Yachting in Antarctica

a private yacht in the AntarcticClick to enlarge
To sail Antarctica on a private yacht – these people have fulfilled a lifelong dream.

Segelyacht in der Antarktis

Source: Fritz Hertel/UBA

Yachting expeditions to the Antarctic are an option for those with a taste for something a bit more adventurous, hands-on and in a more personal atmosphere. Journeys on commercial vessels which travel to the region every season are very popular. It is also a lifelong dream come true for owners of sailing or motor yachts to travel to Antarctica with their own boats.

Travel to the Antarctic Treaty area by sailing or motor yacht has occurred since the 1960s. In addition to cruise ships, yachts are an everyday sight in Antarctic tourism. Every year a couple hundred of tourists embark on private and commercial yacht journeys.

One popular destination is Port Lockroy, formerly a British base on the West Antarctic Peninsula. The United Kingdom Antarctic Heritage Trust operates a museum and a small post office and souvenir shop. 32 different yachts landed in its small natural harbour during the 2012/2013 season. Several yachts are members in the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and are thereby subject to compliance with its regulations. The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) also published yachting guidelines for Antarctic cruises in 2012. However, there are private individuals navigating the Antarctic Treaty territory unmonitored, whose presence is only registered upon berthing at Port Lockroy.

Recommendations for your yachting journey

Any yachting tourist's misconduct, whether due to lack of knowledge or overconfidence, is both a great risk for other people and the ecosystem of Antarctica. As a passenger on a yacht to the Antarctic Treaty area, you should make sure ahead of your journey that the required authorisations have been granted. German citizens wishing to organize an independent yachting journey must submit an application for a permit to the German Environment Agency at least three months in advance. All the information about the documentation required to apply for a permit is here: Applying for a permit to travel to the Antarctic.

In any event you should become acquainted with the rules of proper behaviour on location prior to the start of your journey. See the following documents for advice:

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 IAATO  travellers  Antarctic