Our time in the Weddell Sea was as unexpected as it was fantastic. Originally not planned at all (except perhaps to point the bow into the Antarctic Sound), this change of plan turned into a very special experience. We actually managed to round James Ross Island!

Fortune favors the brave, they say. We are very lucky to have a curious, adventurous skipper in Piotr, who – like us – is interested and keen to explore new, unknown paths rather than well-trodden ones, preferring to go on a voyage of discovery in unknown places rather than heading for familiar destinations. We were lucky enough to have the right conditions (ice, weather) and took advantage of them. Whether we did it well or not, it was always the right decision.

We were rewarded with a successful rounding – an absolute rarity for a small sailing yacht, if not perhaps even a first. We don’t know. But what we do know is that the conditions rarely make such an undertaking possible at all. The weather is too uncertain and there is usually too much ice in this part of the Weddell Sea, even in the Antarctic summer. Even the large and much more powerful expedition cruise ships are hardly ever to be found here. We didn’t see a single one of them.

We were greeted by a landscape that is second to none and cannot be compared with that of the west side of the Peninsula.

In Duse Bay, we entered the Antarctic continent for the first time at View Point. The volcanic island of Beak Island greeted us magically bathed in fresh snow, a dream in black, brown and white, and gave us a little morning snowball fight. We swapped our wellies for hiking boots and had time to explore on our own in the sun, freezing cold and icy wind: hikes, small lakes, summit bliss and a magnificent panoramic view. Skuas vehemently defended their nests and chicks. We almost stumbled over fur seals on the black beach, peppered with white blocks of ice glowing in the sun.

We struggled unsuccessfully through thick drift ice and darkness in Prince Gustav Channel for a night in search of a suitable anchorage, paving our way with the ice pole, paths repeatedly turning out to be wrong turns, the ice closing impenetrably in front of us or filling a targeted bay from the outset. Try and error, back and forth, one failed attempt followed by another. For the first time, we realized first-hand the power of this ice. How strong and powerful it is, how close success and failure are.

The Herbert Channel again confronted us with a lot of ice, almost 40 knots of wind and plenty of waves on the nose. We found shelter on the south side of Vega Island, near Cape Lamb, enjoyed some peace and quiet after a strenuous night’s sailing and later discovered lots of fossils on land, proving that it didn’t always look like it does now.

We didn’t find the devil on Devil Island, but we did find a large colony of Adelie penguins, and we spent a few hours immersed in their hustle and bustle.

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