Cruising World’s Top Adventure Photos of 2023

We take a look back at ten of our most wanderlust-inspiring images of the year.

Swimming with whale sharks off St. Helena. Dodging icebergs in the Arctic Sea. Carving through breakers in the sporty Drake Passage en route to Antarctica. At the onset of the winter offseason for many, these images may seem distant in more ways than just geography, but there’s no better time to plan your 2024 adventures. Explore the photos and stories below for plenty of inspiration.

Polar Sun approaches the Greenland ice cap at the head of a narrow, ­incredibly deep fjord. Ben Zartman

Long before Polar Sun, the Stevens 47 we’re cruising in Greenland, reached the Arctic Circle, we had left the night behind. The last darkness we saw was when we left Flowers Cove, in northern Newfoundland, at 2 a.m. to catch the downtide to Mary’s Harbour in Labrador. After that, with the bows pointed north into the Labrador Sea, though the sun would briefly set, the twilight endured until it rose again just a little to the right of where it had gone down.

“The Air Up There”January/February 2023 issue

Oyster sailboat
Oyster owner Barry Parkin says that owning a cruising sailboat is “completely different from the challenges of racing.” Simply figuring out all the onboard systems is a major learning curve. Pedro Martinez/Courtesy Oyster Yachts

Barry and Sue Parkin had already lost one sail. They were really, really hoping that they wouldn’t lose another as they screamed toward the finish line during last year’s Oyster Palma Regatta off Spain’s Balearic Isles. Their No. 3 jib tore straight across and blew apart the second time they took the helm of their recently purchased Oyster 625, Papillon. It was a 2013 build, and the sails that came with it were probably a decade old, with levels of wear and tear that they were still sussing out. If you had asked the couple a few decades ago whether they would likely find themselves aboard that kind of a sailboat, they both likely would have said no. But now that they’re both 58 years old, with three of their four children out of school, they’re starting to think about sailing a lot differently.

“Making the Turn”March 2023 issue

Prince Christian Sound
Prince Christian Sound, the stunning inside passage north of blustery Cape Farewell, is often still ice-choked in late July, but we were lucky. Antonio Baldaque da Silva

Quetzal slipped her mooring and steamed into the fog. Our job was to sail to Newfoundland, where our Viking voyage would commence—a northern track eastbound across the Atlantic eliciting parallels to the adventures of early voyagers. However, our first landfall was fabled Sable Island, a crescent of shifting sands 90 miles south of eastern Nova Scotia. It’s notorious as the “graveyard of the Atlantic,” and more than 350 wrecks form a necklace of tragedy. It’s also home to an unlikely herd of 500 wild horses. It’s also not easy to visit, so when Alan arranged a coveted landing permit, we had to stop.

“In the Wake of Vikings”April 2023 issue

Engine room
Repowering Totem was the task that spawned an entire refit. “When will you splash Totem?” is the question we hear repeatedly. “It’s a 40-year refit, so only 38 years to go,” Jamie Gifford replies with a weary, wry smile. Behan Gifford

As a fellow cruiser gazed around the torn-up main cabin of our 1982 Stevens 47, Totem, his eyes grew wide. He asked a head-scratcher: “Why?” Why not buy a newer sailboat? Why take on so much work? Why not be anchored at a remote Pacific Island right now instead of dry-docked in a dusty shipyard? Because this boat—our home of 15 years through dozens of countries along a path around Earth, classroom for our three children, magic carpet to unimaginable experiences—is our Totem. This boat has cared for us, and so we cared for it, with a refit centered on its 40th year.

“The 40-Year Refit”May 2023 issue

Grand Banks 53 sailboat
Renowned sailor Gary Jobson takes the helm of the 53-foot Grand Banks trawler Bona Vitae on Desolation Sound—and makes a whole new kind of memory. Gary Jobson

We were cruising through one of Desolation Sound’s towering fjords when the wind hit 35 knots. This type of a headwind is to be expected in this part of British Columbia, and it made me glad that I was—for the first time in my life—exploring a region not aboard a sailboat but instead aboard a 53-foot Grand Banks trawler with twin 650 hp engines. The term “powering through” took on a whole new meaning.

Switching Gears” – August 2023 issue

Swimming with whale sharks
Swimming with whale sharks off St. Helena in the South Atlantic during a stopover in the Oyster World Rally. Sean Mac Rory

In the realm of extraordinary adventures, the thrill of a circumnavigation stands tall, offering an unparalleled opportunity to experience by boat some of the most mesmerizing places on the planet—places other people can’t get to in cruise ships; places that are tiny, with no infrastructure, and you get to experience these things that others simply cannot. Combine the allure of such a voyage with the comforts of cruising in a group of like-minded sailors, and you have the Oyster World Rally. Over the course of nearly 16 months, 25 Oyster yachts’ owners and guests traversed approximately 27,000 nautical miles, visiting awe-inspiring destinations, creating cherished memories along the way, and forging bonds to last a lifetime through shared experiences, laughter, and the pursuit of a common dream.

“World Wanderers”August 2023 issue

Willie steering La Reine
Willie McBride settles in at the helm of La Reine, a 23-year-old Beneteau 381 he bought sight-unseen. Willie McBride and Kimberly Tilton

“Willie, call me as soon as you can. I bought a boat. I haven’t seen it yet. It’s in the middle of Florida. We have to get it out of the boatyard by Monday.” When I received the voicemail, I was racing a Melges 24 regatta in Miami, and I knew adventure was brewing. My father-in-law, Chris, had started with casual boat browsing online and progressed to the sight-unseen purchase of La Reine, a 23-year-old Beneteau 381. In the process, he had set in motion a journey that would take my wife, Kim, and me on a 50-day, 1,000-nautical-mile shotgun journey into the unknown—starting with getting the boat off the hard for him within three days. Little did we know, delivering this boat would teach us that even the best-laid plans are sometimes no match for fate.

“An Unexpected Adventure”September 2023 issue

Kirsten Neuschafer on her sailboat
Kirsten Neuschäfer spent 235 days at sea before crossed the finish line of the 2022-23 Golden Gobe Race, becoming the first woman to win a round-the-world race. Kirsten Neuschäfer

When Kirsten Neuschäfer decided to compete in the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race, she searched for a fast, safe and stable boat. She studied designs with a good ballast-to-weight ratio, and sought out a hull and rig that could withstand a hard beat to windward. She found Minnehaha in Newfoundland and knew that the tough, sturdy Cape George 36 was the one. The quick cutter with a generous sail plan met all of the official requirements—a production boat with a full keel, less than 36 feet long, designed before 1988—and a few requirements she had set for herself. After 235 days at sea, she crossed the line in Les Sables d’Olonne, becoming the first woman to win a round-the-world race.

“Solo Act”October 2023 issue cover

Emiliano Marino
Emiliano Marino, of The Artful Sailor, keeps the traditions of ancient sailors alive at Port Townsend. Tor Johnson

I’m no Ernest Shackleton. I live in Hawaii, and I love the warm weather and clear blue waters of the tropics. Having done a little high-latitude sailing, I have to admit that freezing weather is not my favorite. My boat doesn’t even have a heater.  Yet here I was with Tracy, a surfing friend from Hawaii, ripping down Puget Sound at 12 knots under spinnaker, in the dead of winter. I had on about 10 layers, two puffy jackets, gloves, boots and a hat. I also had a huge smile on my face.

“A Winter’s Sail”November/December 2023 issue

Sailboat going through the Drake Passage
Novara cuts a tight line in challenging conditions through the Drake Passage, en route to Antarctica. Extreme offshore adventures call for extraordinary preparations. Andrew Cassels

Steve Brown knows a thing or two about heavy weather. Throughout his sailing career, Brown and his wife, Trish, took on a four-year circumnavigation aboard their Oyster 56, Curious, sailed a 30,000-mile circumnavigation of the Americas—sailing north from Camden, Maine, and then an east-to-west transit of the Northwest Passage—and spent more than his fair share of time in the Southern Ocean. Brown is up for debating the superlatively inhospitable places on Earth. Along the way, there’s been brash ice and icebergs, rogue waves and drogues, penguins and polar bears. He’s a sailor who’s had the real-life experience of switching from gale-force storm management to survival tactics after conditions transcend control—just the kind of expert you want to lean in to for heavy weather sailing strategies that may save your life.

“Wicked Weather”November/December 2023 issue