Sailing to Antarctica

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Sonabia 2 – Antarctica

See also  Cape Horn circumnavigation

Sailing expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula from Puerto Williams,  with Sonabia 2.


Antarctic, ice and wild life

The Antarctic continent is the Ice World. It is also a world of sea wild life, e.g., whales, seals, penguins,  due to the abundance of nutrients in its waters, e.g. kril.

The Antarctic Peninsula faces South America. It can be sailed during the austral summer, from the end of december to the end of march.

We sail between islands covered with ice or snow, in the middle of floating ices (growlers), often shaped as fantastic animals.

Melchior Islands

Brabant Island

Paradise Bay, base Videla

Port Lockroy, Goudier Island



Floating ice

The Drake Passage

Between America and Antarctica is the Drake Passage, one of the most fearful seas of the planet, because of its strong gales and  its waves.

Today the navigation tools (electronic charts, weather forecasts, communications) allow crossing the Drake safely when the weather allows it.

“safely” does not mean “quietly”. We must sometimes sail in heavy weather otherwise the waiting time is unreasonably large.

Overall, it takes about one week from Puerto Williams, sometimes up to 12 days. The crossing itself takes between 3 and 4 days.

2022 02 05 Crossing the Drake towards Antarctica on Sonabia 2. Wind 25 knots and more

In the Antarctic

In the Antarctic Peninsula we only sail by day. The sea conditions are generally good. There may be occasional strong winds but no dangerous waves.
We spend every night moored at anchor. There is a list of predefined sites but the actual route is unpredictable, depending on the weather and the ice.

In several sites it is possible to go aground to watch animals.  Often there is no need to go aground, we can watch animals from the boat or the tender.

The behavior rules are strict, set by the Antarctic Consortium (you can read them aboard Sonabia 2).

Obviously, a sailship with few crews causes less pollution and disturbance to the animals than the big vessels that disembark  hundredth of tourists. However this is no reason to skip the rules.

2022 02 13 – Port Lockroy and Goudier Island.

Sailing expedition

Total duration 4 weeks. Tipically:
    • 1 week to cross the Drake southwards.
In case of adverse weather, we wait as much as possible in Puerto Williams before starting.
When it is impossible to wait longer, we start and we wait in  Puerto Toro, Caleta Lenox or in the Wollaston Islands., close to Cape Horn. There is also plenty to see in these places.
    • 2 weeks in the Antarctic Peninsula.

The actual route depends on the weather, the  ice and/or the wishes of the people. There is no strict planning. It is the anti “organized tour”

    • 1 week to cross back the Drake.

If we have to wait, we stay in the Melchior Islands, a spectacular site.

Sailing season? End of December to end of March.


Weather? Cold, sometimes below zero. There are warm sunny days but also chilly winds and snow.

Outdoor, we need warm clothing. In the cabin it is OK, the boat is heated 24/7.

How many people? 3 to  5 people + captain + crew

Who can go? Highly motivated, healthy and mentally strong people (we observed psychotic episodes due to the stress). Age is not really important.

Budget, travel, accomodation?  contact us

Legal aspects. Sonabia 2 is affiliated to the non-profit association Navigation, Mer et Nature.


[1] courtesy Thomas Niaucel