The Scotia Sea: talking about kit

Leaving the Peninsula From Elephant Island we set out north east across the Scotia Sea. That is the area of the South Atlantic bounded by an arc of islands that make a half-moon from Argentina through the Falklands and South Georgia, down to the South Sandwich Islands and then curve … Continue reading

A is for: an #antarcticalphabet

Antarctica lies hidden behind the cold-current fringes of the Southern Ocean, ancient lands shrouded in white and blue. Sleeping Beauty, bramble-fenced, breathing in rhythm with the tick of the clock, awaits the destined prince. Cold, storied emblems of passivity and pride. Amundsen and Shackleton have come and gone though Scott remained, … Continue reading

Women writing sea poetry? Not much of it about.

The sheets of my heart snapped taut to breaking, as a gale stronger than longing filled the sail inside me. There’s lovely, but more widely I find a dearth of strong poetry about the sea by women. There’s plenty of great poems by men of course, most famously John Masefield’s thundering … Continue reading

Staying the right way up: wind and knots

I have just downloaded the US Sailing Directions to Antarctica, a weighty tome full of dark warnings. The British would call it the Pilot Book, the detailed description of the coastline and sailing conditions of the area. (The Admiralty Pilot is not available electronically and costs at least £60.)  In addition to … Continue reading

Pulchritudinous Pirates Women on tall ships (part 2)

Pirates always excite the imagination, at least the ones on tall ships in the Golden Age. Stevenson’s and Barrie’s fantasies played their part in the popularisation and Johnny Depp has a lot to answer for. Now there’s even International Pirate’s Day. The wicked, bare-breasted, cutlass-wielding woman pirate is an alluring … Continue reading

Feeling seasick: throw up and carry on

I get seasick. Not just a little nauseous, but aggressively, stomach-emptyingly, endlessly sick. I can be seasick in a puddle. Over several thousand sea miles I can grade key trips by their vomit quotient. Top of the list remains Sines to Sines in Portugal when we beat for hours in … Continue reading