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Sailing to Antarctica

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Sailing to Antarctica


Sergey Vinogradov

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Russian sailing vessels – the Kruzenshtern, the Sedov and the Pallada - have triumphantly completed the passage from Russia to the southern part of the Atlantic in the wings of the Sails of the World, the round-the-world expedition dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Antarctica discovery by Russian seafarers and the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. For three months, ships with Russian and foreign cadets on board covered a distance of over 32 thousand nautical miles. The passage to Antarctica ended with a 200-mile sailing regatta.

The voyage, aimed to recall the legendary expeditions of Fabian Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev, has shown that today Antarctica is closer than it was in the 19th century. And it's not about speed - sails and winds are unlikely to have changed much over 200 years. It is about technologies thanks to which the virtual crews of the Kruzenshtern, the Sedov and the Pallada were way more numerous than the actual ones.

Challenges of the passage and everyday life on the vessels could be observed in real time - movement of the sailing ships were monitored on the map, reports on meetings with compatriots in foreign ports, activities of sailors on a long voyage, crossing the equator and celebrating the New Year on board were available for reading on the website, for watching at the YouTube channel and in social networks nearly daily.

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The Russkiy Mir was watching the life of the sailing ships through a virtual porthole for three months and will share about the most interesting events.

Russian New Year tree in the Canaries

During the period of three months, the Kruzenshtern, the Sedov and the Pallada visited 12 foreign ports, and in each of them, Russian vessels became the headlines. Television reports were made and newspapers wrote about them. The idea of conducting tours on board the sailing vessels was more than the good one - the service was in demand. Almost 25 thousand people stepped on board of the Russian ships - the population of a small city.

With Orthodox Christmas in the offing, Russian sailing vessels were welcomed in the Spanish town of Las Palmas. The quay of the Canary town was absolutely packed. After mooring, hundreds of those who wanted to see the sailing ship from the inside lined up to the Sedov. The tours were conducted by cadets. There was a special meeting arranged for representatives of the Russian-speaking community and parishioners of the local Orthodox church aboard the Sedov. Sailors gave compatriots a Christmas tree with toys that had been brought from Kaliningrad. After being a part of the festive celebrations, the tree was planted in Gran Canaria.

Ambassadors and consuls of Russia in different countries and cities of the world, as well as representatives of other states have also come aboard the sailing vessels. Participants of the expedition were splendidly welcomed in Rio de Janeiro - Vladimir Tokmakov, the Russian Consul General, recalled that two hundred years ago the vessels of Bellingshausen and Lazarev had been welcomed very warmly in Brazil by local authorities among others. Revista Intertelas, the popular Brazilian magazine, devoted a huge article to the Russian expedition.

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Crews of the Pallada and the Kruzenshtern met with Dmitry Feoktistov, the Russian Ambassador, in Ushuaia, one of the southernmost cities in Argentina. The seafarers visited the exhibition devoted to discovery of Antarctica at the local Maritime Museum and laid floral tributes at the monument to the heroes of the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas).

Playing chess while there are no rolling motions

Gales and rolling motions, calm sea and even sand storms (they happened off the coast of Africa) were experienced aboard the sailing ships by cadets from all over Russia. Students of educational institutions from St. Petersburg and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy pull a rope together, cadets from Murmansk and Astrakhan, shoulder to shoulder, scuffle the deck.

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Life on a sailing vessel is not only about shifts and rest in rooms. A large educational and entertaining program was prepared for the cadets - they participated in a chess tournament (they managed to hold it in time when there were no rolling motions), watched educational films, attended classes of English and other subjects, caught fish and celebrated holidays.

The New Year was celebrated festively (sure thing having southern Spain on the horizon), but still in a strict marine style. They lined up on the deck and listened to the order on awarding the distinguished ones, however the document was read by Father Frost and Snow Maiden with the familiar voices. Caps with the expedition symbols became New Year's gifts. Olivier salad, aspic and other homemade dishes were served at the gala dinner.

And Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Sedov was celebrated with athletic triathlon - competitor lifted weights, did push-ups and pull-ups. The strongest ones were awarded with cups. And young people comprehended marine traditions. While passing Cape Horn, each crew member received a certificate that he has the official right to wear an earring in his left ear.

There are many comments requesting expedition participants responsible for coverage of the voyage to post as many photos as possible. Those requests come from parents and significant others of cadets and sailor-boys - sometimes the expedition internet groups provide the only chance to see their sons. “You’ve become tanned; you’ve lost weight,” mothers write under the pictures. “He has grown into manhood,” chime in the others.

The dream that came true

Some parents of cadets with special merits had their moments - interviews with their sons were published on the expedition's Internet resources. “Since childhood, I had a dream to go on a trip around the world,” says Evgeny Sobolev, a cadet, in a raid near Tierra del Fuego. “I wanted to see how the world looks from the ship. And today I can say that my dream has come true. So now I need to look around well and figure out where to strive further.”

Evgeny Yaschenkov, the experienced boatswain of the Barque Sedov, first sailed on the vessel more than 35 years ago. Having looked around, he placed all his aspirations in the Sedov, which he has been sailing on since 1983. While at sea, he spends his whole day with cadets, like a real father figure for them. Remember a verse from Borodino: "A servant to the Tsar, the father to the soldiers."

Memorial regatta of sailing ships of Rosrybolovstvo. Photo credit: Vasily Semidyanov / Vkontakte

However, the old sea dog, just as the cadet Sobolev, started speaking of dreams. “I wanted to make my dream come true, so I came as a sailor,” he says. “Then I was a carpenter, a skipper's assistant, I had many occupations onboard. A sailing ship provides good practice for new seafarers. Here they experience what height is about, what wind is about. They learn how hands hurt after sail takedown during a gale.”

Bellingshausen and Lazarev had an artist with them on a journey. He captured some moments of the voyage and shores of a new continent. Exhibitions with the original works of Pavel Mikhailov and their copies were opened all around the world shortly before the 200th anniversary of the Antarctic discovery. Participants of the present-day sailing expedition took a lot of recording equipment on board, but they did not forget about an artist.

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Evgeny Mashkovsky is a graduate of the Krasnoyarsk State Institute of Fine Arts. The artist joined the expedition with a clear mission - to set the round-the-world voyage of the Barque Sedov in picturesque canvases. The paintings will be placed in the museum of the sailing ship, which the Sedov carries everywhere on its board, and in the Kaliningrad Museum of the World Ocean.

Landscape on the other side of the porthole can be captured by the camera; and according to the artist Mashkovsky, his task is “to reflect impressions that I get during the expedition.” In addition to making paintings and sketches, Evgeny Mashkovsky teaches classes in an art studio where cadets and crew members study. Classes began with basics of drawing sea and the ship, since those can be painted from life.

By December 2020, when the expedition ends, young sailors will have mastered painting ships in their albums much better. And the line of life will have silhouetted itself more clearly. Sometimes discovering yourself is no less difficult than discovering Antarctica.


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