An Optimal Polar Expedition Vessel for Small-Scale Exploration
The 75-foot ice-strengthened sailing vessel S/V Australis is a sturdy, seasoned veteran of polar waters and our base for nearly two weeks of in-depth exploration along the Antarctic Peninsula and its islands. Based in the Southern Hemisphere, Australis is a steel-hulled, fully rigged motor sailor powered by a 180hp Gardner engine, which can carry her along at a speed of 8+ knots. Carrying a full range of safety, operational and navigational equipment, Australis is also equipped with two Zodiac tenders that provide us exclusive access to remote coastal areas that larger vessels don't access.
The interior of the vessel is cozy yet comfortable, providing our guests an experience reminiscent of earlier expeditions while maintaining modern-day creature comforts. Four cabins accommodate a maximum of seven passengers and one NHA Expedition Leader. (Ship crew members have their own berths below.) Bathroom facilities are shared. Guests can relax in the saloon, equipped with TV, DVD, VCR and CD player. A generous table seats 12 comfortably. The well-equipped galley features a cooktop, oven, microwave, toaster, double sink with hot and cold running water, and three full-sized fridge/freezers. Our crew members are our hosts and provide hearty and tasty meals throughout. A washer and dryer are available on board. The vessel has 240-volt electricity throughout (110-volt conversion available). On deck, the large outdoor cockpit area has a removable sun shade, and there is a barbecue and hot water shower on the aft deck. A crow's nest with ladder access offers 360-views and fantastic wildlife viewing.
Important Information on Rooming Configuration
There are four cabins aboard the Australis. Three are configured with one lower double bed that converts to two twins (with a separation board), plus a single upper bed above the double. The fourth cabin has a lower single bed and an upper single bed. Depending on the number of guests and composition of the parties in our group, we usually operate either with: A) four of the cabins set up as double rooms, or B) three cabins set up as double rooms and one cabin set up as a triple, with the NHA Expedition Leader as the third person in that triple. Rooming configuration is determined by booking date as well as by gender and other preferences. Though our quarters are compact, the Australis is surprisingly comfortable. Utilizing this vessel as our mode of exploration allows us exclusive access to the “White Continent” that most other Antarctica travelers simply cannot experience. The rooming situation may not be as spacious or convenient as you will find on a larger cruise ship with a hundred (and often plenty more) guests on board, but getting away from those other tourists to experience the polar wilderness in solitude is exactly the point, isn’t it?