SKIRR Adventures’ debut expedition, a 4,802nm long high latitude expedition to some of the most remarkable and remote places on the planet has departed from Gosport.
Created by Clipper Ventures, the organisation that runs the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the SKIRR Adventures expedition is bringing together explorers from around the globe with a thirst for adventure to embark on sailing trip like no other, bound for Iceland and Greenland via Scotland and the Faroe Islands.
On why SKIRR Adventures was born, Founder of Clipper Ventures Sir Robin Knox-Johnston says: “There is a thirst for adventure out there – people want a holiday that’s more interesting – something to talk about at the end. On a boat like this you are going where cruise liners cannot – this is a proper adventure. We can’t say for sure what the programme will be – we don’t know until we get there. Can we get through the ice? Great, we’ll see what we can do when we are through the ice. We can’t guarantee every stop ashore.”
Describing his experience of the polar regions, he says: “I’ve been to the Arctic six times and it is a different world, it’s very clean, pretty uninhabited, and where the SKIRR boats are going – the east coast – less than 4000 people live on the whole coast, and it’s a beautiful place. But, there is a lot of ice around and you need to treat it with a lot of caution – it’s like floating rock. The icebergs are fantastic – incredible sights.”
The journey to the high latitudes of the Arctic is exhilarating and not for the faint-hearted. Once moored, the crew will have a chance to explore icescapes closer to shore and guides will lead day expeditions ashore amongst some of the most imposing yet spectacular landscapes shaped by the forces of nature. The experiential voyage, by sea and land meets the growing demand for sailing adventures and unique, memorable experiences.
Open to everyone who has the relevant sailing experience, the expedition is bringing together 49 adventurers taking part across the five legs, from ten different nations and a wide age range – notably one of the eleven female participants is aged 70.
With unrivalled expertise and experience, the adventure is an opportunity of a lifetime to get close to nature in this remote part of the world, during a seemingly endless summer, with long days and short nights. The expedition’s Shore Leader, Jason Franks comments: “Safety is so important to us. We’re going into places that are new – we need to make sure the quality of the snow and ice is ok for us to move around – we don’t have technical gear so we need to be aware of the conditions.”
Exploring in this way offers a deeper understanding of the region’s conditions and climate, and its changing landscape. Sir Robin notes: “The ice is getting less; it doesn’t take much in terms of a rise in temperature to do it. We can take people to see for themselves and bring back the message. If we make politicians understand just how serious the situation is then we are doing everyone a favour.”
Skipper Bob Beggs who will lead one of two SKIRR Adventures boats on the trip says: “It excites me that we are going by sail – lots of people go on ice-breaking cruise liners but using diesel engines. We want to leave it cleaner than we found it.”
With a military background and having spent every winter for ten years in the arctic, mostly land-based, he commented: “I am looking forward to re-visiting the Arctic and from a different perspective and experiencing the sea ice and managing it with a small boat.”
Ahead of the departure, crew member Greg Glover from New Zealand, who’s sailing experience was mostly accumulated from circumnavigating the globe in the 2017-18 edition of the Clipper Race, exclaimed: “I don’t think there’s a place on the planet that man hasn’t been to and going to places like Iceland, Greenland and the Antarctic are the last bastions of tourism on the planet so it’s nice to be involved in the early stages, before it is touched too much by people. This is a brilliant way to go in – sailing in quietly and not contributing anything in our wake to the environment, and on the small boats we can share this experience in an intimate way.”
He continued: “It’s going to be fascinating from a science point of view and from an environmental point of view and just trying to figure out what we can do to make things better, and more sustainable in the future. The most important thing to me is not to make an impact.
“I’m looking forward to being in an environment that I never imagined I’d be in. We have plenty of kit to keep us warm, we should be dressed for the environment and sailing in and amongst the wildlife, the Fjords and ice – it’s just so far from everyday sailing.”
The full round-trip will take eight weeks to complete, with adventure seekers having chosen one leg, several stages, or are completing all five legs. Under the power of sail, onboard the 68-foot fully-adapted expedition yachts, the crew will explore pristine waters and imposing landscapes.
Due to the nature of this expedition, some previous sailing experience has been required to take part – Clipper Race training, RYA Day Skipper or equivalent experience.
Leg 1: Gosport – Tobermory – Oban
Leg 2: Oban – Vestmannaeyjar Westman Island – Reykjavik
Leg 3: Reykjavik – Tasiilaq – Reykjavik
Leg 4: Reykjavik – Isafjordur – Scoresby Sound – Reykjavik
Leg 5: Reykjavik – Vagar (Faroe Isles) – Gosport