Yes, there is life beyond the average bareboat charter. Here are six unique expeditions for true adventurers
o you’re looking for adventure. Not of the bareboat party barge variety, but the kind where the weather is sketchy, the wildlife plentiful, the sailing serious and the boats rugged with serious looking reels of anchor rode and line on deck. Whether you’re seeking to cross oceans, sail high latitudes or learn the ropes from experts in anticipation of commanding your own ship someday, there are lots of opportunities to see a bolder side of life on the water via expedition chartering.
Some expedition operators combine sailing with skiing, mountaineering and diving in their passagemaking itineraries, so your wilder side can be appeased and your muscles stretched in new ways. Other opportunities are run on a shared-expenses basis while still others may set you back a fair bit. However, all of them will create memories and allow you to hone skills that will never leave you. Let’s take a look at six options for how to sail off the grid.
✧ EXPEDITION SAIL
Kate and Hamish Laird once worked with Skip Novak, and now offer expedition sails with some of the same flavor. After spending 17 years in Antarctica, the Lairds decided that the area was too crowded, and in 2004 they sought out new pristine cruising grounds in Alaska. Their regular cruises typically include Prince William Sound, with some reaching out to the Aleutian Islands. They offer charters for four to six people and often host adventurous couples looking to learn. There is no fixed itinerary; the trips range from a minimum of 10 days to five weeks, and everyone from neophytes to seasoned sailors are welcome.
Their boat Seal, is a 56ft Chuck Painedesigned aluminum cutter with a swing-up keel and rudder for running aground, both accidentally and on purpose. You read that right: photos of Seal show her happily sitting high and dry on a mud flat during Alaska’s wild tidal fluctuations. When was the last time you had to “walk in the anchor?”
Extracurricular activities include fishing, trekking, skiing, bird-watching and diving. The Lairds try to match their various guests based on their personal interests and expectations. They also actively encourage non-sailors to give it a go. The Alaskan cruising season is April through Septem-
ber, and later in the year you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Budget about $500 per person per day for all that takes place on the boat.
Laird delights in how “amusing” Alaska is. “The wilderness experience in this remote region is unmatched,” says Laird. “It’s so vast, it’s sometimes hard to grapple with the size. Mostly, Alaska is for those people looking for something slightly–more,” he adds.
Expedition Sail, expeditionsail.com