Sir Ernst Expedition

The early days of the new year were spent flying across the Atlantic and preparing Sir Ernst. We went from the European winter to Uruguayan summer. After the 24-hour trip, when we were focused on our preparations for the Antarctic, the heat surprised us.

Again the Punta del Este Yacht Club welcomed us with open arms, the whole team going out of their way to help. A few minor repairs, general maintenance, ropework on the halyards, checking the rigging, getting in supplies and refuelling occupied our days. In the evenings we took advantage of the very South American atmosphere in this beautiful seaside town.

Wednesday 5th January, the Punta del Este Yacht Club organised a press conference for Sir Ernst, and a great videoconference between the two Clubs. We were able to converse despite the distance and tell all those present on both sides of the Atlantic about the Sir Ernst expedition project. Everyone is very enthusiastic about following our polar odyssey.

Meanwhile, Yacht Club de Monaco confirmed it would be welcoming four young sailors from Punta del Este and training them for the upcoming Monaco Optimist Team Race [12-16 January].

6th January 2022 at 17:00: Sir Ernst leaves Punta Del Este for Ushuaia 

We are all happy today to be leaving this lively town to head South. The weather looks favourable for the first three days, with a following wind building to 25 knots. Sir Ernst seems to shiver with pleasure as we set the sails and get sailing again. This time we are heading south to the ice, even though today the air temperature is nudging 30°C rather than 0°.

We find the Southern Cross as night falls which indicates the route. The rising moon will brighten our nights more and more. What a pleasure it is to be out on the ocean with the wind, waves, sky, stars and 360o horizon, and to sense our Sir Ernst vibrating again, to live to the rhythm of her movements and noises.

The first 24 hours are special as we have to acclimatise ourselves again to life offshore and forget our onshore habits, to slot in again to the system of watches and get our sea legs back.

There are five of us for this stage. Each does a two-hour stint keeping watch then rests eight hours. If necessary, the one keeping an eye on the boat’s safety and progress gets help from the person who is going to replace them, for example for a manoeuvre involving the sails.

Apart from staying alert during watches, none of the crew is allocated specific tasks. Everyone plays a part in life onboard, depending on their preferences and skills (cooking, washing up, DIY, ropework, etc.).

We’ll tell you more next time.

Thank you everyone for being on the “end of a phone” and see you very soon.

Article written with help from all the crew (François, Hervé, Fabrice, Philippe, Pierre Etienne) at 36°25’S, 55°04’W.