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Thursday, March 23, 2023

A one-of-a-kind route to Antarctica

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The water entered after silicon seals detached from holes where cables passed from the bow to the stern. To patch the holes, he had to remove the cables that powered systems to measure water temperature, depth and wind speed.

For 12 days, he sailed north-east, increasingly limited by damaged navigational systems. By the time de la Rosa arrived on South Georgia he had travelled 2,380km in 26 days through the roughest seas on the planet. He crossed almost twice the distance Shackleton faced from Elephant Island to South Georgia and is in even more awe of the 1916 feat than before.

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“With Shackleton’s boat, it would have been brutal,” de la Rosa told me. “It must have been a terrifying voyage.”

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The White Continent continues to draw people south, despite the dangers. According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), 73,670 people visited Antarctica on cruise ships in the 2019-2020 season. They estimate that the 2022-2023 season could be back to pre-pandemic levels.

Even with tens of thousands of people visiting the region, de la Rosa was happy to see no refuse on his oceanic expedition or in South Georgia. Dolphins occasionally accompanied him and petrels sailed by, giving him quizzical looks.

“Even though it seems humans have left our mark everywhere, I barely saw it here,” de la Rosa said. “It’s something we should be proud of and show the rest of the planet that it’s possible.”


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