Polish-Czech expedition sets naval record off Antarctica

Photo : ČTK

Only days ago a Polish-Czech expedition set a new naval record – sailing The Selma – a steel yacht – to the Ross Sea off Antarctica and setting the record for the southernmost point ever reached by a similar vessel. They reached the latitude of 78 degrees 43 minutes south after roughly one month’s journey. Along the way, the crew had to navigate both stormy waters and ice.

Photo: CTK
Due to ice, icebergs and rough waters, Antarctica’s Ross Sea is one of the least accessible in the world, an area where icebreakers, not yachts, operate. But a Czech-Polish expedition has proven while difficult, the feat is doable.

Crewmembers not only reached the Bay of Whales off Antarctica, they set a new record, reaching the southernmost point ever with such a vessel. The crew of 11 includes Czech Dušan Jamný, who described some of the events of the past few days by satellite phone:

Dušan Jamný (top right), photo: CTK
“After achieving success, we sailed along the Ross Ice Shelf and it was around -20 degrees Celsius with winds of about 100km/h. Four days were very interesting when the deck was completely frozen and covered in ice and we had to chip away at it. When we reached Ross Island, the weather suddenly improved dramatically, the wind dropped to zero and everything was very beautiful.”

During their month-long journey the boat performed admirably and technology without glitches. Almost. The Czech crew member again:

“There was a storm, not in the sense that we saw rain but when waves were between five and seven metres high and the wind was around 30 knots. When we reached the Ross Sea, specifically ice surrounding it, we had to decide which way to head next to find an opening. Then we were sailing past ice.

“In terms of the technological apparatus, everything is working now but when everything was frozen, nothing worked expect for the sails, but they worked fine. Things froze, like the filter on the motor, but that was expected and everything is ok now.”

Photo: CTK
Mr Jamný said he had planted a Czech flag on the Ross Ice Shelf, but said images would be released only later, as the transfer of digital data from the yacht was somewhat limited. Having achieved what they set out to do the crew will set sights on the return journey: some 6,000 miles to go, Mr Jamný said, before they reached Argentina.