5 Best Experiences in Antarctica

Sailing in Antarctica on Bark Europa

Antarctica is one of the greatest adventures that anyone could have. It is the final frontier, the dream of a lifetime, and an incredible journey. It will remain a top five travel experience in my life. From sailing through 1,000m high mountains of ice that towered over the ship to taking a polar plunge, Antarctica was full of dreamland experiences that are better than your wildest imagination.  To share it all with you would take me months, but I’ve chosen five of my favorite experiences to show you and take you to Antarctica with me. Enjoy the ride.  Continue reading

Catching Sight of the Shore from Bark Europa

Sails on Bark Europa

I failed. Attempts two and three at going aloft on tall ship Bark Europa were unsuccessful. So many others rose to the challenge yet I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I returned to my cabin teary-eyed and discouraged after every try. I was a failure; I had let myself down. Why was I making it so difficult? Why couldn’t I do it? I struggle with accepting defeat. I didn’t want to hear how I can try again or that I don’t have to do it or that it’s okay. I felt angry to even hear the words. I would rather others look me in the face and say, “Wow, you really blew that one” than to try and make me feel better. I’m angry at myself for being defeated and I’m angry at others for encouraging defeat. I need someone to say that it’s not ok to quit. I need someone to say that I’m not a coward so stop acting like one. I need to climb up those rungs with someone behind me that won’t let me down until I do it. I need to try until I can’t see through the tears or until I fall then I need to try more. Why do we say it’s okay when someone can’t conquer their fears? Why do we immediately default with accepting fear? Is it unhuman to expect greatness?

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My Wildest Travel Dream Comes True – Setting Foot on Antarctica

Penguins on Aitcho Island, Antarctica

After 5 long days of sailing through the dreaded Drake Passage, one of my wildest travel dreams became a reality – I set foot on Antarctica. We anchored near Barrientos Island, one of the Aitcho Islands. Everywhere around the ship, I saw penguins jumping out of the water. I couldn’t contain my elation. I was like a child brimming with excitement. When the dinghies took us ashore and I came face to face with Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, I took hundreds of photos and videos. I wanted to capture every second of the experience. Continue reading

Into the Drake Passage – Sailing to Antarctica on Bark Europa

On Lookout in the Drake Passage

One of our duties on Bark Europa was to be on watch during our sail through the 450NM dreaded Drake Passage on our way to Antarctica. I had heard about the Drake and how extreme it can be. It’s known as one of the most difficult sailing passages in the world and the Dog Watch from 12 pm until 4 am sounded nasty. My Dog Watch, however, was remarkable! I was alive. The ship took on a life and made me feel in control and powerful. At the helm, I was controlling the wind and the sea and the sails. It was a huge rush. At 4:00 am after my watch, I could have run a marathon I was so full of adrenaline. Continue reading

More Difficult than I Anticipated – Sailing to Antarctica on Bark Europa

Climbing Aloft on Bark Europa

The training on Bark Europa began almost immediately. Crossing the ocean properly with a square rigger under sail is a team effort and we were encouraged to participate. We weren’t even 30 minutes away from the fueling station and we helped with setting the sails. Enthusiastically, we moved about listening intently to the instructions given to us by the permanent crew. I wanted my adventure to be as much a learning experience as possible and I was eager to participate. Without the internet, we had to rely on the crew for all of our knowledge. Instructions were given for watch responsibilities, basic sail theory, line handling, steering, and navigation. In order to fully participate, climbing the rigging was an essential part of our training. I thought climbing would be the least of my worries since I don’t fear heights and I’m experienced in rock climbing and rappelling. As I made my way up the ladder over the growing ocean waves, I quickly felt out of my element. This was going to be more difficult than I anticipated.  Continue reading

The End of the World & The Beginning of a New One – My Journey to Antarctica

Setting Sails on Bark Europa

Antarctica was everything I envisioned it would be. It was the most dramatic landscape with unique, unexpected experiences daily. There is so much I want to share with you and so many photos that I wish I could just post it all in one day but I’m going to try to pace myself. I’ll start at the end of the world, Ushuaia and bring you on a fantastical journey to Antarctica and back aboard tall ship, Bark Europa. Continue reading

What to Pack for an Antarctica Sailing Adventure

Bark Europa in Antarctica

On January 11, 2015, less than two weeks from now, I will embark on what could be the greatest travel adventure of my life. As part of the sailing crew on Bark Europa, I will cross the Drake Passage and sail to Antarctica from Argentina. I have no question that it will be a remarkable, life-changing voyage, but there are a few things that I can pack to make it more comfortable and warm. With the support of Whitecaps Marine Outfitters and Pilotur, I now have my packing complete. Continue reading

What’s In Store For Me on Bark Europa & In Antarctica

Bark Europa from Above

2014 was a kick-a** year! I visited 12 new countries, I finally crossed off an African Safari and scuba diving, and I completed every item on my 2014 list. Somehow, I think 2015 is going to be better. Is it possible? Who knows? I’m certainly going to try and to start the year off right, I’m sailing to Antarctica with Bark Europa. I will visit the last two continents that I haven’t set foot on, Antarctica and South America, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Continue reading