The time has finally arrived. I booked my Atlantic Odyssey expedition with Oceanwide-Expeditions back in June. I will be sailing on the MV Plancius and the total time onboard will be 27 days. I embark Sunday from Ushuaia, Argentina; which is the southernmost city in the world. I disembark nearly 4 weeks later on Ascension Island where I will catch a military flight to the United Kingdom. It is quite a journey and will be the longest time I’ve ever spent on a boat. We visit some of the worlds most remote islands. Here are some details about my Atlantic Odyssey expedition.
I have been mulling over doing the Atlantic Odyssey expedition for 6-7 years to be honest. I have always hesitated because of the time commitment involved. All in, it will be a month away from home with little connection to the outside world at all.
I am concerned about 2 things. Wi-Fi is supposed to be very slow and expensive on board the Plancius. I have actually borrowed my friend Colin O’Brady’s Iridium satellite Wi-Fi that he used on the summit of Mount Everest. I am hoping this will help me reasonably stay on top of emails, texts and maybe even upload a photo or two. I won’t know how it will work until I get out there so I hope for the best but fear the worst. It is just very hard for me to disappear offline for several weeks. I have too many responsibilities so I have taken all steps I can to help.
I’m also nervous about sea conditions in the Southern and South Atlantic Oceans. I have heard all the horror stories about the Drake Passage like everyone else. All I can do is hope and take preventative medicines ahead of time to combat motion sickness.
In all my time on boats I have only gotten seasick once, on the horrific Tokelau expedition several years ago. But that had more to do with the engine exhaust building up in the galley than even the storm so I am hopeful I’ll be OK. But if the swells are too big I’ll be sick as a dog just like everyone else.
So with these issues why would I want to go on this Atlantic Odyssey expedition? There are essentially 3 reasons that I would subject myself to this.
First, I am dying to go to South Georgia Island. South Georgia is where the most penguins anywhere live. There are millions of varied penguin species with King Penguins being the most dominant. I saw many King Penguins in the Falkland Islands. These are different than the Emperor Penguins I visited during my failed first South Pole expedition when Prince Harry prevented me from reaching the South Pole or the second time when I made it to the South Pole. I can’t wait to see them!
South Georgia is also home to whaling stations and is the final resting place for famed Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. I look forward to paying homage to a man who died in pursuit of a dream that was the South Pole.
South Georgia is part of the Falkland Islands dependencies of Antarctica according to the Travelers Century Club. So I’m not exactly sure what that means but it will be the closest we get to the continent of Antarctica on this Atlantic Odyssey expedition. I opted against going to the Antarctic Peninsula as I’ve already been to the ice twice and I would’ve had to cross the Drake Passage twice and spent another 8-9 days away had I opted in.
Second, I have 6 places left on the Travelers Century Club (TCC) list; which is now at 325 destinations. I have currently visited 319 and this will land me 3 others assuming all goes according to plan. I kind of stopped caring about finishing the Travelers Century Club list a few years ago. However, I went to Bata, Equatorial Guinea for my first new TCC destination since reaching the South Pole in 2014 and I sort of got re-motivated to do the remaining few. At least the ones I can control.
The Atlantic Odyssey is to call on the Tristan de Cunha Archipelago, which includes Tristan de Cunha; the most remote inhabited place in the world; Gough Island; Nightingale Island; and Inaccessible Island amongst other nameless islands. These are some very difficult islands to land on so I am hoping for the best.
Last year the Atlantic Odyssey couldn’t land in Tristan de Cunha so they had to resort to an uninhabited island in the archipelago and basically do a touch and go. I am hoping that doesn’t happen this year. I would like to see the inhabited island and play golf-yes you can golf there!
The other two TCC destinations I will visit are St. Helena; where Napoleon was famously exiled to and died on. It is also home to what may end up as the greatest aviation folly of all-time. The St. Helena Airport; which was built at a cost of some $400 million is unable to have planes land because they didn’t check the winds before they built it! It’s currently too dangerous. It will be interesting to see what happens with that!
Finally Ascension Island should be the 322nd TCC destination for me. I’m told this island is quite boring by many who have been before so I feel fortunate that I will only be there 2 days as I was able to get confirmed on the earliest flight out possible up to Brize Norton in the UK.
Ascension is an interesting place in theory. It is a British military base and was a staging area for the Falklands War. It’s also home to NASA equipment and one of 4 GPS towers in the world. The others are in Kwajalein, Diego Garcia and Cape Canaveral. I look forward to checking it out but am very glad I don’t have to spend 8 days there as I was originally scheduled to do.
Finally, I want to visit all 4 of these islands and archipelagos. This trip, long as it may be, actually saves me time if I were to do each separately. Plus it is very cost efficient and saves me a lot of money versus doing them all separately. The Atlantic Odyssey expedition is very cheap compared to many Antarctica ships. It’s a repositioning trip where the ship leaves the Antarctic and heads north to Europe and the Arctic. Plus options are very few when trying to reach some of the worlds most remote islands.
So that said, I am anxious and apprehensive about the trip but I am very hopeful it will be cool. I am going completely alone so I am hoping there are good people on the boat, preferably a few under the age of 70! I have no doubt there will be interesting people as this is nobody’s first trip!
So as I prepare to head down to Buenos Aires then onto Ushuaia I am a little stressed. However, I know myself and when this trip is over I will be happy I did it. I just hope we make all our landings, the weather cooperates as much as possible and I don’t get too sick! Travel is so fun!