PROGRAMME 2022 - 2023

Pelagic Australis in Antarctica - December 2020 - February 2021

Photo Simon van Damm

This cruise along the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula will take in one of the most scenic and varied parts of the continent. Pelagic Australis will be a mobile base camp and we will be making several shore landings during the course of the time on the Peninsula, but our style, unlike a cruise ship, is more time spent in fewer areas with a flexible plan overall.  See below for detailed itinerary of the standard cruise. To find out more about the destination generally see destination Antarctica.  To make a booking or for more information please e-mail Skip Novak.

Stephen Venables video of Humpback Whales Antarctica 2019


Trip 1 - 1 - 21 Dec 2020 - Antarctica Ice with Everything.  See below for details

Trip 2 - 2 Jan - 1 Feb 2021  -  Antarctica Ice with Everything. See below for details

Trip 3 - 8 Feb - 8 Mar 2021 - Antarctica Climbing and Ski Randonnee with Stephen Venables.  Email Stephen at for more information

Antarctica dive option


The voyage would begin and end in Puerto Williams Chile which is on the south side of the Beagle Channel. The guests would fly into Puerto Williams and come immediately on board with the beginning of the crossing of the Drake Passage (weather permitting) the following day. Considering the traverse there and back, it is envisaged that the group would have 12 days on the Peninsula for shore landings and exploring.


This may confound your travel agent. Puerto Williams is serviced once daily by air by DAP from Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan, that is in turn serviced three times daily by Lan Chile from Santiago. 

The plane is usually a Dash 7 and you land on a runway right next to the Beagle Channel. We will be there to meet you on arrival. The boat is a five minute car ride away.

For flight information in Tierra Del Fuego in particular getting to and from Puerto Williams and Punta Arenas contact:

Catalina Navarrete B. ANTARCTIC AIRWAYS
Direct phone: 56-61-2616124
Mobile: +569 99392684 - +569 93461487
Address: O'Higgins 891 - Punta Arenas - Chile
E-mail: -


For clients spending a night in Puerto Williams either before or after the cruise, we recommend the following:

+56 61621721
This is the only luxury hotel in Puerto Williams and highly recommended for a soft start to the trip.

Hostel Pusaki
+56 61621116
fax +56 61621224


Per person 18,000 USD per person which is all inclusive of food and drink once on board. A maximum of eight guests is envisaged.

This cost includes the use of Sail Racing sailing foul weather gear, all personal safety equipment for sailing (lifejacket, harness) and the use of the Inmarsat communications equipment. (note: satime is billed separately as used).


Pelagic Australis is run as a 'dry ship' when at sea and possibly at some anchorages when there is a real possibility of having to 'up anchor' and move off. This is at the Skipper's discretion. In port reasonable amounts of alcohol can be consumed but excessive alcohol consumption that leads to situations putting people at risk, or where the harmony of life on board is disturbed to an extent that other guests are made uncomfortable will not be tolerated. If this situation arises, the Skipper reserves the right to return to port and to disembark any Charterer at an intermediary port, or disembark the entire group in a group charter if necessary.


By convention with the Antarctic Treaty, the Government of South Georgia and agreed by IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) RPAV’s are not allowed to fly in these regions other than for commercial purposes (professional filming) or for ice navigation. If you are intending to make a commercial film, then you will have to submit your license, equipment specification and flying CV to the relevant authority so a permit can be applied for. For amateurs this is not allowed, so please do not bring them in your luggage expecting to fly. You will be refused by the captain. For professionals there are RPAV’s guidelines available on request.  

Drone video highlights 2017 season


It must be understood that the itinerary outlined below can only be a rough guide to what we will see and do while on the Antarctic Peninsula. Every cruise will vary due to weather and ice conditions, making it impossible (nor desirable) to fix a rigid plan.


Board Pelagic Australis in Puerto Williams Chile. The afternoon is spent stowing personal gear, familiarizing the team with the vessel and having a safety briefing. On a trip coinciding with New Years Eve this can be spent tied up alongside the ‘Micalvi,’ - a ruined Chilean naval vessel cum Yacht Club.


Clear out of Puerto Williams and head east through the Beagle Channel and turn south through the Cape Horn archipelago. Weather permitting, we will sail directly across the Drake Passage for the Peninsula. On the other hand, if the forecast is for strong headwinds, or risk of storm, we will shelter in any number of three anchorages within the archipelago. If we are storm bound for a day or two while the system moves through, there are opportunities for long walks ashore on the rugged terrain of Tierra del Fuego.

DAYS 2-5

Crossing the Drake Passage to first shelter on Deception Island should take no more than 60 hours. It is emphasized again that if storm winds are forecasted, a day or two waiting in the Cape Horn archipelago will be necessary until a safe and comfortable crossing can be made.

Crossing the Drake in 45 knots of breeze

DAYS 4-5

Pelagic Australis amongst the volcanic steam at Deception Island

Arrive on Deception Island in the South Shetland archipelago. This is a semi active volcanic island and we enter the lagoon which is the flooded caldera.  The landscape is unique in the Antarctic region as the island’s shape is a combination of volcanic ash and layers of ice. One night and day will be spent here rigging the boat for inshore sailing, briefing the team on the Antarctic guidelines with respect to the wildlife and taking any number of walks ashore which can include a visit to Whalers Bay, the site of the first commercial whaling operation in the region. On the day of departure, sea conditions permitting, we will try to land on the southeast corner of Deception where there is one of the largest Chinstrap Penguin colonies in the Antarctic.


Sail south for the Gerlache Straits. This can be done overnight (in relative daylight) as the majority of the passage is offshore through the southern portion of the Bransfield Straits. From the northern section of the Gerlache Straits, we would navigate in between Anvers Island and Weincke Island – the Neumayer Channel - and then continue south towards the Penola Straits. 

From here on South, Humpback Whales will be in abundance, so we can divert at any time to try and get close to them, which involves turning off the engine and drifting, hoping they come to us. Leopard Seals can also be approached as they ride the ice floes feeding off the penguin population.


Early morning sail through the Lemaire Channel which is a narrow, ice filled passage fringed between the high mountains of Booth Island and the mainland. This is considered to be the most scenic stretch of water on the Peninsula and hence its nickname, “Kodak Valley!”

We would spend the day in the Penola Straits, with a possible temporary anchorage off Hovgaard Island. This and the nearby Pleneau Island are good places for a walk ashore where a small colony of Elephant Seals reside. The night would be spent anchored off Booth Island with stern lines to the shore on either side of an isthmus depending on which way the wind was blowing.


In the middle of Penola Straits lies Yalour Island which is one of the most attractive Adelie Penguin colonies on the Peninsula. On a sunny day, the views across to Mt. Shackleton and the peninsula plateau beyond are spectacular. In good weather we would anchor off here for the morning and go ashore.

Adelie Penguins play by the bow of Pelagic Australis.  Photo Simon van Damm

The afternoon and night would be spent only a few miles away at the Ukrainian scientific station Vernadsky. This was formerly the British Antarctic Survey base Faraday, where the "Ozone Hole" was discovered with the Dobson spectrameter which is still in use today. We normally get a good welcome and a tour from the base commander. The anchorage is very protected and we moor to the shore in a narrow backwater in the small archipelago of the Argentine Islands. This is also the most secure of storm anchorages. This is probably the best example of one of the old Peninsula bases that is still functioning.

DAYS 8-11

Three days would be spent probing south into the Grandidier Channel and possibly into Crystal Sound. Since last year’s sea ice is very unpredictable, it is never sure how far we can get on the inside passage, so we may have to backtrack and go on the outside via the Pitt Islands where we have good shelter. On the outside of the island chain the big icebergs are usually stacked up touching the bottom and breaking up. If there is a swell running it is dramatic to see them heaving up and down and not uncommon to see quite a few capsize.

The culmination of the voyage and the goal on this stretch would be to reach the level of the Antarctic Circle and land on the mainland. If we can make it through the inside we would shelter near Prospect Point at the Fish Islands. Prospect Point is the site of an old British Antarctic Survey base that was abandoned in the 50’s and is soon to be removed. An interesting place if it is still standing!

This will be a highly variable (and therefore the most interesting part of the voyage for some people!) part or the cruise, as the landscape here is open and stunning, but on the other hand very challenging as the good shelters for the vessel are few and far between. This is where we "suck it and see" for a better turn of phrase.

DAYS 12,13,14

Aggregate lost time assumed due to unnavigable conditions. We would be storm bound somewhere!

DAY 15

Working our way back up north through the Penola and Lemaire Channels we would anchor and put lines ashore to Weincke Island near Port Lockroy. This has become the de facto visitor center for the cruise ship trade, but it is always worth a visit. Formerly a British Antarctic Survey base and recently renovated as an information center, they provide the service of a British Post Office selling stamps, post cards, information sheets, maps, etc. The base, manned in summer only, has been declared a Site of Historic Interest within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty System. The base was originally built on a Gentoo Penguin colony and today the humans are still very much the guests.

DAY 16

Going south about Weincke Island back into the Gerlache we would steam for a few hours into Paradise Harbour, again spotting Humpback Whales along the way. The night could be spent at Cuverville Island (bird and seal populations) to the north or within the Melchior Archipelago between Anvers and Brabant Islands.

DAY 17

Eventually, the Melchoir Islands are the best place to jump off from for the return passage across the Drake. By Day 16, we should be watching the weather closely for an opportunity to cross. The downside is an early departure, but any spare days can be spent near Cape Horn with a visit to Horn Island possible. The risk of a late departure is missing a favorable pattern and still being there on Day 20! When needed, we are using a weather router in America so we can predict the situation for about five days in advance.

DAYS 18-20

Recrossing the Drake Passage and/or spare days at Cape Horn.

DAY 21

Puerto Williams, last night on board.

DAY 22

The guests would fly back to Punta Arenas and connect to Santiago.


Equipment List 1 - For expedition cruises to Antarctica, South Georgia, Tierra del Fuego and all Arctic destinations.

Please  e-mail Skip Novak  for more information or to make a booking.

An account of one of our "Sailing to Climb" trips to Antractica in January 2016 40 minute video

Ski randonne Antarctica video

Click image to watch 20 minute video of our 2013 sailing to climb expedition to Antarctica


 photo Simon van Damm