DARWIN200 GLOBAL VOYAGE

Leg 1: Plymouth to Tenerife

We have been moored right in the city centre of Plymouth for a few days now; surrounded by bars and loud music at night. The ship does attract a lot of attention, with her masts higher than most of the houses on the waterfront. After the kick-off party in the local aquarium, we are all ready to start our global voyage and are looking forward to the rhythm of the sea again.

The morning of departure brought us no wind and fog. However, we were honoured with half of Plymouth waving us off. We started our voyage through the English Channel and Bay of Biscay (both known for strong winds and rough seas) but we enjoyed light weather and met several groups of dolphins every day. The group of 5 fin whales surfacing close to us has definitely been our most spectacular animal encounter.

When the weather forecast predicted strong headwinds, we sheltered in Carino (N Spain) and resumed sailing the next morning. With lighter winds, we continued our way south towards Tenerife. Coming closer to Tenerife also meant coming closer to the wildfires that were raging on the island. So surely the news updates were a big topic at the dinner table. Luckily the fires were under control before our arrival.

Leg 2: Tenerife to Cape Verde

We left Tenerife on a wind still morning and an ocean looking like a mirror. In the afternoon we hoisted all sails to try and use the light breeze that had built up. The further we sailed, the hotter it got. 35 degrees became our new normal. The light following winds did not bring a lot of cooling, so we rigged up the deck tent for some shade. On one especially hot afternoon we had a little pool party with a self-constructed pool on deck in the middle of the ocean.

Most nights were clear and had us enjoying lots of stars. We even spotted an entire row of 20!! Satellites passing over us one night. What a strange sight! But surely nothing can beat the experience of seeing dolphins following the ship at night; their bodies glowing in the light of the bioluminescence.

Unfortunately, we did have to use the engine when the wind dropped so much that we barely made any speed. Luckily an enthusiastic group of musicians and singers carried our spirits high until we reached Mindelo. On the last evening the self-composed song about the ship and crew made us all laugh and sing along.

Leg 3: Mindelo to Fernando de Noronha

Our voyage from Mindelo, Cape Verde, to Fernando de Noronha, was an adventure filled with memorable moments. First, we celebrated a heartwarming 69th birthday on board, with our amazing ship’s cook, Richards, baking a delightful cake for the occasion. As if that wasn’t awe-inspiring enough, we took a real plunge into the ocean, with a staggering 5 kilometers of sea beneath us as we swam, a truly humbling experience.

Our journey then led us to cross the equator, where we partook in a charming maritime tradition. King Neptune, embodied by the convincing Grant, welcomed us and bestowed upon us the privilege of crossing the line, a very important and fun tradition. Upon our arrival in the bay of Fernando de Noronha, a pod of dolphins served as our escort, guiding our ship to the port. It was a great journey!

Leg 4: Fernando de Noronha – Salvador de Bahía

As we embarked on our voyage from Fernando de Noronha to Salvador de Bahía, the first day of sailing gifted us a memorable catch – a magnificent blue marlin, which we savored during a delightful lunch the following day. The changing weather gradually became evident, with evening breezes bringing a semblance of chill, although the temperature never dipped below 28 degrees, a reminder of the relative nature of “chilly” at sea.

It was a very special moment when the sun reached its zenith, meaning it shined its light from directly above. The journey to Salvador couldn’t have gone better. With a steady southeast wind, we were able to sail almost the entire way. At first, we were going at a speed of 6 knots, but later it increased to 7, 8, and even 9 knots. conclude our journey on a breathtaking note, a pod of humpback whales graced our path just before we entered the welcoming All Saints Bay of Salvador de Bahía. And, when the sun went down, the wind died out. With all sails up, we came to a stop on the anchorage of Salvador.

Leg 5: Salvador de Bahía – Rio de Janeiro

After a series of very warm, calm days in Salvador, the departure day could hardly have been better; sunny weather, calm waters, and a sail-friendly wind from the bay. With almost all sails raised, we sailed close-hauled to the south with a lively group of enthusiastic people on board. Gradually, as expected, the wind shifted, and after 36 hours, we only had square sails set. We didn’t need to adjust the sails until we reached Cabo Frio.

However, that didn’t mean we were bored! Firstly, the humpback whales kept a close eye on us almost constantly, or perhaps we kept ours on them… They showed themselves in all their glory; the highlight was a mother teaching her calf to leap. Dolphins also made regular appearances, and various species of birds flew around the ship. After Cabo Frio, the wind turned against us, and we had to continue under motor power until, on a windless morning with almost all sails set, we entered Rio de Janeiro.

Leg 6: Rio de Janeiro – Punta del Este

Leg 6 of our journey was, for many of us, a trip not to be forgotten, described by some as ‘Traumhaft’ (dreamlike). We experienced dark nights with a sea illuminated by bioluminescence or a dark sky with spectacular thunderstorms around us. We sailed a lot, occasionally using the motor. Many albatrosses and dolphins were spotted. Fennardie wakes us up in the morning with the smell of freshly baked bread and cooks delicious meals in the evening.

For a group of Brazilian youngsters, this journey was a unique experience, and the fact that we didn’t speak each other’s language didn’t dampen the spirits. They were very interested in life on board, from the wheelhouse to the galley; everyone actively participated.During this journey, we also went on an underwater expedition. From the ‘Oosterschelde’, we lowered a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to an underwater cliff and recorded video footage of the “Yellow Lemon Fish,” which is only found in Uruguay.

Leg 7: Punta del Este – Puerto Madryn

Embarking on the journey from Punta del Este to Puerto Madryn, we encountered a thrilling start with strong winds and a sturdy ocean swell. As we hoisted the sails, the ship swiftly gained good speed, and the excitement peaked when a group of killer whales approached us closely, with one coming up to breathe just one meter away from the aft deck! The days of our voyage were filled with diverse wildlife sightings, including the impressive albatross.

 

Nights were spent marveling at the stars in the southern hemisphere and witnessing intense bioluminescence in the waves. Upon reaching Puerto Madryn, we looked in awe at the dry and vast landscape along the Peninsula Valdes, adorned with sea lions and penguins on the beaches. Despite challenging weather conditions, we made the most of our time with onboard activities, including rope lessons and engine room tours. Our stay in Puerto Madryn included anchor watches, thunderstorm entertainment, and research as the DARWIN Leaders worked on their projects. As we prepare for the next voyage to the Islas Malvinas, Falklands, we anticipate a special Christmas celebration at sea, having already set up our Christmas tree in the saloon. In advance, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas. We will be spending the holiday doing what we love – sailing.

Leg 8 & 9: Puerto Madryn – Stanley

What an adventure! We experienced a bit of everything. From setting all the sails in light winds and sunshine, to double reefed sails with strong winds, big waves and hail. There have been some hard days with seasickness, but what a reward to arrive at the Falkland Islands! On our arrival we saw many whales, dolphins swimming in front of the bow, albatrosses, seals and penguins.

Taking a walk at Saunders Island is like being in a fairy tale. The most beautiful landscape with sand beaches, turquoise blue water, and surrounded by mountains. On our walk across the Island we saw four different species of Penguins. The Rockhopper, King penguin, Magellanic Penguin and Gentoo Penguin. Meeting and observing all these wild animals is more than most of us had dreamed of.

During Christmas, while everyone at home was celebrating, we were at sea with strong winds and big waves. These circumstances were a bit too rocky for a Christmas celebration. So, we postponed that until we arrived at Weddell Island. When the ‘Oosterschelde’ was safely at anchor in the bay, we had our well-deserved Christmas dinner!

Leg 10: Stanley – Punta Arenas

After ensuring everyone was on board, the Captain quickly made the call to set sail towards Saunders Island. One of its bays is famous for its great colonies of King Penguins! A great place to have a quick stop. The wind forecast forbode strong westerly winds, which would only get stronger during our journey. To make the journey enjoyable for all, we decided to make an extra stop. This led us to Grave Cove, where large colonies of black-browed albatrosses, rockhoppers and gentoo penguins were waiting for us. As predicted, our voyage to Punta Arenas was dominated by headwinds which led to us needing the motor to fight the wind. Luckily, the wind also allowed us some nice times under sails! We used this time for instructive presentations about knots, seafaring history and nautical charts (courtesy of Maritime Museum Rotterdam), wonderful wildlife and great company made this whole trip a worthwhile experience for everybody.

Leg 11: Punta Arenas – Talcahuano

A journey of extremes, a journey of amazement and a journey of wow moments. We left Punta Arenas in the cold and wind, through the Strait of Magellan. The water is still wide here and therefore the wind has free rein. One moment you are sitting in the sun, the next you have a lot of wind and low-hanging clouds. Once in the fjords sailing north, we had to use the engine a lot, but this was expected. The nights were cold, but fortunately short because it is summer here. The giant Pio XI glacier was a highlight, as was our spectacular encounter with whales. But anchoring at Puerto Eden was also a moment to remember. Finally, 3 more days of real sailing with lots of wind on the open ocean. A wonderful end to an incredible trip. Once anchored at Talcahuano, we could not help but look at each other we had a fantastic trip.

Sail around the world following Charles Darwin’s journey!

Do you want to join the DARWIN200 voyage as a DARWIN SAILOR?

We have embarked on a circumnavigation, covering 32 legs that make up the itinerary of the DARWIN200 Global Voyage. Each leg involves sailing between the ports where our teams of Darwin Leaders) will undertake their land-based training and research projects.

Sail with us on one or more voyage legs!

Our ship’s professional crew will offer guest sailors full training and guidance. No previous sailing experience is required, just a passion to sail, explore the world and embrace new experiences.

Darwin Sailors will be expected to assist with sailing in continuous watch system. This is an incredible opportunity to have a unique sailing experience led by professional sailors on our historic tall ship. Explore some of the most exotic waters of the world, just like Charles Darwin did on HMS Beagle

Read more about the DARWIN200 project on the Darwin200 website