And then the time has come: on Monday, February 5, at around 7 p.m., we cast off the lines for good and leave Puerto Williams with Antarctica as our destination. The Sailing SOUTH 2024 expedition can begin.

The last few days have shown that we harmonize well as a team – whether this will also be confirmed at sea and for the long seven weeks in the confined space of the Selma remains to be seen. But the signs are good. The atmosphere on board is great, everyone on deck has a big grin on their face.

We leave the Beagle Channel heading east under engine power, the weather is at its best as we say goodbye and presents us with sunshine and warm evening light. We pass Harberton Bay, where we were just a few days ago. The memory of Pablo, his small hut and the comparatively huge pile of firewood is still fresh. When the second truckload arrives in mid-February, we will be on our way.

We see the blow of two whales from a distance, two penguins emerge from the water right next to the Selma. There is a penguin colony (Magellanic penguins) on an island nearby, the smell gives it away immediately even as we pass by.

Ursula and I share the first watch and thus also the helm. As beautiful and promising as the first few days were: It is so wonderful to finally be here at the helm of the Selma and start this journey, steering our beautiful red ship and us towards our actual destination.

Tierra del Fuego passes us by, Argentina to port, Chile to starboard.

We on the Selma are in the middle of it all, gliding out into the night with the setting sun behind us.

We leave the last Chilean islands in the Beagle Channel, Isla Picton and Isla Lennox, to starboard and then we are out on the Atlantic and change course to 180 degrees south.

The Drake Passage, one of the stormiest ocean passages in the world, lies ahead of us. We are all curious to see how the Drake will receive us over the coming days.

We set sail in the deep night, first the jib, then the main. The Milky Way shines above us, stretching across the firmament from bow to stern, and the Southern Cross occasionally kisses the top of our mast. This moment is simply pure happiness and deep contentment.

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