggling to breath, there wasn’t a sound to be heard.

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The start of the summit push

My progress up the mountain was painfully slow. After a while, my footsteps became shorter than my feet and I spent longer catching my breath than walking. However, slowly and surely, the summit got closer. Group after group passed us until one of our own groups passed. Another member was struggling so he swapped with Tom and we continued our slow advance.

The very final push involved climbing up a steep snow and ice face before walking along a very narrow ridge with lethal drops on either side. My guide kept asking if I was ok. Of course I was ok, I had my secret weapon with me, my home made coca/energy juice. A whole bag of coca leaves mixed with coca tea and juice crystals. One small sip and your mouth went numb. One large sip and your entire face went numb. Working along the ridge was tediously slow and involved a splitting headache. I didn’t tell the guide that the rope had turned into a snake (sleep deprivation, altitude and coca do funny things to you!).

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Just add hot water, juice crystals and brace yourself for a numb face!

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The final approach to the summit, we had to wait for the existing climbers to leave the small peak, I can just about being seen slumped in a “power nap” (Photo curtest of Kathryn the Aussie)

Eventually, we made it to the summit of my first 6000m peak. Just as we arrived, the sun rose over the horizon and we were rewarded by the most magnificent views over Laka Titicaca in Peru. Our summit photo shows myself and Meint sitting since we didn’t have the energy to stand.

Summit shot on top of Huayna Potasi, 6088m, in Bolivia, you can see the shadow of the mountain over lake Titicaca in Peru

Summit shot on top of Huyani Potasi, 6088m, in Bolivia, you can see the shadow of the mountain over lake Titicaca in Peru

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Above the clouds at sunrise – always a magical experience

I wont bore you all with the details of our descent but what goes up must go down.

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Team line up after we had all successfully summited

The climb was an experience I will never forget. Quite how people climb Everest is beyond me. Earlier on this year I was out in Nepal and made it to the top of a 5800m peak. This time, having acclimatised properly, it wasn’t too bad.

To date, climbing Huayna Potosi is the hardest physical challenge I have ever done. I would recommend it to all seeking adventure, but please, don’t be as silly as me and acclimatise properly!

Posted by: Andy | July 26, 2015

Dear World

Dear World,

I have been enjoying you a lot since my last blog update. I meant to update this much more frequently and share (and hopefully inspire others) with my latest adventures. I am aware that it has been well over a year since my last post.

My issue now is that I have SO many adventures I don’t really know where to start!

Why have I not kept things up to date? Well, err, um, I have been busy and err, how do I put this, lazy and distracted by more adventures than I could have ever dreamed of. So for that I apologise. I am now back. I WILL update regularly and share with you my ever changing, constantly exciting life and adventures!

I have big plans for the blog and want to make it into a travel/adventure magazine featuring other adventurers and inspirational heroes of mine. I am writing all of this so I can be held accountable to myself. Over the coming months, expect to read about those who inspire me plus all of my latest misadventures.

So what have I been up to since I last blogged in March 2014 (just after my Southern Ocean and Antarctica adventure)? Not much, but lowlights include;

Trekking in Chilean Patagonia on the ‘W Trek’ in Torres del Paine National Park.

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Grey Glacier in the Torre del Paines National Park

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Horse in the Torres del Paines National Park, Patagonia

Watching sunrise over Lake Titicaca from the summit of a 6000m peak in Bolivia.

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Summit shot on top of Huyani Potasi, 6088m, in Bolivia, you can see the shadow of the mountain over lake Titicaca in Peru

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Ridge leading to the summit of Huyani Potasi

Trekking to Machu Pichu

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Approaching the Salkantay pass, 4600m, en route to Machu Pichu

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Cheeky Lama photobombing the obligatory Machu Pichu shot

Working as Captain in Greece and Croatia which was terrible and not enjoyable at all.

Commanding a vessel of unruly sailors in Croatia

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Hydra in Greece

Cheeky trip to Singapore for the F1 before revisiting Borneo the Philippines and Palau where I had my first Manta Ray encounter.

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Relaxing at the night grand prix in Singapore

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Freediving in jellyfish lake in Palau

Spending a couple of months in Nepal (just before the earthquake) trekking to Everest Base Camp and going on safari for the first time.

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With my friend Sean at Everest Basecamp just a few weeks before the fatal earthquake and avalanche

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Enjoying the Himalaya near Namche Baazar

My latest adventure is back in the Mediterranean where I am working as Captain on another luxury sailing yacht. So far we have sailed all over the Adriatic, but thats another story….

I will be updating much more frequently and giving some stories from the last year as well as some more recent ones, hit the follow button at the top of the page so you don’t miss out!

If what you have just read wets your appetite, don’t be jealous, be inspired, go have your own adventures and most importantly, inspire others to do the same.

Some days in life stick in your memory like no others. For me, one of my most memorable days was arriving in Antarctica with Infinity Expedition.

 

After 2000NM, and almost three weeks since last sighting land, we finally saw Antarctica. Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see the seventh continent; dramatic mountains blend with glaciers which themselves blend with icebergs and ocean alike. Birds fly overhead whilst penguins and seals share ice drifts. To top it off, a pod of over twenty Orca was our official welcome party. This not only captivated the entire crew for hours but beat any customs officer who normally ‘welcomes’ visiting yachts.

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Arriving in Antarctica under sail, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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Part of our welcome party, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

We anchored off Ridley Beach where a strong current was sweeping chunks of ice past us. With the dinghy in the water, and having defrosted the frozen fuel lines in a bucket of hot water, we were on our way ashore. The entire beach was lined with car sized lumps of ice. The problem was trying to find a safe landing spot. With each wave, all the lumps of ice would move, sometimes quite considerably, and we didn’t want to get crushed or damage our tender.

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Infinity at anchor at Ridley Beach

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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The locals hanging out at the beach, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

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The Borchgrevink hut, oldest building in Antarctica, photo curtesy of Pascal Chabanne

 

Being on land for the first time in weeks is always a novelty, add thousands of penguins and seals to the equation and suddenly you are drunk of life! Ridley Beach is one of the largest penguin rookeries in the World and we were sharing it with tens of thousands of Adelie penguins. Walking along the beach meant bypassing several seals and close encounters with swooping birds.

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Shameless selfie with some penguins

One thing the guide books don’t mention is the stench. Since it gets so little precipitation, Antarctica is a desert. If you didn’t already know, animals don’t use toilets. Combine this with almost zero rainfall, cold temperatures and slowly rotting corpses and you have a serious reek!

 

Visiting the Borchgrevink hut, from 1899, is a real treat. It isn’t every day that you get to go in the oldest building of an entire continent! Stepping inside is like going back to the nineteenth century. The hut and its contents have been preserved and remain the same as a hundred years ago. From old newspaper cuttings to original medicines and supplies, not forgetting old graffiti, the hut is incredible. Add to this its history and you realise what a special place it is. The team that stayed here were the first to winter in Antarctica, they also suffered the first human death on the continent and their expedition was the first of the British Antarctic Survey (despite the team comprising mainly of Norwegians!)

 

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Back aboard Infinity, we were all reflecting on our incredible day. I was on deck when I heard the distinct noise of approaching outboard engines. This was strange since we were in one of the most remote places on Earth. Upon closer inspection I could see the faint outline of a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) approaching with what looked like three black clad Navy Seals in it. “Er Captain, you had better have a look at this, I think we are about to be boarded.” Seconds later a concerned Captain came up on deck. Only as the RIB got really close did we see the logo of the Sea Shepherd.

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Our surprise visitors!

If you have been living under a rock, the Sea Shepherd protect the Worlds Oceans from the planets most deadly predator; mankind. Amongst other campaigns, the Sea Shepherd protect whales in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The Japanese have a hideous “scientific” research programme that involves a kill quota of around a thousand whales a year. Interestingly, not a single scientific paper has been written and much of the mercury laced whale meat ends up in Japanese school canteens (maybe that is instant karma?).

 

With our new friends aboard, we quickly hatched a plan to disrupt the Japanese Whalers but you are going to have to come back in a few days to find out what happened……..

 

In the meantime, if you are bored, be sure to check out my friends blog at http://tourdumondeaudreyetpascal.blogspot.ca they have more photos and stories of our time in Antarctica. For details of Infinity Expedition and their ongoing adventures, check out their website at www.infinityexpedition.org .

Posted by: Andy | April 15, 2014

Southern Ocean “Cruising”

After over 8000nm of sailing, we  finally made it to Chile having visited Antarctica. Despite having already done numerous ocean crossings and spending multiple winters in the French Alps, this trip has been my biggest challenge yet. With a solid yacht, solid crew and not forgetting a solid Captain we have all made it in one piece with memories of a lifetime etched into us. Trying to portray the adventure in mere words is a challenge in itself. I will start with an overview and follow up with another couple of more specific blogs in the coming weeks.

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Infinity at anchor in Cape Adare

 

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Team INFINITY on departure day in Auckland

On the 2nd of April, we had 490NM remaining before we made landfall in Chile. We were gradually making North but were still very far South by usual standards. At 58 degrees South, we were the farthest North that we had been in six weeks. However, to put this into perspective we were still 120NM South of Cape Horn!

At 72 degrees South, we believe we have been the most Southerly sailing yacht in the World for 2014. At this extreme latitude we survived hurricane force winds in ice berg infested waters with waves towering above us and severe windchill. The aftermath of the storm was an ice covered yacht with an exhausted crew facing a 5000NM Southern Ocean passage. In Antarctica, we made it ashore where we were greeted by thousands of penguins and visited the oldest building on the continent, the Borgevick hut from 1899. When we arrived in Antarctica, we had a welcome escort by a pod of over twenty Orca. I have seen whales many times before but never have I come across such curious whales that hung around for so long. The following day we joined forces with Sea Shepherd to hinder the Japanese whaling fleet on their murderous campaign. Following our magical encounter with whales the previous day it felt great to be able to fight on their behalf.

 

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Part of our welcome party in Antarctica

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Ice Berg ahoy!

 

 

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Hanging out with the penguins

 

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Infinity’s bow completely iced up with Antarctica in the background

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Ayack at the helm of Infinity during a Southern Ocean storm

 

After our epic ocean crossing, we had almost 200NM of inland navigation through the fjords before we arrived in Puerto Natales. Our first sunrise in South America was probably the best I have ever seen and following almost four weeks of no sun it was greatly appreciated! Going ashore in a new continent after so long at sea was a fantastic experience. We were fortunate enough to have great sunny weather for our first week which i spent trekking in the nearby Torres del Paine national park.

As much as I love being aboard with Infinity Expedition, it was great to get off!

The trip was a real test of all our character and strength and was completely different to the previous time I sailed with them in the tropics. You can read my Infinity Expedition Review about my time sailing from Borneo to the Marshall Islands.

I will do another update soon, but in the meantime I have a volcano to climb!

 

 

 

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Our first sunrise in South America

Posted by: Andy | January 26, 2014

The next chapter, SOUTH!

Quite a lot has happened since my last update. I am no longer in America, in fact not only am I in a different continent, I am in a different hemisphere!

I am writing from Auckland where i have rejoined the expedition yacht SY Infinity. I sailed on Infinity for six months in 2009. The voyage was incredible, I joined in Borneo and from there we sailed through the Philippines, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. During the trip I learned to dive, dived on some of the best dive sites in the World including WW2 wrecks, swam in the Marianna Trench (deepest water on Earth!), visited some of the most remote Island communities on the Planet and made some incredible friends. Below are a few photos of the first trip.

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Meeting the locals on Oraluk Atol

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Diving on a WW2 wreck in Palau

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Stumbled upon this little guy whilst having a walk in Borneo

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Hanging out with the local kids on Oraluk Atol, Micronesia

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Baby turtles on Mokil Atol

This trip will be very different. We will not be in the tropics, there will be no diving in 32 degree celcius water, there will be no hanging out on beaches eating coconuts. When we leave New Zealand we are heading South East through the Southern Ocean and down to the Antarctic. If all goes to plan we will arrive in the seventh continent in either the Ross Sea or the Amunsden Sea depending on conditions. From there we will hopefully do some penguin spotting and ice berg dodging before once again negotiating the Southern Ocean whilst aiming for Patagonia.

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Some of our new Antarctic survival gear

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The trip is, of course, not without its dangers. With no land masses to break up weather systems or waves, the Southern Ocean is the roughest on the planet. There is the risk of entrapment in ice and the extreme cold and isolation on the Antarctic itself is not to be underestimated. Our aim is not only to go to the Antarctic but also to make it back. If conditions aren’t accommodating we will take the decision to head straight to Patagonia and spend longer cruising the fjords and exploring the mountains.

Amongst our crew, we have three qualified captains as well as two highly experienced engineers. For communications, amongst other tools, we have a live feed from a NASA satellite providing us with almost live information on ice pack via high resolution photos. In Auckland we discovered a military surplus store which sells ex Antarctic Expedition clothing. We are now all kitted out in the warmest and toughest clothing you can imagine. Infinity herself is in great condition, she is a tough can go, does go, anywhere expedition yacht with tens of thousands of miles logged in some of the remotest corners of our oceans.

We aim to leave in the next few days so upon our return to civilisation, some point in April, I will be updating here with a few stories penned en route.

In the meantime I will leave you with the words of Joseph Conrad.

“There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.”

Posted by: Andy | December 18, 2013

Superyachting in the snow, bye bye America!

Images that spring to mind when thinking of super yachting include; warm summers days, drinks on the French Riviera, tropical beaches and racing in the Caribbean but not snow! My last yacht didn’t work out, the yacht was cursed and as the other yachts in the marina started to get replaced by snow and ice it was time to make a move.

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Making snow angels on deck!

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90 foot Gunboat  stepping their carbon fibre mast in a blizzard!

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Snowy Owl in Rhode Island

Not everything in life is meant to be and my last job, which only weeks ago I was super excited about, was definitely not meant to be. In fact, due to a never ending to-do list and less than zero time to accomplish all necessary tasks there ended up being an entire crew mutiny. The final straw was when the water temperature dropped 5 degrees overnight resulting in us not being to run the compressors and heat the yacht. We ended up having to buy electric heaters which biggest effect was tripping our electrics!

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Our Captain embarassed to be having to buy electric heaters to heat a superyacht!

I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason so I am not too bothered about my first mates position not working out. In fact, I ended up coming home and turning up out of the blue at my parents house in Scotland which was a fun surprise. It looks like i will be spending my first Christmas at “home” for five years. I am enjoying catching up with neglected friends and family with some much needed time off. Prior to yesterday, I hadn’t had more than two consecutive days off since last November and my last trip home to see the family had been a grand total of thirteen hours!

The worst part about the whole situation was flying on my birthday and losing five hours due to moving time zones. I am still trying to work out how to get those five hours of birthday back…….

Posted by: Andy | November 9, 2013

Another Summer Afloat

One of the drawbacks of doing seasonal work is having to search for work on an almost permanent basis. Whilst doing ski seasons, by March, I am looking for a suitable yacht to spend my summer on. Last winter I wasn’t having a lot of luck so I carried on doing what I do in winter, skiing almost every day.

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My last day of skiing for the season was Wednesday the 10th of April. I had an epic day of powder and, despite spending four winters in the Espace Killy, found an amazing new descent on my final run.  To make things better, I returned home to an email from a 47m schooner in the Med about a possible position. Thanks to the fast moving nature of the industry, by the 16th I was already in Turkey and my summer adventure had begun.

I joined S.Y Gweilo in Fethiye in Turkey. Moving from the Alps to the Med is always an interesting transition and I swapped living in a snow covered ski town town to being by the sea in almost 30 Celcius. We spent the first few weeks getting the yacht ready after her winter of sitting on the dock. Once she was good to go we did a quick trip in Turkey before going to the North of Croatia for a three week charter finishing in Montenegro. In total, we clocked up almost 5000NM and visited; Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Italy.

S.Y. Gweilo - my summer residence

S.Y. Gweilo – my summer residence

My highlights included visiting Croatia and Montenegro which were both new countries for me. Signs of the, relatively recent, conflict are ever present in Croatia, from bullet holes in buildings to military structures in the hills and along its coast. This, combined with its incredible history stretching from the Romans to modern day Croatia, make it a fascinating country to visit. One of my favourite places there was the Island of Vis.

Vis is still heavily fortified and was the last Island to be reopened to the public after the war. During the war it served as the military command  centre for the country. The interior includes nuclear proof bunkers and missile silos and around the coast are multiple submarine tunnels. The tunnels were used to shelter and hide their submarines as well as for rearming them.

One day during our Croatian charter, I was talking to our principle charterer. He is an extremely wealthy man who has business interests in most time zones and industries. Consequently, he could never actually relax since something was always happening in his empire. On this particular day he was being quite chatty and down to earth. I asked him “where do Croatian pirates come from?” “HVARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH” Thankfully, he thought it was funny since no-one else aboard did. I put it to everyone else that they didn’t understand the comedy genius and explained it in the most patronising and belittling way possible many times. To this day I stand by my joke, it is a great joke, fact.

So if you have managed to read through all my waffle so far then you at least deserve some photos. In no particular order are some of my favourite photos of the summer.

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Submarine Tunnel entrance with military installation above and to the right of it

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Inside the submarine tunnel

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looking out the submarine tunnel

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Roman ampitheatre in Pula, Croatia

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Berthed in Cavtat, Croatia beside M.Y. Fair Lady owned by the Sainsbury family

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Corfu

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Cheeky chappy squeezing into a tight space on the fuel birth

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Emperors Palace in Split, Croatia

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Putting the sail covers on

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Sailing in Greece

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Anchored in Montenegro

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Church on a man made Island in Montenegro

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Kotor, Montenegro

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Tlos, Turkey

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Sunset in Turkey

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Tombs in Fethiye, Turkey

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Kaya Koy, Ghost Town in Turkey

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Our first chef hijacking a marching band in Corfu

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Corfu

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helping the yacht stay upright

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Istanbul

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Interior crew trying to escape

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